Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Proteges III: The International Ballet Academy Festival at The Kennedy Center

Proteges III marks the third time that the Kennedy Center has presented programs featuring the students of some of the world's most renowned dance schools.    It is a "see the stars of the future" approach that offers the audience a glimpse into the various training styles of the different schools.   This year's program featured three ballet schools, The Royal Danish Ballet School, Tokyo's New National Theatre Ballet School, Bolshoi Ballet Academy and the Julio Bocca Foundation School for the Arts.

The evening began with The Royal Danish Ballet School's Kompagni B.   According to the Playbill, "Kompagni B is the latest initiative from the Royal Danish Ballet School in educating young professionals. It is a company based on the dancer's input."   The young dancers performed B for Bourneville, excerpts from several of August Bourneville's ballet.   Highly appropriate as the Bourneville style is the signature of the Royal Danish Ballet company itself.  Here, the young dancers in collaboration with choreographer Ann Crosset presented a youthful delight in dancing.    These were playful dancers chasing each other, whispering, flirting and then intermixing with the very distinctive Bourneville choreography.    While some lines were not as crisp as they could have been, which The Thespian puts down to nerves dancing on the vast Opera House stage, one found the dancers quite infectious.   A smile grew upon The Thespian's face as whoops of delight were heard from the dancers as the curtain fell.   The March 28th performance was the School premiere of this work.  

Following the first intermission was Tokyo's New National Ballet School.   These dancers received the warmest responses from the Opera House audience that evening.   After all, given what is happening in Japan it is a miracle that they were able to travel to participate in this program.   The "New National Ballet School offers a training program to develop talent in various fields of the performing arts."   The Tokyo school provides training for more than ballet, yet these talented young dancers showcased that the ballet program is very strong under the tutelage of Asami Maki.  Presenting Triptyque a three movement ballet representing hope and joy, sorrow, and freedom and passion, the dancers were bright and crisp in their footwork.   There was a bit of raggedness in the unison of the second movement, sorrow, but talent abounded.

A brief pause and Julio Bocca Foundation School for the Arts took the stage.  There was a bit of griping from the audience at the inclusion of this school on a supposedly ballet school evening.   Julio Bocca Foundation School of the Arts, based in Buenos Aires, focuses on exposing young dancers, actors and singers to many forms of the performing arts.   They apply for "'Uno ano en Buenos Aires' - a year in Buenos Aires-scholarship, two scholarships to the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, and a scholarship to 'Steps on Broadway' in the U.S."    The Thespian felt a great deal of affection for this school.  As a graduate of what is probably the most prestigious performing arts high school in the United States, The Thespian felt that the four pieces danced were a showcase for a strong performing arts program.   Tren Estrella del Norte was a folk/modern piece featuring two young male singers.  Mano Hadjidakis a modern pas de deux filled with mature passion for such young dancers.  Juan Carlos Copes a theatrical jazz solo for the talented dancer Williams Malpezzi.   Finally Destellos de Balanchine, a distillation of the Balanchine-style featuring beautiful work by 8 lovely dancers en pointe.  

The evening concluded with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.   The most polished of the pieces presented that evening, the young dancers performed Leonid Lavrovsky's Classical Symphony set to the music by Prokofiev.   The lead dancer, according to Sarah Kaufman's review in The Washington Post, is a 16-year-old American, Joy Annabelle Womack.    Miss Womack's dancing was pure and delightful to watch as was the dancing by the rest of the talented students of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.    The tutus and tiaras ballet, danced with precision and youthful enthusiasm was a terrific end to a wonderful glimpse of the future of dance.

"The Kennedy Center dedicates the performances of Proteges III to the people of Japan, as well as our many Japanese friends and colleagues.   To support disaster relief efforts and help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and the tsunami throughout the Pacific, Kennedy Center patrons are encouraged to donate to the American Red Cross at 800-RED-CROSS or"

Proteges III was presented in the Opera House of The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC from March 25-27, 2011.    For information on the various dance academies please visit the following for more information:

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