7 Questions with Choreographer Kurt Douglas

The Providence audience met former Límon Dance Company dancer Kurt Douglas last season at FBP’s Spring Up Close On Hope program. In the next Up Close installment – which opens November 9 in the Black Box – the inventive choreographer behind Thrust offers a fresh new piece entitled, Sojourn. We sat down with Douglas to learn a bit more about his latest creation for FBP…

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Kurt, can you tell us about the style of your newest premiere for FBP?

My style of movement has always been rooted in the use of momentum, weight, gravity and risk taking. I am fascinated by crafting and creating patterns that manipulate the space to create different visual textures. I pushed the dancers to explore their use of falling into the floor. This idea is not always utilized in ballet dancing so it was a challenge. I enjoy introducing and trying different ideas that may not always work. I believe trying many different options until I find the one that flows and make sense. My new work is called “Sojourn” and I am truly proud of what the dancers and I have created together.

Tell us about the beautiful music the dancers will be reacting to. Did you find the music before you began working on the movement?

Yes! I have been wanting to work with this piece of music for a while now. The minimalist style of music inspires me and allows my imagination to soar in a multitude of different directions. The music is truly magical.

It really is. So once you have the music, where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration from many different places. I am particularly inspired by the environments I come in contact with and the diversity of different people around me. I love the outdoors and the unpredictability of nature. The dancers bring inspiration to me by just bringing their vulnerability into the rehearsal process.

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I love how you keep mentioning this partnership between you and the dancers in the creation process. What has the experience been like?

The dancers at FBP are truly stellar artists in every way. The community here at FBP is super supportive in and out of the studio. The energy in a room is incredibly important during my creative process. The dancers bring their A game every time we work together, and for that I am truly grateful to them.

“Their commitment to artistic excellence, creativity and courage always invigorates me.”

That’s so inspiring. Hopefully the audience can feel that as well! How do you think the Providence audiences will respond to this piece?

I think the Providence audiences will enjoy watching the beautiful dancers of FBP move in a contemporary way. They will enjoy the opportunity to get lost in the beautiful score and of the intricate visual patterns that the dancers create. The dancers truly make this piece their own and tell their own stories through the movement. I think that anyone who comes to see Up Close on Hope: Program 1 will not be disappointed.

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This is an entire program of premieres! How do you think people will react to seeing Sojourn in the Black Box Theatre?

The audience will accompany the dancers as they journey a from one unknown place to another. I hope that after seeing this work in the Black Box Theatre the audience’s imaginations will be sparked in a new and creative way. Hopefully they will reflect and celebrate their own journey’s after experiencing the work.

Up Close really is a special kind of performance, isn’t it? Does the Black Box present any challenges or unique opportunities choreographically?

One aspect about making a work in the Black Box Theatre is the intimacy of the space. The relationship between the dancers and the audience is special because the audience sits extremely close to the action happening on stage.

“You can hear the dancers breathing, see their sweat, and feel their raw and honest expressions of emotion. It’s truly a rare and memorably special opportunity to watch dance in such a close proximity to the stage. Come out and experience FBP for yourself.”

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Thank you so much, Kurt!

To see Sojourn and the rest of the premieres at Up Close On Hope, click here for tickets.

Photos by Dylan Giles.

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Meet our Nine(!) New Dancers

Festival Ballet Providence’s 41st season is about to be underway as the chatterBOXtheatre opens with Robin Hood this weekend. Just like this world premiere production of a classic tale, so much of this season mixes the familiar and beloved with the fresh and new. Our programs feature treasured classical ballets alongside daring contemporary works and bold new creations from our audiences’ favorite choreographers. We are also celebrating artistic director Misha Djuric’s 20th year at the helm (complete with an exciting evening of dance planned for November 3), while also welcoming nine new dancers making their debut with the company this season!

Get to know the newest members of the FBP family before you spot them on stage:

COMPANY DANCERS

Jay Markov

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Photo: Nathaniel Solis

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Previous Schools: Master Ballet Academy, San Francisco Ballet School
Previous Companies: Ballet Arizona, Los Angeles Ballet
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I look forward most to the ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ program in February and Swan Lake in the spring.

Charlotte Nash

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Photo: Kenneth Edwards

Hometown: Seattle, WA
Previous Schools: Pacific Northwest Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet School
Previous Companies: Houston Ballet, BalletMet
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I’m looking forward to performing Serenade because I love dancing Balanchine ballets.”

João Sampaio

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Hometown: Três Rios, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Previous Schools: Núcleo de Dança, Carlos Henrique Bonforte Balletarrj School of Dance
Previous Companies: Tulsa Ballet
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I’m excited for the chance to learn Balanchine’s Serenade–it’s sure to help me get through the cold New England winter!”

 

APPRENTICES

Jessica Alvarez

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Photo: Michael Woodall

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Previous Schools: Master Ballet Academy
Previous Companies: commercial dancer with Bloc LA
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I am most excited to perform in Swan Lake and Serenade for this season.”

Emily Lovdahl

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Photo: Marc Darling

Hometown: Racine, WI
Previous Schools: The Studio of Classical Dance Arts (WI), Milwaukee Ballet II, BalletMet Trainee Program
Previous Companies: Nevada Ballet Theatre
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I’m looking forward to so many things this season! Dancing Serenade (with NBT in 2017) is one of my favorite memories and I can’t wait to revisit it! I love Swan Lake and am really excited to be part of the company all coming together on this iconic ballet. I’m also really excited to explore the contemporary rep and challenge myself in that facet of my dancing!”

 

TRAINEES

Athina Alimonos

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Photo: Michael Cairns

Hometown: Hadley, MA
Previous Schools: East Street Ballet, Massachusetts Academy of Ballet
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I’m most excited to continue developing myself as an artist through the diverse repertoire Festival Ballet Providence has to offer.”

