Students from the Chautauqua School of Dance, Chautauqua Festival dancers and Workshop dancers will take the stage for the first time this season in the Chautauqua School of Dance Student Gala at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 15, in the Amphitheater.
Under the direction of Artistic Director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, the students will perform five pieces by choreographers Maris Battaglia, Michael Vernon and Mark Diamond.
“All of the choreographic work is new for this performance,” Bonnefoux said. “The choreographers chose composers that they each really liked and created the work from that.”
The program will include music from composers Johann Sebastian Bach, Francis Poulenc, Aaron Copland, Maurice Ravel and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Bonnefoux said that he is excited to watch the students perform Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade,” choreographed by George Balanchine.
“I have danced that piece myself,” he said. “And it is wonderful for the students to be able to work with someone like Patricia.”
Patricia McBride, master teacher at the School of Dance and the performance’s répétiteur, worked closely with the students and Bonnefoux to bring the choreography to life.
Additionally, Bonnefoux said that he considers Balanchine, the choreographer behind “Serenade” to be “one of the great masters” of dance.
According to Bonnefoux, the gala will act as a “small taste” of the performance on July 23 by the Chautauqua Festival Dancers and the Music School Festival Orchestra. The same choreography will be performed at both the gala and on July 23.
The dancers who will perform in Sunday’s gala include Workshop dancers, who are ages 12 to 14, Festival dancers, who are ages 14 to 18, and Apprentice dancers, who are ages 18 to 22.
“The students work so hard because they are excited to perform in front of an audience,” Bonnefoux said. “I know how important it is to the dancers, and I know I am going to enjoy their talents. It will be a very special occasion.”
Choreographer Diamond, who is celebrating his 30th year at the Chautauqua School of Dance, created the piece that will be performed to Ravel’s “In the Interim.”
“The students are excited, but it’s also nerve-wracking because they learned all of the pieces so fast,” Diamond said. “This gala will act sort of as a preparation for the big performance next week.”
Diamond’s piece will be a three-movement ballet that is a mixture of neoclassical and contemporary dance and will be performed en pointe.
All of the pieces will be performed en pointe as well, with the exception of two workshop dances. “Bach Concerto” and “Guys will be Guys” will be performed in flats.
Both Bonnefoux and Diamond are excited to see their students perform on Sunday.
“It’s been really great working with these kids,” Diamond said. “They are so enthusiastic, helpful and incredibly smart.”