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American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School Spring Performance 2009

- Onstage with the Dancers: Art and Education
1915 Kutztown Road
Reading, PA 19604
FAX (610) 921-0953

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American Ballet Theatre
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School
Spring Performance 2009
(ABT/JKO School Website)

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel Moore, Executive Director
Franco De Vita, JKO School Principal
Mary Jo Ziesel, Director of Education and Training
Molly Schnyder, Director of Training Programs
Rebecca Schwartz, Training Programs Coordinator
Brian Sciara, Production Manager and Lighting Designer
Anna Frangos, Stage Manager
James Roy, Costumes

Instructors: Franco De Vita, Principal
Olga Dvorovenko, Susan Jaffe, Jessica Lang
Raymond Lukens, Kate Lydon, Clarice Marshall,
Lupe Serrano, Martine Van Hamel

John Jay College
Gerald W. Lynch Theater
(John Jay College Theater Website)

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 5, 2009

(See More ABT Reviews, Interviews, and Candids)
(See the JKO Students in Class)


Flames of Paris: Choreography from Vasily Vainonen, Music by Boris Asafiev, Staged by Raymond Lukens, Performed by Aaron Smyth and Miki Wakuta.

Boyce: Choreography by Franco De Vita, Music by William Boyce, Performed by Kira Anderson, Anastasia Barsukova, Elias Baseman, Connie Bowman, Selina Correa, Gabriella Czarniak, Camila Ferrera, Ellie Greenhouse, Alyssa Prescott Hubbard, Catherine Hurlin, Lindsay Karchin, Maiko Kitaoka, Eve Marinelli, Sydney Morrison, Avery Reiners, Brandon Reiners, Ellis Underwood, Madeline Wittmann.

La Belle Danse: Choreography by Jessica Lang, Music by George Frederic Handel and Arcangelo Corelli, Costumes by Elena Comendador after Tamara Cobus, Lighting by Brian Sciarra after MK Stewart, Rehearsal Assistant: Christopher Vo, Performed by James Applewhite, Kathryn Boren, Thibaut Eiferman, Daphne Fernberger, Shu Kinouchi, Nayara Macedo Lopes, Elise Miller, Olga Podprugin, Aaron Smyth, Miki Wakuta, Michal Wozniak.

Concerto No. 9 in A Major: Choreography by Raymond Lukens, Music by Wassenaer, Performed by James Applewhite, Sterling Baca, Thibaut Eiferman, Garrett Groat, Jake Helgenberg, Shu Kinouchi, Jhonatan Mendez, Jerimy Rivera, Aaron Smyth, Michal Wozniak.

La Bayadère – Act II, Kingdom of the Shades: Choreography by Natalia Makarova after Marius Petipa, Music by Ludwig Minkus, Staged and Rehearsed by Raymond Lukens and Kate Lydon, Performed by Elise Miller, Garrett Groat, Alexandra McGlade, Daphne Fernberger, Olga Podprugin, Kathryn Boren, Skylar Paley Brandt, Meghan Brule, Kimberly Buesser, Selina Correa, Ellie Dembo, Katherine Farrell, Melisa Garat, Melissa Gelfin, Nayara Macedo Lopes, Catherine Martin, Cece Montgomery, Amber Neff, Marie O’Keefe, Seika Paradeis, Erika Silverman, Alison Stroming, Miki Wakuta.

Franco De Vita and Raymond Lukens can often be seen in the Met Opera lobby, during ABT’s Spring Season, and it’s wonderful to know that they and their JKO School colleagues are teaching the best techniques to ABT’s youngest dancers. Tonight’s program was strong and striking, considering that the students are only 12-18 years old. There are 61 students in the school, and it seemed that most of them were onstage tonight. The proud parents and friends were vocally supportive throughout the audience, and I saw some of the crème de la crème of the NY ballet community too.

Flames of Paris is one of the most engaging of brief, virtuosic ballets, and it tests endurance and focus, as well as impassioned personal presence. All of these qualities were on view here and more. Aaron Smyth was daring and muscular, with a confident attitude that caught my eye. Miki Wakuta briskly executed perfect turns with balance and poise. They were actually absorbing in this opening work. Franco De Vita’s (JKO Principal)Boyce, set to music by William Boyce, had the male dancers in white-black and the females in pink leotards. Eighteen dancers managed to seize the stage in rambunctious, rare form, keeping patterns interesting all the while and showing off technical skills with aplomb.

Jessica Lang’s La Belle Danse specifically evoked the style and genre of Paul Taylor’s modern works, and the naturalness of the beige, brown, cream dresses and brown male costumes contrasted with the clapping, joyful partnered lifts and up-stretched arms. Raymond Lukens’ Concerto No. 9 in A Major for ten male dancers, included jumps, cartwheels, dance-kicks (á la Agnes De Mille/Twyla Tharp), and geometric lines in grey-black casual costumes. This piece showcased the bravura talent that’s emerging at The JKO School. Lukens is Artistic Assoc. of the ABT/NYU Masters Program. He has significant experience in choreography and ballet staging.

One of my all-time favorite full-length ballets is La Bayadère, choreographed by Makarova, after Petipa. Tonight, Elise Miller danced the role of Nikiya, and Garrett Groat danced as Solor. It was astounding that these young dancers mastered the scarf pas de deux with elegance and attention to detail, the placement of the foot en air, etc. The Kingdom of the Shades scene, actually a drug-induced dream that Solor has, while sleeping on an exotic couch (elaborated upon in the full-length version), brings out the corps in multiple images of Nikiya, who has been poisoned by a snake in a flower basket. (A long story). In Raymond Lukens and Kate Lydon’s staging tonight, 21 JKO students, in pale chiffony costumes, kept their balance (often on one leg) in unison, mastering the complicated and charismatic choreography requisite to this scene. (Photos below show a different lead cast).

Kudos to the JKO School at ABT for this sophisticated and entertaining program.

Katherine Boren and James Applewhite
Level 6 and 7, JKO School at ABT
in Marius Petipa's "La Bayadere"
Courtesy of Erin Baiano

James Applewhite and the Corps
Level 6 and 7, JKO School at ABT
in Marius Petipa's "La Bayadere"
Courtesy of Erin Baiano

Katherine Boren and James Applewhite
Level 6 and 7, JKO School at ABT
in Marius Petipa's "La Bayadere"
Courtesy of Erin Baiano

The Corps
Level 6 and 7, JKO School at ABT
in Marius Petipa's "La Bayadere"
Courtesy of Erin Baiano

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at