Nora Ambler
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Hometown: Cambridge, MA.
Previous Schools: Fresh Pond Ballet, Boston Ballet School, Orlando Ballet School
Previous Companies: American Repertory Ballet.
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“This season I am most excited for the opportunities I will have to meet and learn from new dancers, teachers and choreographers. The repertoire here is very diverse, and I am looking forward to being exposed to so many different styles!”

Sara Clarke

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Photo: Mark Santillano

Hometown: Vernon, CT
Previous Schools: Connecticut Concert Ballet, Mercyhurst University
Previous Companies: dancEnlight, Lake Erie Ballet
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I am excited to be joining a company with such a vast repertoire so I can explore different movement vocabularies and expand my artistry. I’m also excited to dance a Balanchine work for the first time and to dance in Swan Lake”

Julia Guiheen

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Photo: Maximilian Tortoriello

Hometown: Madison, NJ
Previous Schools: Studio Allegro School of Ballet, Butler University
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I am looking forward to working with lots of new choreographers as they create and set their work on the company. I’m also excited to get to know, dance with and learn from the other FBP dancers!”

 

 

 

Announcing SDI 2018 Faculty

Our Summer Dance Intensive 2018 Senior and Junior Programs are packed with a wide range of talented, diverse faculty bringing unique perspectives and styles to this one of a kind program! We’re thrilled to announce this season’s lineup of faculty! Below, bios and headshots for each of the members of the team!

IVAYLO ALEXIEV

Senior Program
Ballet, Pas de deux, Men’s Classes

Alexiev, Ivaylo

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Ivaylo Alexiev was born in Varna, Bulgaria. He started his ballet training with the Vaganova Method at the National Ballet School in Sofia. Mr. Alexiev than earned a scholarship from “UNESCO” to join the prestigious Academy of Ballet in Monte Carlo directed by Madame Marika Besobrasova where he graduated with a Diploma for a professional ballet dancer.

From 2001-2004 Ivaylo was a member of Le Ballet de L’Opera National de Bordeaux, France where he danced for three seasons participating in every production and world tours with the company. In 2004 Mr. Alexiev moved to Germany and worked with several contemporary companies. For two seasons under the direction of James Sutherland, Ivaylo was a soloist with Pforzheim Ballett where he danced in several modern productions such as- Carmen, Pink Floyd, Swan Lake and others. Mr. Alexiev took part in many Dance Galas in Europe and has been invited as a guest artist in France, Germany, Russia, Malta, Japan, USA and others. His repertory includes ballets such as Raymonda, Divertimento #15, Symphony in D, The Prodigal Son, Suite en Blanc, Sleeping Beaty, The Nutcracker, Giselle, Cinderella and others. Ivaylo has worked with some of the biggest names in European ballet including Elisabeth Platel, Charles Jude, Irek Mukhamedov, Roland Vogel, Attilo Labis, Eva Evdokimova.

Ivaylo Alexiev speaks five languages and obtained a diploma in dance pedagogy and history of ballet from L’Academie de danse classique Princesse Grace de Monte Carlo.  In 2010 Mr. Alexiev moved to US joining Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre as a principal dancer. In 2012 Ivaylo was invited to be a member of the faculty of Ballet Theatre of Boston. Part time faculty member at Boston Ballet School since 2014. North Atlantic Dance Theatre company coach since 2015. Ballet Master for Festival Ballet Providence from 2015-2017.
Faculty at Greater Boston School of Dance.

ASSAF BENCHETRIT

Senior Program
Ballet, Pas de deux, Variations

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Jenna McKerrow Wilson (as Sugar Plum Fairy) and Assaf Benchetrit (Prince) dance the Sugar Plum pas de deux from Act 2 of “The Nutcracker.”

Assaf Benchetrit began his dance and music studies at the Rubin Academy for Music and Dance in Jerusalem, Israel. Upon graduation, he danced with the Jerusalem Dance Theater, the Panov Ballet, and later with The Israeli National Ballet Company. During his military service, Assaf received the “Remarkable Dancer” prize from the Israeli government which allowed him to continue dancing while serving. After completing his military service, he arrived to United States to dance with companies such as The Joffrey, Metropolitan Classical Ballet, Alabama Ballet, and Gelsey Kirkland Ballet.

Throughout his career, Assaf toured through England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and numerous other countries. He performed lead roles in the majority of renowned ballet productions such as Swan Lake as Siegfried, Don Quixote as Basilio, La Corsaire as Ali, La Bayadere as Solar, Coppelia as Franz, Sleeping Beauty as the Prince, the title-role in Petrushka, and a number of George Balanchine works including Apolloin the title-role, Donizetti Variations and the Nutcracker as Cavalier. Assaf holds a joint B.S in computer science and B.F.A in dance degrees with academic honors from Montclair State University, and an M.F.A degree with academic honors in dance from Hollins/ADF/Frankfurt. He was a faculty member at Columbia University (Barnard College), Rutgers University, Montclair State University, and Raritan Valley Community College, where he taught ballet, mens’ class, pas de deux, variations, and modern dance. He is currently Assistant Professor of Dance at UNH.

JENNIFER DAVIS

Senior Program
Physical Therapy

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Jennifer Davis (right) with Company Dancer Kristy DuBois

Jennifer has been practicing outpatient physical therapy on the East Side of Providence since 2004, she joined University Orthopedics at the Butler campus in the spring of 2016. A former professional ballet dancer, Jennifer specializes in Dance Injury Rehabilitation and prevention. Jennifer enjoyed 18 years of performing dance all over the United States, Europe and China before retiring as a soloist from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in 1996, she went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Dance from Empire State College, S.U.N.Y and a Master’s of Science in Physical Therapy from The University of Rhode Island in 2001.

