Is the Colburn Dance Academy Becoming SAB West?

In only two years, the Colburn Dance Academy in Los Angeles has surpassed expectations. Directed by former New York City Ballet stars Jenifer Ringer and James Fayette, the Academy has placed grads, either as trainees or full professionals, into Dance Theatre of Harlem, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Fayette and Ringer have brought in NYCB stars like Wendy Whelan to give master classes. Just last week current NYCB faves Teresa Reichlen and Tyler Angle visited. Benjamin Millepied, director of L.A. Dance Project and an advisor to Colburn, has also been in to teach, as has Peter Boal, director of Pacific Northwest Ballet. Next year, the students will get the rare opportunity to take class with Helgi Tomasson, visionary director of San Francisco Ballet. Millepied, Boal and Tomasson are also former NYCB principals. It's a way to extend what Fayette calls the “NYCB family.”

Colburn is a boutique school with only 12 students ages 14–19, so they get plenty of attention. As I noted two years ago when the Academy was just a gleam in the eyes of Ringer and Fayette, hopes were high. Fayette now says they have exceeded expectations. This video of Reichlen and Angle teaching class gives an idea of the caliber of the school.

 

Will the Colburn Dance Academy become the West Coast branch of the School of American Ballet? Established in 1934 by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, SAB is without a doubt the oldest, most storied, continuously running ballet school in the United States. (Disclosure: I’m an alum, having spent two summers there in the 1960s.) It’s such a cornerstone of American ballet training that Jennifer Dunning wrote a book, But First a School, about its centrality in building a ballet culture in this country. And of course, it was SAB that furnished Balanchine with his amazing dancers.

Now the Academy, which is part of the larger Colburn School, offers excellent Balanchine-style training and mentorship to those who live on the West Coast. Half the students are local, and the other half come from as far away as Georgia and Long Island.

Here’s to taking the legendary SAB training westward.

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Still frrom Shobana Jeyasingh's Contagion, courtesy Sadler's Wells

This Free Online Festival Showcases the Crème de la Crème of the U.K. Dance Scene

As most theaters across the world remain closed, London's contemporary dance hub Sadler's Wells and cultural broadcaster BBC Arts have come together to produce a day-long digital dance festival on January 28.

Dancing Nation will showcase 15 new and beloved works by world-class, U.K.-based companies and choreographers over three hour-long, pre-recorded segments. Highlights will include Akram Khan and Natalia Osipova performing together for the first time in Mud of Sorrow: Touch, a new work inspired by Khan's 2006 duet with Sylvie Guillem; Matthew Bourne's New Adventures' seminal 1988 work Spitfire; and Shobana Jeyasingh's timely restaging of Contagion, which explores the spread of the virus that caused the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918.

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