JORDYN RUSSELL – STAFF WRITER
The Chautauqua School of Dance is set to present the first of two Student Galas at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater. The evening will highlight a mixed repertoire of new and established works, featuring the talent of the Chautauqua Apprentice Dancers.
From studio to stage, the School of Dance continues the long-standing tradition of promoting quality and excellence as a top-tier summer training program. Under the direction of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, the program remains focused on cultivating the next generation of stars in the world of dance.
“(Bonnefoux) has brought together an extremely talented group of young dancers, and while some have recently just become professionals, for the most part, these are dancers in training,” said Sasha Janes, director of contemporary studies. “The audience will not be able to tell the difference at the shows; these are really highly trained, exciting dancers, performing in three very different ballets.”
One of Janes’ choreographed pieces, “A Fraction of Abstraction,” is one of three ballets showcased this evening.
“It is my first time doing (‘Fraction of Abstraction’) in America,” said Janes, “and I am very excited to revisit the work.”
He wanted to reintroduce the piece here in Chautauqua, working to incorporate elements of both classical and modern dance to create a unique, contemporary piece, featuring music by John Adams and Jóhann Jóhannsson.
The gala will also feature “When We Gathered Beneath the Big Sky” and excerpts from “Raymonda Variations.”
“When We Gathered Beneath the Big Sky” was choreographed by award-winning choreographer Joseph Jeffries.
Jeffries has taught master classes and workshops at ballet schools all over the country, creating over 30 works for companies such as Ballet Memphis, Miami City Ballet and Harid Conservatory. Additionally, Jeffries serves as faculty with the Chautauqua School of Dance and the Northeast School of Ballet’s Conservatory Program.
“Raymonda Variations” was originally created by New York City Ballet co-founder and ballet master, George Balanchine. Featuring music by Russian composer Alexander Glazunov, the piece calls attention to a series of awe-inspiring solos, a pas de deux, as well as an opening and closing ensemble.
This showing of the piece, “Excerpts of Raymonda Variations,” was staged by Patricia McBride, director of ballet studies and master teacher. McBride stages a Balanchine work every summer, as Balanchine created many of his master works especially for her.
Deborah Sunya Moore, Institution senior vice president and chief program officer (interim) and vice president of performing and visual arts, expressed her appreciation and enthusiasm for the School of Dance ahead of the student gala.
“Our School of Dance is a boutique and specialized program that fosters incredible talent within a supportive community,” Moore said. “Our young dancers are inspired by professionals who are not only at the top of their field, but also alumni (that have) returned to Chautauqua with grace, gratitude, experience and an admirable desire to give back and inspire the next generation of dancers.”