Balancing beauty: Chautauqua School of Dance alumni, with guest artists, return to Amp for annual All-Star Ballet Gala


Chautauqua School of Dance alumni Isabella LaFreniere and Preston Chamblee, both currently with the New York City Ballet, rehearse for their Sunday performance in the Alumni All-Star Ballet Gala Friday in the Carnahan-Jackson Dance Studio. DAVE MUNCH / PHOTO EDITOR

The Chautauqua School of Dance will host the annual Alumni All-Star Ballet Gala in celebration of the phenomenal talent displayed, year after year, nurtured from school to stage. Curated by Sasha Janes, Artistic Advisor for Chautauqua Dance, the festivities will commence at  8:15 p.m. Sunday July 24 in the Amphitheater.

 Hailing from Perth, Australia, curator Janes received his formal dance training from the Australian Ballet School, leading him to dance professionally with the prestigious Australian Ballet, West Australian Ballet, Charlotte Ballet and Hong Kong Ballet.

Since then, he has choreographed numerous ballets for the Charlotte Ballet, including Carmen, Dangerous Liaisons, Wuthering Heights and Rhapsodic Dances.

“I look for the things that are really going to showcase dancers in a great way, things that are exciting and pleasing to the audience,” Janes said. “It’s a kind of balancing act, balancing historical significance and beauty.”

Janes choreographed the piece titled “Shelter” pas de deux by composer Ólafur Arnalds for this performance. Alumna Isabelle LaFreniere and guest artist Preston Chamblee are featured dancers in this piece, pairing along to a song filled with soaring strings and luminous pianos.

“Isabelle LaFreniere will be performing in ‘Black Swan’ as well as ‘Shelter’ — which are two very differing works,” Janes said. “ ‘Black Swan’ is a piece Isabelle always wanted to do, which is the point of this performance, putting together a show that gives artists an opportunity to grow.”

The all-star event collectively spotlights eight accomplished dancers, performing eight pieces that highlight a sensational mixed repertoire for an evening filled with contemporary and classical dance.

The 2021 Alumni All-Star Ballet gala features dancers Angelica Generosa, Pacific Northwest Ballet (2008, 2009, 2010); Anna Gerberich, Joffrey Ballet (2004); Isabella LaFreniere, New York City Ballet (2006, 2012); Brooklyn Mack, English National Ballet (2001); Dylan Wald, Pacific Northwest Ballet; Edson Barbosa, Joffrey Ballet; Preston Chamblee, New York City Ballet; and SeHyun Jin, New Jersey Ballet.

The pieces being presented at the gala include “Le Corsaire” cave pas de deux, “Black Swan” pas de deux, “Bells” pas de deux, “Stars and Stripes” pas de deux, “Shelter” pas de deux, “Moody Rhapsody,” “Dances at a Gathering” pas de deux, ending the evening with “Le Corsaire” pas de deux. 

“ ‘Le Corsaire’ is one of Brooklyn Mack’s famous roles,” Janes said. “He has a reputation of just being a phenomenal virtuoso dancer, so I make sure to always find a piece that shows off his technical ability and power — It is something I always look for, he is a real showstopper.”

“Moody Rhapsody,” composed by Astor Piazzolla, features the choreography of Edson Barbosa.

Rio de Janeiro-based Barbosa has served as company artist with the premier Joffrey Ballet since 2014. He is one of many powerhouse talents representing a national company set to perform at the Sunday night special performance.

He will be partnering with Anna Gerberich for his choreographed piece, fellow company artist at the Joffrey Ballet since 2015. Gerberich is a Dillsburg native, performing in two of the pieces being featured at the Gala. 

Additionally, the Chautauqua Dance Circle will host a preview of the show, with Janes as a guest, at 7 p.m. Sunday in Smith Wilkes Hall, to discuss the current — and future — generation of all stars.

“We really hope to showcase the true talent that has come through the School of Dance over the course of the years,” Janes said. “To see dancers return, redoing roles they have performed in the past, it all comes full circle.”

Tags : alumni all-star ballet galaaustralian balletballetCharlotte BalletChautauqua School of DanceChautauqua School of Dance Student GalaDance Galahong kong balletwest australian ballet
Jordyn Russell

The author Jordyn Russell

Jordyn Russell is a senior at Penn State University where she studies broadcast journalism and theater. Jordyn’s interest in reporting began during her freshman year when she was able to take her first journalism class, leading to her dream of becoming a news anchor within the entertainment industry. When she is not busy writing, Jordyn enjoys singing with her a cappella group, Shades of Blue, and performing in musicals.