Jennifer developed and implemented an Injury Prevention program for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre school and company where she worked closely with Physicians and Physical Therapists at the University of Pittsburgh Sports Medicine. Jennifer has treated the cast of “A Chorus Line” and “Hairspray” backstage at the Providence Performing Arts Center and has worked with countless student and professional dancers from local studios including Festival Ballet Providence. She has been certified in Pilates exercise training and utilizes Pilates equipment and principals in conjunction with manual therapy for physical therapy assessment and treatment. Currently Jennifer is involved in a certification program with North American Institute for Manual Orthopedic Therapy and has most recently been trained as an instructor in Pilates Suspension exercise with Pilates Academy International in New York City. She is a longtime member of International Association for Dance Medicine and Science and serves on the board of the Dance Alliance of Rhode Island. She is most proud of her daughter Olivia and loves to swim, dance and sail during her free time. In 2016 Jennifer became Festival Ballet Providence’s resident physical therapist.

KURT DOUGLAS

Senior Program
Modern (Limón)

Kurt Douglas

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Kurt Douglas joined the Boston Conservatory faculty in 2015 and is an instructor of technique, repertory, and pedagogy for modern dance. Kurt also serves as artistic director for the Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s Summer Dance Intensive.

A graduate of New York’s LaGuardia High School of Music art and the performing Arts and originally from Guyana, Douglas earned a B.F.A. in dance from Boston Conservatory and an M.F.A. in dance from Hollins University.

After graduating from the Conservatory in 2001, he joined the Limón Dance Company, where he performed in many of Limón’s most influential works. He received a 2002 Princess Grace Award and was honored by an invitation to perform for the royal family of Monaco. In 2007, Douglas became the first African American to portray Iago in The Moor’s Pavane, José Limón’s most famous work. Douglas was named one of Dance Magazine’s “Top 25 to Watch” in the January 2006 issue. He danced from 2002 to 2007 in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and joined Ballet Hispanico from 2005 to 2006 under the direction of Tina Ramirez. In 2009 he joined the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company during their 40th anniversary season, touring throughout the United States and Asia. In 2011 he began touring with the Tony Award-winning musical “A Chorus Line” throughout the United States, Japan, Singapore, and Australia. In 2017 Kurt was invited to perform for the Boston Conservatory’s 150 anniversary gala at Symphony Hall hosted by Alan Cummings. Some guest artist credits include Aszure Barton & Artists, Prometheus Dance Company, Thang Dao Dance Company, Buglisi Dance Theatre, Dzul Dance, and the Sean Curran Dance Company.

Douglas remains invested in his teaching practices, conducting Limón Dance workshops in Boston, South Dakota, New York, Oregon,Texas, Pennsylvania, Haiti, France, England, Australia, and at prestigious institutions such as Harvard University, Southern Methodist University, the Juilliard School, SUNY Purchase, SUNY Brockport, Skidmore College, Festival Ballet Providence and Boston Conservatory. Kurt is currently a reconstructor with the Limón Foundation. In 2017 Kurt re-stage Jose Limón’s “A Choreographic Offering” for the Limón Company’s 71st Anniversary season. Douglas continues to serve as faculty with the Limón for Kids Program and the Limón Institute in New York City, the official school of the Limón Dance Foundation.

KIRSTEN EVANS

Company Dancer

Senior Program
Ballet, Variations

Evans, Kirsten

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Originally from Massachusetts, Ms. Evans began training in the FBP School at age 11. She performed as a member of FBP’s Junior Company for 5 years before joining the main company as a trainee in 2010. Ms. Evans has attended summer intensives with Bolshoi Ballet Academy, The Nutmeg Conservatory, and was a member of the Jacob’s Pillow Summer Dance Festival in 2009. Ms. Evans was a two-time finalist in the Youth American Grand Prix Ballet Competition in New York City, where she was awarded several scholarships as well as a traineeship with Ballet West in Utah. Previous roles with FBP include Wendy in Jorden Morris’ Peter Pan, the title role in Winthrop Corey’s Cinderella, Pas de Trois, Big Swans, and Cygnets in Swan Lake, Princess Tsarevna in Mihailo Djuric’s The Firebird, the roles of Sugarplum Fairy, Dew Drop Fairy, Clara, Spanish, and Marzipan in The Nutcracker, and principal in Etudes, as well as principal roles in George Balanchine’s Apollo, Allegro Brilliante, Agon, and Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. Kirsten has also been featured in contemporary works by Viktor Plotnikov, Dominic Walsh, Ilya Kozadayev, Joseph Morrissey, and others. Kirsten works as the PR and Communications Assistant for FBP and is also pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts/Journalism at Providence College. This is Ms. Evans’ eighth season with the company.

LINDSAY GUARINO

Senior Program
Jazz

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Lindsay Guarino is an educator, scholar and choreographer. In her current role at Salve Regina University, she is the director of the dance program and artistic director and founder of Extensions Dance Company. A native of Buffalo, NY, Lindsay has taught master classes and choreographed in a wide range of jazz styles at colleges, dance studios and festivals across the country. Her jazz research has been presented at conferences throughout the New England region and also in Chicago, Arizona, New York, and Texas. Lindsay reaches dance educators around the globe as a professor for the National Dance Education Organization’s nationally regarded Online Professional Development Institute, where she teaches Jazz Dance Theory and Practice. Her passion for preserving and elevating jazz dance led her to publish Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches in 2014; the textbook inspired a national conference in the summer of 2016 which Lindsay planned and hosted at Salve Regina. Her greatest professional accomplishment to date is the growth of the dance program at Salve Regina University and her work with Extensions Dance Company. Lindsay holds a BFA in dance from the University at Buffalo (SUNY) and an MFA in dance from the University of Arizona.

LETICIA GUERRERO

FBP Ballet Master

Senior & Junior Programs
Ballet, Pointe, Variations

Guerrero, Leticia
Leticia Guerrero and Davide Vittorino in George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante. © The George Balanchine Trust.

