Dance




New Faces at the Grand Rapids Ballet

Date: August 30, 2011

www.mlive.com/entertainment/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2011/0/new_faces_at_grand_rapids_ball.html

New faces at Grand Rapids Ballet Company add personality, depth

Published: Sunday, August 28, 2011, 7:00 AM     Updated: Sunday, August 28, 2011, 8:28 AM
GR Ballet.jpgReady to dance: New dancers, apprentices and trainees joining the Grand Rapids Ballet Company for the 2011-12 year include, from left, Megan DeMuro, Darrell Haggard, Connie Flachs, Hannah Wilcox, Mark "Dave" Naquin, Tara Gragg, Donnelly Ditzhazy, Cassidy Isaacson, Steven Houser, Yuka Oba and Elizabeth Kelly.

GRAND RAPIDS — Grand Rapids Ballet Company will have many new faces on stage for its 40th anniversary season.

Three newcomers, one promoted apprentice and a guest artist from last year join the professional company of 15 dancers.

Four new apprentices join one returning apprentice for a total of five.

Artistic director Patricia Barker also has added four trainees to the roster for a total of 24 dancers who will dance the season opening Sept. 15 with a 40th anniversary gala.

“We looked for good dancers who could do roles, are quick learners and that definitely have their own personality,” Barker said. “And I think you’ll see that on stage.”

Kyohei Giovanni Yoshida, who served as a resident guest artist last season, joins the professional company of seven men and eight women.

Yoshida’s an exciting dancer, Barker said.

“On top of that, he’s a very hard worker and a nice guy,” she said.

Sadie Brown, an apprentice last season, danced several performances in the title role in the company’s premiere of Mario Radacovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

“With her debut as Juliet, she proved her worth as a company dancer,” Barker said.

The total of nine apprentices and trainees will give the company the depth to dance larger works, such as George Balanchine’s seminal ballet “Serenade” in September and Lew Christensen’s comical “Con Amore” in February.

It also helps launch the next generation of professional ballet artists.

“One never knows who’s the next Swan Queen, and you don’t just go from school to Swan Queen,” Barker said. “There are steps in between.”

The four new apprentices include Megan DeMuro, from Muskegon, who first trained at Ballet Arts in Grand Haven under Jefferson Baum.

GRBC’s 2011-12 season will see the debut of a brand new Junior Company, replacing the School of Grand Rapids Ballet’s Junior and Senior Trainee program.

The four new trainees will work alongside the professional company, which takes class and rehearses Monday through Friday.

Two trainees are Michigan natives, Tara Gragg, from Flint; and Elizabeth Kelly, from Port Huron and a graduate of Grand Valley State University. The other are Donnelly Ditzhazy, of Columbus, Ohio; and Cassidy Isaacson, of Redmond, Wash.

Beginning ballet students typically take class or rehearse after school and on weekends, but trainees begin the process of working all day on their craft.

Trainees are unpaid, but expenses, such as ballet shoes, are covered.

“To dance all day long makes different demands on the body, and they’re allowed to make a few mistakes,” Barker said.

E-mail Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk: jkaczmarczyk@grpress.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ArtsWriter

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