I posted photos of the Ellison Ballet Spring Showcase 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. I previously reviewed the 2015 Showcase and interviewed Ellison on the 10th anniversary of the school last year.
This year’s gala-style bill at the school’s home at Manhattan Movement and Arts Center consisted of 26 short works, mostly classics with a few modern/contemporary works. All the dancing was at a high level, a great reflection on the school and dancers. Highlights included:
- Offenbach Adagio was nicely done, particularly the men dancing in unison. The highlight was four guys with nice double tours to the knee, all in synch, which is sometimes a challenge for major ballet companies.
- August Atahu Generalli showed his dramatic range in The Reaping. I don’t know the story behind the work, but his character was quite emotional and distraught.
- Gloria Benaglia and Andrii Ishchuk presented a fine Giselle Pas de Deux. Gloria’s extension is glorious, with her foot near her head. Andrii, who was accepted into the ABT Studio Company next year, was technically very proficient in his solo work.
- Young Penelope Birnbaum excelled in two works, the contemporary Weight of Darkness and classical Paquita. She has great technique and turning capabilities, pounding out 4-5 pirouettes en pointe. She won 2nd Place in the Junior Classical Ladies Division of the Youth America Grand Prix earlier this year.
- What would a gala be without the Don Quixote Pas de Deux? Juliette Bosco and August Atahu Generalli were in fine form in this bravura classic. Juliette has all of the tricks one would see on a major stage: endless balances in arabesque (eight seconds by my count); great grand jetés with substantial height; stunning fouettés where she did alternating single and double/triple pirouettes with hands on her hips on the first 16 turns, and quarter turns to the side, back, side, and front again. I saw ABT’s Yuriko Kajiya (now at Houston Ballet) and Maria Kochetkova perform this difficult turn, but in the beginning of the segment. August was her match with nice turns in second position and double assemblé.
After the performance, Ellison bid farewell to seven graduating dancers in the graduation ceremony. He announced that three dancers received contracts at the Colorado Ballet Studio Company, one at ABT Studio Company, Art Ballet Theatre of Florida, and Salzburg Ballet. Ellison did not announce where August Atahu Generalli was headed, but said with a knowing look on his face “He’ll do just fine.”