A native of Venezuela, Ms. Guerrero received her early training at the Keyla Ermecheo Ballet School in Caracas. She has performed with numerous companies including Ballet Nuevo Mundo de Caracas, Metropolitan Ballet of Caracas, Minnesota Dance Theatre, Michigan Ballet, Charleston Ballet Theatre, Jose Mateo’s Ballet Theatre and Cadence Dance Project. She has created leading roles in ballets in Gianni Dimarco’s El Amor Brujo, Schéhérazade and Azucar, Plotnikov’s Carmen, The Widow’s BroomLoof and Let Dime and Coma, De Bouteiller’s Romeo and Juliet and FBP’s 2006 premiere of Don Quixote. Other leading roles include Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, Rubies, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, Tarantella, Who Cares?, Pelzig’s The Princess and the Pea, Swan Lake and Eldar Aliev’s A Thousand and One Nights. Ms. Guerrero also participated in the 2004 Venezuela Del Mundo Gala and was recognized for representing Venezuela internationally with high standards and “projection, dignity and beauty.” In addition Providence Mayor David Cicilline awarded a Citizens Citation for her “exceptional and wholehearted devotion for the art of dance.”

After her retirement from the stage in May 2012, she transitioned into her new role as Ballet Mistress with the Company, and as a faculty member with FBP School where she continues to pass on her knowledge to a new generation of dancers.

JEREMY RUTH HOWES

Senior Program
Modern (Graham)

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Jeremy Ruth is a professional dancer, choreographer and educator in the Boston area. She graduated from the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Dance with a BFA in Dance Performance. While at Hartt she performed soloist roles in La Bayadere, Guernsey Fields, Martha Graham’s Steps in the Street and numerous other classical and contemporary works. She has danced professionally with Northern Ballet Theatre and Virginia Ballet Theatre dancing soloist roles in The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker and George Balanchine’s Serenade. Currently she is a principal dancer with Anna Myer and Dancers creating roles in Myer’s original choreography. Jeremy Ruth is on faculty at Dean College teaching ballet and dance composition. She also has choreographed for the Dean College Dance Company for the past five years. She has created ten original works for the company. Jeremy Ruth teaches at Walker’s Dance in Lowell and this is her tenth year with Northeast School of Ballet. Jeremy Ruth is also currently pursuing her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College.

ALEX LANTZ

Company Dancer

Senior & Junior Programs
Character, Men’s Class, Pas de Deux

Lantz Alex HS

Lantz, Alex

Alex Lantz began his dance training at age seven at the Rockford Dance Company in his home town of Rockford, Illinois and was accepted into the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division in 2006 at age 17. Mr. Lantz joined the Royal Winnipeg Ballet company as an apprentice in 2010. He performed with the company in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Moulin Rouge – The Ballet, Dracula, Wonderland, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, Svengali and Giselle. Mr. Lantz also joined the company in 2010 on a three-city tour of Israel part of the RWB’s 70th Anniversary tour. Lantz joined Festival Ballet Providence in 2012. He has performed the roles of Spanish, Snow King and Sugarplum Cavalier in The Nutcraker, has been featured in Dominic Walsh’s Afternoon of the Faun, Ilya Kozadayev’s Moonlight Pas De Deux, and has also performed leading roles in Victor Plotnikov’s Orchis and Coma as well as principal roles in George Balanchine’s Agon and Tchaikovky Pas de Deux. Mr. Lantz also has performed a number of character roles including Von Rothbart in Swan Lake, The Witch in Hansel & Gretel, Kastchai in The Firebird, Smee in Jordan Morris’ Peter Pan and Herr Drosselmeyer in The Nutcracker.

 

MARISSA MASSON

Junior Program
Jazz

 

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Marissa Masson is a New England based dancer and choreographer. As a student at Salve Regina University, she is minoring in dance and is currently a member of Extensions Dance Company, where she has had the opportunity to perform in pieces by artists such as Kat Pantos, Joe Celej, Joshua Blake Carter, John Lehrer, Rich Ashworth, Melanie George, Spencer Gavin Hering, and Kirsten Harvey.  She has performed at the American College Dance Association’s adjudicated concert in Potsdam, NY (2017) and presented her piece, “Weight of the World” in their adjudicated concert in Boston, MA (2018). This piece was also chosen to perform at the Boston Contemporary Dance Festival (2017). This summer, it will perform again at The Southern Vermont Dance Festival. Marissa has performed in other events throughout the New England region, including Urbanity Dance’s Liberty Hotel New Year’s Eve Party. She has completed intensives with Pantos Project (2014, 2016, 2017) and the National Dance Education Organization’s Jazz Dance: Roots and Branches in Practice Conference in Newport, RI (2016), where she performed and was a student host.  She has also had the honor of being the rehearsal assistant for Jessica Pearson and Melanie George. In the summer and winter of 2017, she was the business operations and company intern for Urbanity Dance in Boston. She is currently the Operations Manager Intern for Pantos Project Dance.

MARY ANN MAYER

Director, FBP School

Senior & Junior Programs
Ballet, Pointe, Variations

Mayer, Mary Ann HS

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Ms. Mayer has been affiliated with Festival Ballet Providence since 1976. As a founding member of Festival Ballet Providence, Ms. Mayer performed in many company productions while earning a BA from the University of Rhode Island. Following her performing career, she worked as stage manager for the company for several seasons before turning her focus to teaching and training young dancers. She attended several teaching programs at the National Ballet School of Canada, and in New York and Philadelphia with David Howard and Jurgen Schneider. From 1991 to 1996 she served as teacher, choreographer and Acting Director of Dance at the Performing Arts School of Worcester; returning to Festival Ballet Providence as a teacher in 1998.

In 2004, Ms. Mayer became Festival Ballet Providence’s School Director. Over the past several years the school has continued to grow under the guidance of Ms. Mayer and the artistic vision of Misha Djuric. Together they have taken the school to a place that boasts a distinguished international faculty, an outstanding young children’s program, a trainee program for the serious advanced level student, an extensive financial aid program, engaging summer programs, and an open enrollment feature that provides the community access to this art form through a variety of classes and workshops. Ms. Mayer’s students have gone on to dance with professional companies and to study at prestigious schools and universities throughout the country.

DINA MELLEY

FBP School Faculty

Junior Program
Modern

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Dina Ternullo Melley received a BFA in dance from the Boston Conservatory and received additional training from the Joffrey School in San Antonio and Gus Giordano in Chicago. Dina has performed master works by José Limón, Paul Taylor, Martha Graham and Donald McKayle and has toured and conducted workshops nationally and internationally with the Boston Liturgical Dance Ensemble. Dina has had the pleasure of both choreographing works for and performing with the Baton Rouge Ballet Theater, Of Moving Colors, the Louisiana State University College of Music and Dramatic Arts, the Arizona State University Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Desert Dance Theatre, andUniversity of Louisiana at Lafayette’s State of LA Danse.Mrs. Melley was the choreographer for LSU Opera’s production of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice and has choreographed and performed for ASU’s season-opening Gala Concert. She has also performed withBaton Rouge Ballet Theatre’s Ballet for Children, AZDance Group, and Cadence Dance Project. Dina has been on faculty at Boston College, Regis College, Louisiana State University, and University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she was also the Artistic Director of the Dance Guild at UL Lafayette. She has also had the pleasure of working with our next generation of young dancers at numerous schools throughout the eastern, southern and southwestern United States. Mrs. Melley is excited to be living back in the Northeast with her husband and son and being apart of the Festival Ballet School faculty.

MARISSA PARMENTER

Director, Summer Dance Intensive

Senior & Junior Programs
Ballet, Pointe

Parmenter, Marissa HS

Parmenter, Marissa

Marissa Parmenter danced at Festival Ballet Providence from 2002-2006 and 2014-2017. Her most memorable FBP roles were Pingril, the witch in The Widow’s Broom, the Nurse and Lady Capulet in Romeo & Juliet, Bernarda in House of Bernarda Alba and Saskia in For Saskia. In addition to FBP, she danced for Les Grands Ballet Canadiens de Montreal, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater and BalletMet Columbus. In 2008, Ms. Parmenter was honored to participate in Paris’s prestigious L’Ete de la Danse with Les Grands Ballet. She has performed as a guest artist with many companies in the US including Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance, and Boston Ballet. Ms. Parmenter has been fortunate enough to create works with leading choreographers, Ohad Naharin, James Kudelka, Mauro Bigonzetti, Edwaard Liang, Dominic Walsh and Viktor Plotnikov. She has also had the pleasure of performing works by icons such as Christopher Wheeldon, Jiri Kylian, Balanchine, Sir Frederick Ashton, Jean-Christophe Maillot, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano and Alejandro Cerrudo.

Ms. Parmenter was on faculty at BalletMet Academy and Passe Dance Center. She has been a guest teacher for Rice University, Sam Houston University, University of Houston, and Wheaton College. Ms. Parmenter has been awarded the Sono Osato and the Caroline H. Newhouse grants for dancer higher education. Her choreography has been performed at Hollins University and Wheaton College.

Ms.Parmenter received her MFA from Hollins University in collaboration with the Forsythe Company in 2014. She is an Associate Professor at Boston Conservatory at Berkeley College. She is on faculty at FBP School as well as Company Manager, Director of FBP School’s Summer Dance Intensive and Development Director.

TY PARMENTER

Company Dancer

Senior Program
Ballet, Pointe, Improv

Parmenter, Ty HS

Parmenter, Ty

Ty Parmenter returned to Festival Ballet Providence in 2014 after having been with the company from 2003-2006. His most memorable FBP roles were the Eunuch in Scherezade, Romeo in Romeo & Juliet, Faun in Afternoon of a Faun, and Principal Male in Rubies. He returned to FBP after having danced with Hubbard Street 2, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater and BalletMet Columbus. He has performed as a guest artist with many companies in the US including Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, New Choreographers Initiative, and Les Grands Ballet Canadiens. In 2006, he performed in the Mozart Sommer Festival in Wurzberg, Germany. Mr. Parmenter has been fortunate enough to create works with leading choreographers such as James Kudelka, Edwaard Liang, Dominic Walsh, Andrea Miller, Christian Spuck, Gabrielle Lamb and Viktor Plotnikov. He has also had the pleasure of performing works by Balanchine, Christopher Wheeldon, Mauro Bigonzetti, Matthew Bourne, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano and Alejandro Cerrudo.

In 2012, Mr. Parmenter was awarded the Columbus Dances Fellowship from the Greater Columbus Arts Council for his piece There is Silence. He was on faculty at Passe Dance Center and has been a guest teacher at Rice University, Sam Houston University and the University of Houston. He is currently on faculty at FBP School as well as Digital Media Coordinator. Ty has choreographed four new works on the FBP company and seven new works for the FBP school.

RUKA WHITE

Senior Program
Modern (Horton)

Ruke WhiteHS

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Ruka Hatua-Saar was born in Aviano, Italy and raised in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He received his training as a scholarship student with Miami City Ballet and was a a dancer in the training company. Upon graduating from the Dillard School of the Arts, he obtained a B.F.A and an M.F.A in Dance from Florida State University and Holllins University; respectively. He is an acclaimed national/ international dancer , having performed with companies such as: Dayton Contemporary; Philadanco; Armitage GONE!; and the Límon Dance Company. He has served as adjunct professor of dance at Wright State University; University of Dayton; Boston Conservatory; Tufts University and University of the Arts.

“Ballet in the Library” Goes Under The Sea

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Here in the Creative Capital, art is constantly being imagined, created, and shared. One of the greatest gifts an artist can give is to inspire and educate developing young minds to dream up the next masterpiece. At FBP, we are dedicated to helping raise the next generation of artists in Providence with our extensive outreach program.

This season, FBP has brought enchanting dance experiences to hundreds of children in Rhode Island through our “Ballet in the Library” series, sparking the fire of passion in the hearts of countless youth along the way. In preparation for one of the most whimsical ballets the Company has ever taken on, Little Mermaid, a team of dancers led by Outreach Director Valerie Cookson-Botto will be popping up in libraries in Providence, Cranston, Jamestown, North Kingstown, and Peach Dale to perform an interactive reading of Little Mermaid. These fun events are the perfect way to get your littles excited for the ballet, while engaging in your community arts scene and exposing your children to art in a unique, approachable way.

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Of course, community engagement is all about sharing the experience of dance with those around you, and dance is all about moving your body- so it wouldn’t be a proper FBP Outreach event without some dancing! FBP dancers will teach the children to move like they are underwater, practicing the movements of a variety of sea creatures to create an original ocean dance.

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What’s a little pop-up party without a craft, right? Children will be invited to make their very own fish to take home with them- and then bring along to the theater to see FBP’s Little Mermaid live on stage April 27-29! Fin-tastic fun for the whole family!

For a schedule of FBP’s “Ballet in the Library” series, see below:

North Kingstown Free Library- Tuesday, 4/17; 10am

Peach Dale Library- Wednesday, 4/18; 10:30am

Jamestown Library- Wednesday, 4/18; 2pm

Cranston Central Library- Thursday, 4/19; 10:30am

Rochambeau Library-Tuesday, 4/24; 10:30am

Washington Park Library- Tuesday, 4/24; 1pm

Mount Pleasant Library- Wednesday, 4/25; 10am

Olney Library- Thursday 4/26; 10am

Wanskuck Library- Thursday, 4/16; 1pm

For tickets to FBP’s Little Mermaid, click here.


This post was written by Kirsten Evans. The author is in her eighth season as a Company Dancer with Festival Ballet Providence. She is also the Company PR & Communications Assistant, as well as the writer of a personal blog, Setting The Barre.

5 Questions for “Little Mermaid” Choreographer Mark Diamond

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In just a few short weeks, FBP will make a splash at The Vets, bringing Mark Diamond’s bubbly adaptation of Little Mermaid to the stage for the first time in New England. Before taking on his current role as the director of Charlotte Ballet II, Mark Diamond danced with several professional ballet companies in Europe and the US, including Hamburg Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, andPittsburgh Ballet Theater. Today we are sitting down with the choreographer to learn a bit about his version of the classic fairytale…

Hello, Mark! Let’s dive in (ha). What inspired you to create a ballet version of Little Mermaid?

When Charlotte Ballet asked me to create a family ballet, I felt that the Little Mermaid was a great story because of the juxtaposition of two worlds, the land and the sea. And also, because it is a love story.

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That beautiful opposition between land and sea must have posed some unique challenges in terms of choreography. How did you go about creating an underwater world? 

The idea of the sea (and under the sea) is that everything is constantly moving with natural beauty; which is what dance is about. The dancer playing the little mermaid can never stand or walk while under the sea; so I have men carriers, which I call the Undertow run and carry her about the stage. Costumes are flowy and representative of different sea elements and creatures. And of course the lighting and projections emphasize the exaggerated colors of the water, and of the constant movement.

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Sounds lovely! Can you describe the high-tech elements that were recently incorporated in the show?

The use of projections on top of the scenery really helps with the constant flux of visuals that are under water.

*Pro Tip: For an inside look at the making of the Little Mermaid costumes which include one-of-a-kind 3D printed elements, click here!*

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There seems to be a shift in technique used from the dancers under the sea versus those on land. What can the audience expect to see in terms of style? 

In general, the movement under the sea is natural or, in the style of contemporary dance; especially for the Undertow men. The dance styles utilized in the land scenes are all classical or “character” dance.

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Little Mermaid is such a classic story. What elements of the original story did you incorporate and what did you make your own? Did the popular Disney adaptation inspire you in any way?

I have followed the story from Hans Christian Anderson (whose works are always a bit dark and depressing) as closely as possible but not always in the details. In dance we always have to take some artistic license to make the translation work.

“I have made the interpretation more colorful and joyful and have incorporated elements of joy, yearning, humor and hope.”

I have choreographed a few storybook ballets and I always try to totally avoid any adaptations used by Disney. I also felt it would be very irresponsible to ask families to bring their children and serve them the ancient, dismal and depressing ending that Hans Christian Anderson used.

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Both creativity and balance are so key when it comes to making something exciting and original for children. The Company has been looking forward to bringing this ballet to life! Thanks, Mark!

To see Little Mermaid make a splash on stage, click here for tickets.

Photos via Charlotte Ballet.


This post was written by Kirsten Evans. The author is in her eighth season as a Company Dancer with Festival Ballet Providence. She is also the Company PR & Communications Assistant, as well as the writer of a personal blog, Setting The Barre.

Welcome yon Tande

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FBP’s Up Close On Hope (UCOH) series is all about showcasing emerging choreographers in collaboration with our versatile company of dancers to produce a uniquely intimate experience. This month FBP welcomes two new choreographers to our UCOH roster. Today we are welcoming yon Tande, local performance artist and choreographer, to the FBP family.

yon Tande works in the areas of “performance, exhibition, curation, and education”. He has performed with a number of professional dance companies including Martha Graham Dance Company, and has taught internationally at an impressive collection of institutions including Peridance Center, Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre, and The Ailey School. yon Tande earned a B.F.A. in Theatre Arts/Dance (Howard University), an M.F.A. in New Media Arts and Performance (Long Island University) and is presently an Institute for the Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts Driskell Fellow.  That’s quite the resumé!

Bringing his worldly talents to Providence, yon Tande has worked as the Dance Manager for AS220, choreographer for Trinity Rep’s A Christmas Carol, and is currently the Program Director at the Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island. Today we hear from yon Tande himself, all about his background, creation process, and the poignant adaptation of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”, coming to the Black Box Theater this March…

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Hello, yon Tande! Let’s start at the beginning. What is your first dance-related memory?

