Thursday evening, December 17th, 2015, at the Proctors Theatre in Schenectady held the Annual Melodies of Christmas 2015. Performances included the Empire State Youth Orchestra and Empire State Youth Choral. Dancers Michela Semenza and Lucas Rodriguez performed "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" with the Northeast Ballet Company.
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I am thrilled to be joining Northeast Ballet Company this year as Assistant Artistic Director. Northeast Ballet was a very important institution for me as a student and gave me the training which allowed me to achieve the goals which I had set for myself as a professional performer. As Assistant Artistic Director, I am excited to be able to help younger students develop their performing craft in hopes that they too will reach their future performing goals. Richard’s Bio: Richard hails from the town of Niskayuna and began his ballet training with Northeast Ballet Company at a young age, performing in the annual Nutcracker at Proctors Theater in Schenectady. After training at the University of Buffalo as a BFA musical theater major, Richard was cast in the Asian international tour of GREASE, the musical. In 2007, he performed in the Macau International Music Festival and since then has performed with various theater productions in the USA as well as around the world. Richard served as the Associate Choreographer for the USA and Brazil touring companies of the Tony Award-winning musical BILLY ELLIOT. Currently he is working as the dance captain for the upcoming Broadway musical BRIGHT STAR, written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. BRIGHT STAR will opening this December at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC and will continue on for a New York City Broadway opening on March 31, 2016.
Many of the parents, students, and patrons of Myers/Northeast Ballet have seen me around the studio for years, and in many ways I have grown up here. As a ballet student, I came to Myers while in high school and under the guidance of Miss Myers, continued dancing through my years at Union College and into adulthood. Over the course of these years, I often say I have seen generations of dancers grow up at Myers. Many of us who trained here at this school and Company have returned in some capacity as teachers, dancers, and rehearsal assistants as adults. I am proud to be one of those who have seen this School and Company flourish and thrive over the many years and I am proud to have been a part of it in some small way. When Miss Myers asked me to consider this new role, the magnitude of what she was entrusting me with was certainly not lost on me. Darlene Myers is an artist in the truest sense of the word, first and foremost. This School and Company is her life’s blood, her greatest creation, and the wisdom she has bestowed upon her students, dancers, and staff over the course of both organizations’ histories is priceless. I simply cannot imagine the Capital Region without our school where the very highest level of instruction and training is available to anyone who is willing to learn, or without Northeast Ballet, a Company that Myers has nurtured with every ounce of her energy for over twenty five years and has established itself as one of the foremost arts organizations of the Capital region. Myers has most generously and graciously taken myself and Richard Gatta under her wing as Assistant Artistic Directors, and I could not be more honored. I am also acutely aware of how much I need to learn. I was and have always been a student of Miss Myers, and will continue to be so. My hope is to serve this Company to the best of my ability and continue its tradition of classical ballet of the highest quality. My greatest thanks to Miss Myers and the Board of Trustees. Cheers to another wonderful Nutcracker season!
Ah, this is a year of transition for me. I appointed two new assistant artistic directors, a new staging director for act one party scene and renewed friendships with my NYCB colleagues. All of which are bearing fruit.
Having said that, change is very difficult for me. It is amazing to me that I have lasted this long in my business - one that is fraught with change and the conflict that sometimes accompany it. I feel it has made me into a stronger woman and director and a kinder, more understanding person as time passes. The day to day decisions of casting, recasting (when there is illness or injury), costume choices and choreography that highlights dancers’ attributes, imperfect venues causing restaging, class placement readjustments and staff juggling keep me up at night, especially at this time of year.
This is, and has been, my life. These are things my mentors never discussed with me but ones that I do discuss with NYCB colleagues and others. My hope is to pass my lessons learned on to my new assistant artistic directors: Melissa Barr and Richard Gatta (former graduates of Myers and Company members) and my new Staging director: Bruce Williams. They have all been dancers in our production for many seasons as well. So on top of the regular fall season, I realize that I have added this new additional time and energy demands to the mix.
As always, my first priority is to produce the best Nutcracker production I can for the audiences of Proctors Theatre, SPAC TEAS and Melodies /CBS. That is always the goal of the Fall Season. This includes, but not limited to: keeping my dancers, staff and costume people healthy on all levels while being as creative and fresh with new choreography and costume ideas for the public.
As I was in observing Company Class at Boston Ballet this past week, taught by Peter Stark formerly of NYCB, I could see why many of my dancers have been accepted into their prestigious school over the years to train. I felt humbled and honored to be observing this wonderful company. It struck me that it is a funny thing we “ballet people “ do -- and we do it for as long as our bodies and minds allow us to keep going. I’m a few years older than Mr. Stark, yet we both still find true joy in the art form. Next month I will be reuniting with another NYCB colleague – Mr. Peter Frame. He will be teaching a group of my dancers a private class in the city while Mr. Gatta and I rehearse one of our Guest artist couples (Amy Gilson & Tim Silver, also returning Company dancers), in an adjoining studio space. One of the things that has sustained Northeast Ballet is the generations of families in our annual productions, this is one of my accomplishments of which I am most proud.
Looking forward to such an exciting year of new and returning talent, ideas, choreography, costumes…..many changes, but ones I am thrilled to experience and share with you in our many regional venues.