Guest Stager: Philip Neal

Today Ballet San Jose is pleased to have Philip Neal in the studio working to stage Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free for our MasterPieces program, which will be performed at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts on February 20-22, 2015. Neal will work with the Company through October 15, and we are very excited to have him in the building. Read Neal’s biography below to learn more about this talented artist.

Philip Neal

After a 23-year tenure with New York City Ballet, 17 years as a Principal Dancer, Philip Neal currently is a Repetiteur for the George Balanchine Trust and the Jerome Robbins Rights Trust, staging the ballets of both legendary choreographers throughout the world. He has also successfully embarked on choreographic ventures, having been commissioned to craft five original works for Richmond Ballet and invited to participate in the New York Choreographic Institute. Neal is a guest instructor for numerous international dance companies and schools, including Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and the School of American Ballet. In addition, from 2010-2013, Neal directed developmental efforts, fundraising of major gifts, Board Trustee recruitment and special events in Palm Beach County on behalf of Miami City Ballet.

Neal began his dance training at age 11 at the School of Richmond Ballet, where he was recognized by Edward Villella and offered a summer scholarship to the School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet. In 1985, Neal won a silver medal in the International Prix de Lausanne ballet competition. Neal graduated magna cum laude from St. Paul’s School in 1986 and was named a Presidential Scholar of the Arts by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, as part of that honor he performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. In addition to his training in New York and Richmond, Philip Neal studied at the Royal Danish Ballet School in Copenhagen, Denmark. Neal joined New York City Ballet’s corps de ballet in 1987. In the spring of 1991, he was promoted to the rank of soloist, and was promoted to the rank of principal dancer during the 1992-1993 Season.

Neal was privileged during his career to have performed in George Balanchine’s finest works, including Allegro BrillanteApollo,ChaconneThe NutcrackerDiamonds from JewelsDivertimento No. 15A Midsummer Night’s DreamMozartianaSerenade,Slaughter on Tenth AvenueSwan LakeTschaikovsky Pas de DeuxTschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2Western Symphony, and Who Cares? Neal was featured in Jerome Robbins’ BrandenburgDances at a GatheringThe Four SeasonsGlass PiecesThe Goldberg VariationsI’m Old Fashioned, and In G Major. Other choreographic works he has performed are Jerome Robbins’ and Twyla Tharp’s Brahms/Handel; Peter Martins’ Fearful SymmetriesLes GentilhommesThe Sleeping Beauty (Prince Désiré)Songs of the Auvergne, and The Waltz Project; Ulysses Dove’s Red Angels; Boris Eifman’s Musagéte; and Richard Tanner’s Ancient Airs and Dances.

In 2002, Neal appeared in the nationally televised Live From Lincoln Center broadcast “New York City Ballet’s Diamond Project: Ten Years of New Choreography” on PBS, dancing in Ancient Airs and Dances. In May of 2004 he appeared in the Live From Lincoln Center broadcast of “Lincoln Center Celebrates Balanchine 100,” dancing in Liebeslieder Walzer.

Neal performed with New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater, at their summer venue at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and on tour in Athens, Melbourne, Copenhagen, London, Paris, and Tokyo. He was honored to have been an invited guest performer with the Kirov Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia, at the famed Mariinsky Theater, as well as with the Paris Opera Ballet at the Garnier Palace.

Dancer Spotlight: Nathan Chaney

Ballet San Jose sits down with our newest company member, principal dancer Nathan Chaney. This season is Nathan’s first with Ballet San Jose. In this interview, Nathan speaks about his dance background, what inspires him, his advice for aspiring professionals, and his views about dancing with Ballet San Jose.

Nathan Chaney is Ballet San Jose's newest Principal Dancer. See him perform May 9-11 in Masterworks of Movement and Theatre

Nathan Chaney is Ballet San Jose’s newest Principal Dancer. See him perform next May 9-11, 2014 in Masterworks of Movement and Theatre.

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Review Roundup: Ballet San Jose’s Neoclassical to Now

Ballet San Jose Company members Alexsandra Meijer and Joshua Seibel in Jorma Elo’s Glow-Stop. Photo by Alejandro Gomez.

Ballet San Jose Company members Alexsandra Meijer and Joshua Seibel in Jorma Elo’s Glow-Stop. Photo by Alejandro Gomez.

This past weekend, Ballet San Jose presented Neoclassical to Now, the first program of our 2014 Repertory Season, and the reviews are in! We are already starting to prepare for our quickly approaching second program, but we thought we would take a moment to reflect on the successes that just took place on the stage. Take a look at what our reviewers said about Serenade, Glow-Stop, and Minus 16, as well as our new Artistic Director José Manuel Carreño.

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Ohad Naharin, choreographer of Minus 16

Neoclassical to Now opens in one week on Friday, February 14. This program offers a wide range of styles, from Neoclassical Serenade choreographed by George Balanchine, to Jorma Elo’s contemporary Glow-Stop. Also featured in this program is the company premiere of Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16. Each work differs dramatically from the others, and Ballet San Jose’s dancers have to quickly adapt and move from one style to the next.

Transitioning into Minus 16, the dancers remove their pointe shoes and take on a very different style of dancing called Gaga. Pioneered by Ohad Naharin, Gaga is a “movement language” emphasizing sensation and pleasure in movement. This particular style of dance is very popular in Israel, especially in Tel Aviv, and it is the main style of dance taught at Batsheva Dance Company where Naharin is artistic director. Through Gaga, our dancers are learning and discovering new ways of moving, and according to Danielle Agami, assistant to the choreographer and one of the stagers for Ballet San Jose’s performance, “some of them are beginning to understand Gaga. They have to break down the habits that have been ingrained through years of classical ballet training.”