Performing for my entire family around the house as a young boy, dressed in all kinds of get-ups that I could put together. Also, being the only boy in a dance class full of young girls and not having any sense of discomfort.

Haha! Your sense of self is still so strong and inspiring. How has your experience performing and working with so many incredible dance companies shaped you as an artist? 

It has given me the opportunity to experience a range of approaches to creating dance from the highly reverent to the supreme irreverent. This has nurtured in me the importance of being true to my particular voice and the necessity to continue to nourish my artistry.

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So were you always interested in creating movement?

I have always been a creator of movement. From my early young teen years of dancing in the circles of Chicago House clubs, to the more formal training in dance studios, I have always loved creating movement. In my years as a young choreographer, discovering my vocabulary was difficult, but the basic idea of creating movement always provoked my interest as a means of sharing my point of view about the world with the world.

I love the idea of choreography as a medium for commenting on the world, to the world. What is your choreographic process like?

Working on my independent projects, I have found that I can have a more flexible process of seeking, crafting and throwing away. Working as a guest choreographer means that time is a premium, so I have to come in much more prepared with specific ideas to share. I love to collaborate with dancers, as I am very interested in how they respond to the same ideas that I bring to them.

How does music speak to you?

I have always thought of music in dance like a score for the environment, in that it frames the particular scenario that I’m working to create rather than completely dictates what is happening. I am more interested in how music functions as dynamic rhythm and how that instigates me to create.

“That’s why I love the Stravinsky Rite of Spring; its absolutely driving dynamic is invigorating.”

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We are so excited to share your work with the FBP audience for the first time ever! What has your experience working with the dancers of FBP been like so far? 

Due to the state of dance presently, I think versatility is expected more now than in the past. It has been very interesting to witness the translation of my dance language through the dancers’ bodies. This, for me, is a key component to working as a choreographer.

I like to leave space for the dancer to bring their whole self to the process. I have never been interested in the dancer trying to do exactly what I do; I want to know how the dancer’s body understands the information. I have found this to be the case at FBP. Time is limited, so efficiency is paramount, nevertheless, when the dancer finds a way to put their “stank” on the movement, that’s awesome and exciting.

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Their “stank”, haha- I love that! The piece you are taking on for Up Close On Hope, Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”, is so iconic. How are you using the work of other artists to inspire and help guide you through this momentous undertaking?

Well, you know, this is the “golden fleece” of contemporary choreography. It is the “sacred” cup that eventually, we all drink from (in some way, shape or form). The music is innovative, challenging and frightening, everything that intrigues me as a creative. So many choreographers have created their version that it’s difficult not to refer to all the versions I have seen.

Nevertheless, I decided once it was confirmed that we would do this, I was not going to look at any other Rite of Spring. But, of course, that music comes on, and all the versions lying dormant in my memory start to come up, especially that of Graham’s (whose I am so close too and Bausch’s, whose I love so much). However, what I am mainly inspired by is ritual. Ritual is a recurring factor in all my work, as it communicates in a clear and simple way.

“The narrative embedded within ritual asks us to focus on the dance in a different way, not as just movement, but as human communication- a need, a desire, a function.” 

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We are so excited to bring your work to the FBP audience for the first time! What can the audience expect to gain from seeing your work at Up Close On Hope?

The legend of Rite of Spring is so great, in that it incited the audience to reject it vehemently. I wonder what that would be today. What would it take for an audience to be so strongly moved by concert dance today. The audience should see/feel rhythmic articulation, group cooperation, bold dynamism and hopefully things I don’t even know. Maybe they will gain an urgency about being alive.

“I want the audience to be moved: kinesthetically, intellectually, and soulfully. I hope that it engages the audience so fully that it infects them with the desire to seek out dance and performance and to get involved.”

 

Beautifully put. Why do you feel that collaboration and creation are important in a small community like Providence?

This is how we get to know each other, it is how we begin to see each other in our truths. If we never endeavor to work with folks and create together, we cannot experience the broadest sense of humanity. Even working in likeness tempts the fate of difference. What if I discover this person actually does not share the same values, what now?! In this process of collaboration and creation the sharing of resources, itself, becomes a value.

 

Thank you, yon Tande!

To see yon Tande’s “The Rite of Spring” at Up Close On Hope, click here.


This post was written by Kirsten Evans. The author is in her eighth season as a Company Dancer with Festival Ballet Providence. She is also the Company PR & Communications Assistant, as well as the writer of a personal blog, Setting The Barre.

Say Hello To Kurt Douglas

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FBP’s 40th Anniversary Season continues with the second installment of Up Close On Hope (UCOH). FBP’s Black Box Theater series has become known for presenting world premieres from emerging choreographers in an intimate setting. Next month, Up Close honors that tradition by introducing the FBP audience to two new UCOH creators. One of those choreographers is the brilliant Kurt Douglas.

Currently serving on the faculty at Boston Conservatory, Kurt Douglas has shared his talent with a number of renowned dance companies including Limón Dance Company, Ballet Hispanico, and Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. Douglas has performed on stages all across the globe, and was given the prestigious Princess Grace Award recognizing exceptional professional dancers in 2002.

We checked in with Kurt to hear a bit more about his background, his experience touring the world with the Tony Award-winning musical A Chorus Line, and what it’s like working with the dancers of FBP on his latest creation…

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Hey, Kurt! Let’s jump right in. What is your first dance-related memory?

My earliest memory was from my first year as a student at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High school of Music Art and the Performing Arts in NYC. I remember sneaking up to the top floor dance studios to watch the senior dance majors during their Martha Graham Technique Classes.

“It was like watching electricity fly through space. I was inspired, I was hooked.” 

Wow. It seems you really were hooked- from there you earned your B.F.A. from Boston Conservatory and your M.F.A. at Hollins University. How do you think this education shaped your career as an artist? 

