THE JACQUELINE KENNEDY ONASSIS SCHOOL
May 24, 2022
The Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis School, the official school of
American Ballet Theatre, gave its first in-person performances
in years at the NYU Skirball theater. By presenting a handful of
classical ballet repertory excerpts, the school positioned itself
as steward of classical ballet style, and beautiful classical ballet
style and training was evident in each and every one of those
The clarity of their port de bras and their joyful stage
presence are just two essential elements of this tradition that
are clear values being instilled in the young dancers. Kudos to
outgoing JKO Artistic Director Cynthia Harvey for shepherding
the students with such integrity throughout the many
challenges of the past few years.
The program began with Conservatoriet, a classroom exposition
by the 19 th -century Danish master August Bournonville staged
by Petrusjka Broholm. It begins with a nerve-wracking series of
grand-plies (in pointe shoes!) in the center of the stage, which
will bedevil even the most seasoned dancers. Aside from one or
two nervous baubles the dancers managed the fiendishly
difficult choreography with assurance and aplomb. More than
few dancers stood out for their ballon and carriage during
batterie sequences – key ingredients for Bournonville technical
virtuosity. Impressive control was displayed by Savannah
Quiner in her variation, and the young men controlled the ends
of turns and double tours with ease.
Le Petit Ballet by Robert LaFosse with lovely music composed
by JKO student Charles Chaitman showed off the up-and-
coming-dancers with well-executed simple steps and
Excerpts from Sleeping Beauty staged by Ms.
Harvey herself showcased the gifts of particular dancers,
especially the clarity and musicality in the Prologue fairy
variations danced by Audrey Cross, Caroline Quiner, Rachel
Quiner, Cle´mentine Boulle´, Julia Norr, and Fiona Quirk.
It was nice to see the relaxed banter and mutual admiration
expressed between outgoing ABT main company Artistic
Director Kevin McKenzie and Ms. Harvey, as they spoke while
costume changes were happening backstage.
A lively rendition of Moiseyev’s Jota Aragonesa opened the
second half, in a stellar example of cross-cultural homage. It’s
hard not to love a Soviet Russian’s balletic transformation of a
traditional Spanish folk dance danced by young American-
trained dancers with respect and joy, to Glinka’s rousing score.
A bravura rendition of Black Swan by ABT company members
Lea Fleytoux and Jarod Curley showed what the future might
And excerpts from the beloved classic Coppelia,
seamlessly staged by Robert LaFosse with Carmella Gallace and Ruben Martin spotlighting different couples sharing
the leading role, wrapped up the evening. In the first and third
act pas de deux, Ellie Iannotti and Max Barker, Silvie Squires
and Brady Farrar, were charming and assured. And Vince
Pelegrin radiated with joy while the corps de ballet supported
through their own ballet dancing well done.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson