MANHATTAN YOUTH BALLET/DANIEL ULBRICHT
June 7, 2012
On the far west side of Manhattan on 60th street, young aspiring dancers race to class to prepare for Manhattan Youth Ballet performances June 8 – 10.
I caught up with Daniel Ulbricht, NYC Ballet Principal and Artistic Director of Manhattan Youth Ballet for a quick overview of the school and upcoming performances.
Our repertory is like a banquet that offers many tastes. Excerpts from Balanchine's Divertimento #15 (staged by Deborah Wingert) includes students ages 12 – 14 years old. This ballet is really more a musical than a technical exercise, inviting dancers to listen and engage with Mozart’s courtly music.
Jerome Robbins “Interplay” underscores relationships between dancers. It’s a hard ballet to stage because after teaching the athletic and technically demanding steps, you tell dancers —“not so much.” Robbins is interested in seeing personalities, not just steps. "Interplay” (Robbins' second ballet) incorporates a theatrical quality and asks our advanced dancers, ages 16 and up, to work in tune with each other.
The two premieres by Attila Joey Csiki (Lar Lubovitch Company) and Marina Stavitskaya (Manhattan Youth Ballet Faculty member) introduce students to what it takes to build a ballet from scratch. An all female cast (16 years old and older), Csiki’s piece demonstrates how a dancer's body can move in different ways. And because they were drawn into the choreographic process, the students exude a sense of ownership.
Ms. Stavitskaya’s piece for two levels of students ages 13 and up, features character dance. In so many ballets, character dances anchor the production, and this piece draws students into the movement styles of different cultures and character types.
What's unique about our situation? Our students get highly individualized attention because unlike many other professional ballet schools, our class size rarely swells beyond fifteen students. This inspires individualized connections with the students and promotes “hands-on” training. Another plus is our facility because it houses the classrooms and theater under one roof. We (the faculty) can bring the classroom to the stage giving the students ample time to familiarize themselves with the performance space.
Studio is where you put together things; stage is where you present yourself. Watching students grow is an amazing process. It proves that hard work can overcome all kinds of obstacles and that you never stop learning. I really thrive off them and I hope they thrive off me.
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Celia Ipiotis