Investing in my education has given me an opportunity to gain perspective into the possibilities of what movement can evoke. I was able to learn from my professors as well as from my colleagues.

“Observing and learning from the journey of my fellow students inspired my creativity and empowered my own agency.”

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I love the idea that observing can be very empowering. So when you started dancing professionally yourself, how did that part of your career influence your expression as a choreographer?

Working with these incredible companies has helped me gain tools while I continue to develop my own choreographic voice. The experience and growth I gained from touring the world and experiencing other cultures can never be replaced. For that I feel truly blessed.

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Your career has been very diverse. What was it like to tour the country performing the Tony Award-winning musical A Chorus Line and how did this differ from the previous companies you were a part of?

The biggest difference was the amount of performances per week. With A Chorus Line we performed 8 shows a week compared to 2-3 shows a week while in the other companies. Getting to perform A Chorus Line was an amazing experience. The most challenging parts were vocal maintenance (taking care of my voice) and keeping the show feeling fresh after 250 performances. The best rewards were performing at the Sydney Opera House in Australia, the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and the Akasaka Palace in Tokyo. The time I spent in these countries taught me so much about myself.

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And now we are so lucky to have you in our lovely little corner of the world! What is your favorite part of the creation process? 

My favorite part is working in the studio with the artists. I love trying to figure out solutions to complex choreographic challenges while in the rehearsal process.

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How has your experience been working with the dancers of FBP? 

“Working with the incredible artists at FBP has been truly rewarding. The dancers energy and commitment to the process is astounding. Each dancer brings their unique and rich movement history to the process and I can’t wait to share it with the Providence community.” 

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Thank you so much, Kurt!

To see Kurt’s world premiere at Up Close On Hope, click here.


This post was written by Kirsten Evans. The author is in her eighth season as a Company Dancer with Festival Ballet Providence. She is also the Company PR & Communications Assistant, as well as the writer of a personal blog, Setting The Barre.

Live Music Brings New Dimensions To Stravinsky’s “The Soldier’s Tale”

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Next weekend’s “Director’s Choice” program is packed with all kinds of excitement- an iconic classic, a Tony Award-winning choreographer, a world premiere- but there’s one thing everyone is buzzing about: LIVE MUSIC.

FBP’s brand new adaptation of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale will feature inventive choreography by Viktor Plotnikov, spoken word narration by local actor Nigel Gore, and live music on stage, played by a septet of musicians from the Rhode Island Philharmonic under the expert direction of Alexey Shabalin.

The Russian-born musical genius has received a number of impressive accolades celebrating his talent, from distinguished awards in Moscow to special performance opportunities here in the United States. Shabalin is currently a violinist with the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Artist-Director of the RI Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. Shabalin has also devoted much of his time to working with aspiring musicians at prestigious universities including Brown University, MIT, Providence College, and Rhode Island College. We caught up with the accomplished conductor to get the inside scoop on this exclusive collaboration…

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Hello Alexey! We are so honored to have you on our “Director’s Choice” artistic team. How did you get involved in this collaboration with Festival Ballet Providence (FBP) and The Soldier’s Tale?

 

The community of musicians and artists here in RI have a tight connection, so I got to know Mihailo Djuric a long time ago. It’s a great pleasure and a privilege for me to celebrate this special occasion – the 40th anniversary of Festival Ballet.

 

Thank you for helping us celebrate! Now, I have heard multiple versions of the Soldier’s Tale score using different combinations of instruments. Will the “Director’s Choice” audience be hearing the original version of the score? 

 

Yes. There are many versions of The Soldier’s Tale- the play, suite, trio- but there is not a ballet version. In 1918, [Igor] Stravinsky wrote the score for the play The Soldier’s Tale and revised some of the movements several times. In 1924,  J.& W.Chester  published the final version of the score. Later on, Stravinsky recorded his composition 3 different times using the 1924 version of the piece. We will also be using the original 1924 version of the score.

 

And what about the changing instrumentations? It seems the arrangements evolved with the piece over the years. How is it decided which instruments will play?

 

As Stravinsky said: “The discovery of the American Jazz has affected my life to the greatest degree. My piece [The Soldier’s Tale] uses the same instruments as they did in jazz of early 20th century, with the exception of saxophone, which was replaced by bassoon”.

 

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How much of the score has been modified to accommodate Viktor’s vision for this new adaption?

 

“The involvement of this new component, the art of ballet, gives this composition a new dimension.” 

 

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It’s such a special treat for the dancers of FBP to perform to live music. Have you worked on this sort of collaboration or conducted for a ballet before? 

 

I am symphony orchestra conductor, so this is a totally new experience for me. Now I am dealing with the syntheses of expression of human body and art of sound. I enjoy it very much!

 

What are you most excited about for this production?

 

 We are very excited to present to the audience the different vision of  The Soldier’s Tale as a world premiere ballet. I think for all artists, it’s essential to present something that the audience has never seen, heard, or read before.

 

That is so true. But Stravinksy’s scores are notoriously challenging to perform. How are you working to make sure everything goes smoothly with the dancers and musicians?

 

All of the musicians are great professionals from the RI Philharmonic, and I believe that we will be able to overcome the many difficulties of the score. Without exaggeration, I can say that the score of The Soldier’s Tale is a concert for seven solo instruments- violin, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, double bass and percussion- as well as a narrator.

 

Stravinsky himself said: “My musical ideas of the ’20s were directed towards the style of instrumental solos. The sound characteristic of the The Soldier’s Tale is the fiddling of the violin and the rhythmic patterns of the drums, the violin is the soldier’s soul, and the drums are delivery”.

 

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Thank you, Alexey!

 

To see Alexey and the dancers in action, and hear the magnificent musicians performing Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale live on stage, click here.

 


 

This post was written by Kirsten Evans. The author is in her eighth season as a Company Dancer with Festival Ballet Providence. She is also the Company PR & Communications Assistant, as well as the writer of a personal blog, Setting The Barre.