It is always a joy to see very young, well-trained dancers on stage. This was the case, when on June 3, the School of American Ballet’s (SAB) Workshop Performance Benefit celebrated 50 years at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Lincoln Center. The annual Workshop Performances are SAB's only public performances and in truth, during the evening, one forgets that they are students. Rightfully so, The New York Times once said this special performance is a place to "spot-them-before-they-are-stars…" Notable SAB alumni include Merrill Ashley, Peter Boal, Maria Kowroski, Lourdes Lopez, Sara Mearns, Benjamin Millepied, Ethan Stiefel, and Wendy Whelan. In 1965, after joining the SAB faculty just one year before, Alexandra Danilova, a former classmate of George Balanchine at the Imperial Ballet had begun the annual year-end Workshop Performances to highlight the advanced students. This year’s Workshop Performance included Balanchine’s Serenade (staged by Suki Schorer), excerpts from Coppélia (staged by Dena Abergel, Yvonne Borree, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Arch Higgins, Katrina Killian, Lisa de Ribere, Jock Soto and Sheryl Ware), Swan Lake (staged by Darci Kistler) and Western Symphony (staged by Susan Pilarre). The nuance needed for Serenade (unison for a large cast and sophistication) was spot on, so too is the level of professionalism of the corps, and of soloists Kaitlyn Casey (as “Dawn”), Nancy Casciano (as “Prayer”) and SarahAnne Perel (as “Spinner”) in Coppélia. In excerpts from Swan Lake, the very capable Alston Macgill (as “Odette,” Queen of the Swans) plus Lily-Frances Cosgrove, Haily Dupont, Larisa Nugent and Emma Von Enck (in “Dance of the Little Swans”), and Christopher Grant in Western Symphony, must be highlighted. Kudos to the entire cast, they are indeed stars on the rise.
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I am a performer, historian, consultant and dance writer. I am a faculty member at Hunter College, Sarah Lawrence College (Guest), Empire State College's online program Center for Distance Learning. I am also a former faculty member of The Ailey School and the Alvin Ailey/Fordham University dance major program, Kean University and The Joffrey Ballet School's Jazz and Contemporary Trainee Program. I write on dance for The Amsterdam News, Dance Magazine and various publications. Click below to read more about me at my home page - "About Me."