Above photo: Taro Kurachi. The Ellison Ballet Spring Showcase featured many great young dancers this weekend and I posted photos on my photography website notmydayjobphotography.com. Ellison Ballet is a training school in New York run by Edward Ellison, a former Soloist at San Francisco Ballet (see my interview with Edward on the 10th anniversary of the school two years ago). The Showcase serves as a graduation ceremony for the seniors, their final association with the school before going out into the ballet world.
The graduating dancers did very well on the job market, with three landing contracts at Houston Ballet as apprentices and one in the studio company; Taro Kurachi, winner at the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), signed on as an Apprentice at Angel Corella’s Pennsylvania Ballet, while August Atahu Generalli is headed to the Boston Ballet Studio Company. Congratulations to all of the graduates:
Gillian Fitz – Bayerisches Staatsballett II (Studio Company)
August Generalli – Boston Ballet II (Studio Company)
Gloria Benaglia, Shaelynn Estrada and Austen Acevedo – Houston Ballet, Apprentice Contracts
Taro Kurachi – Pennsylvania Ballet, Apprentice
Taylor Lim – Teatrul di Balet Sibiu, Corps de Ballet
Amanda Valentino – Houston Ballet II (Studio Company)
This year’s gala-style bill at the school’s home at Manhattan Movement and Arts Center consisted of 28 short works, both classics and modern/contemporary works. All the dancing was at a high level, a great reflection on the school and dancers. A few observations:
- Markitenka (sometimes called La Vivandiere) a 1844 work from Arthur Saint-Léon was nicely done. The work, more popular in Russia, has a Esmeralda feel to it. The women danced in unison, very well done. Male lead Takaomi Yoshino had an intricate beat section, his solo similar in style to a Bournonville work. There was some razzle-dazzle as Takaomi did a unique turns in second position segment traveling along a diagonal, rarely seen.
- Elisabeth Beyer, who finished in the Top 12 Junior Women in the YAGP and Natalia Makarova Award winner was impressive in her La Esmeralda solo with great extension and controlled pirouettes. Her modern solo in Beat, was equally entertaining.
- Pennsylvania Ballet-bound Taro Kurachi gave a professional quality Don Quixote solo. He displayed big split double cabriole derriére, numerous turns in attitude, and very good pirouette á la seconde. He has a bright future.
- Gloria Benaglia and August Atahu Generalli were dramatic in the La Bayadere Pas de Deux. August, who graduated last year, was a guest in the student performance and will head to the Boston Ballet Studio Company.
- Nio Hirano delivered a mature, well controlled Raymonda Variation along with Viola Pantuso in a Talisman Variation solo.
- Takaomi Yoshino gave a high-flying Flames of Paris solo.
- Interesting contemporary works were presented including Bi-Polaris with Gloria Benaglia and Restless Wave with Michael Paradiso.