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Media Roundup: Ballet San Jose 2013 Gala

In less than two weeks, Ballet San Jose will host its 2013 Gala in celebration of new Artistic Director José Manuel Carreño and will feature guest artists from American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and more. Our excitement is growing by the day, and so are our media mentions! Take a look below to see who else is getting hyped up for our event.

To buy tickets and to find out more about this year’s Gala, visit our Gala homepage at balletsj.org/gala.html.

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Ballet San Jose at the Napa Valley Festival del Sole Dance Gala, July 19

From Ballet San Jose Music director George Daugherty:

The Dede Wilsey Dance Gala at the Napa Valley Festival del Sole is going to be an INCREDIBLE evening on July 19. Here is the official program and casting. Extraordinary dancers will wow you, the fabulous musicians of the Russian National Orchestra will fill the air with music from the orchestra pit, a long-lost Fokine ballet will come back to the stage, a collection of breathtaking pas de deux and ballets will thrill and move you, and the rolling hills of Napa at sunset in the summertime will enchant you as you hold a perfect glass of locally-produced Napa wine. What more could you want? Please join us!

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Merce Cunningham’s “Duets”: Rehearsal Process with Patricia Lent, Merce Cunningham Trust

Master Choreographer Merce Cunningham. Photo by Annie Leibovitz.

Seminal choreographer Merce Cunningham. Photo by Annie Leibovitz.

Contributed by Harriet McMeekin, Ballet San Jose corps de ballet

 

The rehearsal process we’ve experienced so far is vastly different from our normal rehearsals at Ballet San Jose: no music. Silence. Sing-song rhythms echoing in the studio. We eventually graduate to the soft beep of a stopwatch. “And begin,” then gradually “stop,” and “cue.”

“Not bad, only 15 seconds slow,” she says.

It’s a process that’s taken getting used to but has bolstered my confidence in my inner rhythm. I am better able to connect and communicate with my partner and fellow dancers without words. This is critical, as we don’t know what music we’re performing to until we get onstage.

Ms. Lent gave us a little history about the Cunningham ideology, but Wikipedia sums it up neatly:

The most famous and controversial of these [radical innovations] concerned the relationship between dance and music, which [Merce Cunningham and John Cage] concluded may occur in the same time and space, but should be created independently of one another.

Initially the Cunningham/Cage concept of separation between choreography and music seemed sacrilegious. How do you choreograph if you’re not inspired by the music? How do you dance the steps if the music doesn’t tell you what to do? Typically, the music is the primary focus of classical ballet. You might learn the steps to start, and there might not be music at first, but the ultimate goal is to dance “with” the music. The Cunningham ideology requires getting used to a different style and method of working. Holding the music in different regard. Not relegating it but respecting it as its own separate entity.

The dance happens onstage. The music happens while the dance is happening. It’s their occurrence in time that binds them together.

 

See Ballet San Jose perform “Duets,” along with works by innovative choreographers Jorma Elo and Jessica Lang, beginning this Friday, April 19, at the San Jose Center for Performing Arts downtown. Buy tickets online at www.balletsj.org, or call our Box Office at (408) 288-2800. See you at the theater!

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Neoclassical Master: Works by Sir Frederick Ashton in Ballet San Jose’s 2013 Season

Rudy Candia and Alexsandra Meijer in Sir Frederick Ashton's "Méditation from Thaïs." Photo by Robert Shomler.

Rudy Candia and Alexsandra Meijer in Sir Frederick Ashton’s “Méditation from Thaïs.” Photo by Robert Shomler.

One week from today, Ballet San Jose’s 2013 Season will continue with our mixed repertory program, Neoclassical Masters. We’re especially thrilled to be performing two incredible ballets by legendary ballet choreographer Sir Frederick AshtonLes Rendezvous, a suite of witty, light-hearted dances set in a park; and Méditation from Thaïs, a rich and poetic pas de deux set to the beautiful violin solo “Méditation” from Massenet’s opera Thaïs.

The stagers of these incredible works–former Royal Ballet soloist Hilary Cartwright (Les Rendezvous) and former RB principal Bruce Sansom (Méditation from Thaïs)–shared their thoughts about Ashton’s choreography for our Playbill, and we want to give you a sneak peek! Read on for some interesting insights to the pieces, and don’t miss seeing them performed for the first time on the CPA stage next weekend.

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Artist Spotlight: Ballet San Jose Dancer Annali Rose

Ballet San Jose dancer Annali Rose

Ballet San Jose corps member Annali Rose

After the dazzling company premiere of Don Quixote, Ballet San Jose is gearing up for an awesome mixed repertory program in March. In preparation for Program Two, we caught up with Annali Rose (one of our new corps de ballet dancers this season) to discuss her dance history with Sacramento Ballet and Trey McIntyre Project, the academic interests she pursues in her free time, and the three words that best describe her (which she answered with a little help from her friends)!

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Review Roundup: Ballet San Jose’s “Don Quixote”

Ballet San Jose Soloist Junna Ige as Kitri. Photo by Robert Shomler.

Ballet San Jose Soloist Junna Ige as Kitri. Photo by Robert Shomler.

Ballet San Jose’s company premiere of Don Quixote may be over, but the reviews are rolling in! We had such a wonderful run last weekend of ballet’s original romantic comedy that even now we can still hardly believe it’s over! Take a look at what some of the critics around the Bay Area have said about this production of Don Quixote (staged by Ballet SJ Artistic Advisor Wes Chapman), our special guest artist José Manuel Carreño, and our fantastic company.

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