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Studio 5 | Great American Ballerinas

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Overview

Overview

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Dance Magazine

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American Ballet Theatre (ABT) principal dancer Misty Copeland and New York City Ballet (NYCB) principal dancers Sara Mearns and Tiler Peck each work closely on performance excerpts with another acclaimed dance artist in this five-part Studio 5 series curated and hosted by dance critic and historian Alastair Macaulay. Participating guests include Nina Ananiashvili, Merrill Ashley, Alessandra Ferri, Stephanie Saland, and Pam Tanowitz.

Episodes in the Series

Episodes in the Series

TILER PECK WITH MERRILL ASHLEY

In the first program of the series, NYCB principal dancer Tiler Peck, famous for her prodigious technique and musicality, works with former NYCB star and ballet master Merrill Ashley. Ashley created numerous roles for George Balanchine and is credited with establishing unprecedented levels of technique in the 1970s and ‘80s. Together they explore three Balanchine solos with Ashley coaching Peck live: 

Excerpt from Divertimento No. 15
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust

Excerpt from George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust

Excerpt from Symphony in C
Choreography by George Balanchine © School of American Ballet

This episode was available for public viewing from July 16 through July 22.


SARA MEARNS WITH NINA ANANIASHVILI

NYCB principal dancer Sara Mearns has become known as one of America’s foremost interpreters of the dual role of Odette-Odile in Swan Lake. She explores this classic role live alongside Georgian ballerina Nina Ananiashvili—a former principal dancer with Bolshoi Ballet and ABT, among others, and widely known as “one of the twelve greatest ballerinas of all time” (Daily Telegraph).

This episode was available for public viewing from July 30 through August 5.


MISTY COPELAND, SARA MEARNS, AND TILER PECK TOGETHER IN CONVERSATION WITH ALASTAIR MACAULAY

Get up close and personal with ballerinas Misty Copeland, Sara Mearns, and Tiler Peck in this virtual panel discussion hosted by Alastair Macaulay. This candid conversation includes rare insights from each ballerina as they share their views on diversity in the dance world, how they’re making the most of the lockdown, and their eagerness to work with another esteemed dance artist in their live coaching session.

This episode was available for public viewing from August 13 through August 19.


TILER PECK WITH STEPHANIE SALAND

NYCB principal dancer Tiler Peck works with former NYCB principal dancer Stephanie Saland on the “green” solo from Jerome Robbins’s 1969 classic Dances at a Gathering. The only female solo in the hour-long quintessential piano ballet, Saland was coached in the role by Robbins himself who also choreographed a number of roles for her in the 1970s and ‘80s.

This episode was available for public viewing from September 16 through September 22.


SARA MEARNS WITH PAM TANOWITZ

NYCB principal dancer Sara Mearns works with choreographer Pam Tanowitz to explore new solo material created for her. Both artists have extended their artistic range in recent years—Tanowitz revealing her distinct choreographic voice through a witty and inventive post-modern treatment of classical dance vocabulary and Mearns expanding her repertory to include works by modern dance pioneers Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, and Merce Cunningham, among others.

This episode was available for public viewing from September 23 through September 29.


MISTY COPELAND WITH ALESSANDRA FERRI

In the final program of the series, Misty Copeland, the first African American principal ballerina with the prestigious ABT, revisits Juliet’s solo scenes in Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet to demonstrate how a ballerina continually refines her repertory, along with international ballet star and ABT principal dancer Alessandra Ferri.

This episode was available for public viewing from September 30 through October 6.

Photos

About the Artists

About the Artists

MISTY COPELAND
Misty Copeland is a principal dancer at ABT. She was promoted in 2015, historically making her the first Black woman to be named a principal dancer in the company’s then 75-year history. Copeland joined ABT’s Studio Company in 2000, the main company’s corps de ballet in 2001, and was promoted to soloist in 2007. She performed the world premiere of Kyle Abraham’s Ash, a City Center commission, at the 2019 Fall for Dance Festival. Copeland is a devoted mentor, activist, and philanthropist, as well as the bestselling author of Ballerina Body, Life in Motion, and the award-winning children’s book Firebird. She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford, has been named as one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” and Glamour magazine’s “Women of the Year,” and was honored with a Black Girls Rock! award.

SARA MEARNS
Sara Mearns of Columbia, South Carolina, has been a principal dancer with NYCB since 2008. She has been a guest artist with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Jodi Melnick Dance, and Wang Ramirez. She has also starred in the US premiere of Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes at City Center and performed the Dances of Isadora Duncan at both Lincoln Center and City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival. Mearns was also featured in the Fall for Dance Festival in 2013, 2017, 2018, and 2019. She has worked with world-renowned choreographers including Alexei Ratmansky and Justin Peck. In 2019, she made her City Center Encores! debut in I Married an Angel. Mearns is the winner of the 2018 Bessie Award for Outstanding Performer and a nominee for both the Benois de la Danse and Princess Grace Awards. She has partnerships with Cole Haan, Tiger Balm, and SoDanca.

TILER PECK
Tiler Peck is a principal dancer with NYCB. She has several Broadway, television, and film credits including choreography for John Wicks 3: Parabellum (2019) and a guest appearance on Dancing with the Stars. She danced at the Kennedy Center Honors twice for the Obamas. She was a “30 Under 30” in Forbes magazine and has been the recipient of several awards including a Dance Magazine Award, a Princess Grace Foundation Fellowship, and a Mae L. Wien Award. Peck has also appeared in previous City Center events including Studio 5, the 2015 and 2018 Fall for Dance Festival, and the 2016 Vail Dance Festival: ReMix NYC.

NINA ANANIASHVILI
Nina Ananiashvili was born in Tbilisi, Georgia. At the age of 10, she began studying ballet at the Georgian State Choreographic School and entered the Moscow Choreographic School when she was 13. Ananiashvili joined the Bolshoi Ballet upon graduating in 1981. While she was a prima ballerina there, she became a principal dancer with ABT and danced with The Royal Ballet, Houston Ballet, La Scala Theatre Ballet, and the Metropolitan Opera, among others. She has performed more than 100 ballet pieces and won first prizes at several international ballet competitions. In 2004, Ananiashvili took on the responsibilities of artistic director of the State Ballet of Georgia. She was awarded the Rustaveli State Prize of Georgia and the State Prize of Russia (Triumph). She is also a People’s Artist of Georgia and of the Russian Federation, and a recipient of the Georgian Order of Honor, Georgian Order of Excellence, and the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity by the president of Italy. In 2017, she received the prestigious Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, a Japanese government honor established in 1875 by Emperor Meiji of Japan.

MERRILL ASHLEY
Merrill Ashley was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and began her ballet training when she was seven years old. At 13, she won one of the first Ford Foundation scholarships to the School of American Ballet. In 1967, she was invited to join NYCB and was promoted to principal dancer in 1977. In addition to dancing classic Balanchine works like Concerto Barocco, Firebird, and Square Dance, Balanchine choreographed Ballo della Regina and Ballade for her. One of the great Balanchine ballerinas, Ashley retired from the stage in 1997 and currently stages and coaches Balanchine ballets around the world. The film The Dance Goodbye documents her transition into retirement. She is the author of Dancing for Balanchine and co-author of The Balanchine Essays.

ALESSANDRA FERRI
Born in Milan, Italy, Alessandra Ferri joined the Royal Ballet in 1980 where Sir Kenneth MacMillan selected her for leading roles in his ballets Romeo and Juliet, Manon, and Mayerling, and choreographed others for her. In 1985, Ferri joined ABT as a principal dancer. She is also a permanent guest artist at La Scala. From 2008–2014, she directed dance at the Spoleto Festival. Ferri choreographed The Piano Upstairs, written by John Weidman, and was directed by Martha Clarke in Cherì. Other roles created for her include Virginia Woolf in Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works and Eleonora Duse in John Neumeier’s Duse. She premiered McGregor’s Witness with Herman Cornejo at the 2016 Fall for Dance Festival and AFTERITE for ABT in 2018. In 2019, with Cornejo, Ferri inaugurated the new Linbury Theatre at the Royal Opera House with TRIO ConcertDance. Ferri received numerous international awards including two Sir Lawrence Olivier Award, the Dance Magazine Award, and the Benois de la Danse.

STEPHANIE SALAND
During her long career with NYCB, Stephanie Saland performed in leading roles under Balanchine's direction and received guidance from Jerome Robbins for two decades. Saland was a guest performer in Nureyev and Friends, Giselle with Alexander Godunov, and numerous Live from Lincoln Center broadcasts. Since 1993, she has been a freelance instructor based in Seattle where she continues to teach, coach, and mentor throughout the US and internationally. Saland is inspired and informed by non-ballet modalities and is working to evolve a teaching style that synthesizes and provides a creative response to the valuable aspects of these approaches.

PAM TANOWITZ
Pam Tanowitz is a New York-based choreographer and founder of Pam Tanowitz Dance. Her work was selected by The New York Times’ “Best of Dance” from 2013 to 2015 and 2017 to 2019. Tanowitz’s 2017 New Work for Goldberg Variations, created in collaboration with pianist Simone Dinnerstein, was called a “rare achievement” (The New York Times). Her most recent work, Four Quartets (2018), inspired by T.S. Eliot’s literary masterpiece and set to music by Kaija Saariaho, was called "the greatest creation of dance theater so far this century” (The New York Times). Tanowitz’s work was featured at The Juilliard School and City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival in 2012, 2015, and 2018. Her piece One Last Good Chance was co-commissioned by the Fall for Dance Festival and Vail International Dance Festival in 2015. Tanowitz’s honors include two Bessie awards in addition to numerous commissions and fellowships.

ALASTAIR MACAULAY
Alastair Macaulay was chief theater critic of the Financial Times from 1994 to 2007, and chief dance critic of The New York Times from 2007 to 2018. In 1983, he was founding editor of the British quarterly Dance Theatre Journal, and in 1988 and 1992, he was guest dance critic to The New Yorker. Macaulay has written the short biography Margot Fonteyn (1998) and the extensive book of interviews Matthew Bourne and His Adventures in Dance (2011). He has convened a series of seminars at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts on ballets from Giselle to Afternoon of a Faun and has given public presentations there on dance from The Sleeping Beauty to Merce Cunningham. Macaulay has hosted several previous City Center Studio 5 events. A Director’s Fellow at the NYU Center for Ballet and the Arts in 2020, he is currently working on a critical biography of Merce Cunningham.

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