Pennsylvania Ballet's Quarterly Newsletter

Summer 2018 Edition


Now the dancers get a chance to relax a bit, take on guesting gigs, visit their families and homelands and prepare themselves for our fabulous 55th season!  Can’t wait for the fall? Head up to Saratoga NY later this summer to catch Mayara Pineiro’s and Sterling Baca’s performance of the Don Q pas de deux with the Philadelphia Orchestra on August 1st! Our stars will appear on the Orchestra’s opening night, so you’ll also experience Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture along with a spectacular fireworks display! You can still purchase tickets here.

Welcome James Payne!

We are very excited to announce that a new School Director has been appointed! James Payne comes to us from the Houston area where he and his wife have run a successful ballet academy for 17 years.  Originally from Phoenix, James enjoyed an 11-year professional career dancing with Ballet West in Salt Lake City and Houston Ballet where he also served as Company Manager. Mr. Payne will begin his tenure in August.

James K. Payne | Photo: Christopher Jean-Richard

Popular Summer Intensive

Our five-week Summer Intensive program beginning on July 2nd is full, with students from all over the country and abroad. Nearly 240 children will participate!

Students will take classes in ballet, contemporary, modern, character dancing, Pilates and peak performance training.

In addition, we offer the “Company Experience” and the “Young Dancer Workshop” which are unique programs where students learn repertoire and perform on the last day of the session.

Once again, the special program “Coaching with the Principals” is in great demand, where pre-professionals receive private coaching from our dancers each day in addition to their regular classes, culminating in an in-studio performance.

While all three programs offer students a taste of professional life they also give our staff a chance to develop a student’s artistry beyond their technique.

For the little ones there are two special story-themed “Dance Camps” and other classes. Please visit the Summer Programs page for more information.

Students and Faculty of The School of Pennsylvania Ballet | Photo: Tracie Van Auken

Community Engagement

New this summer is a program for students in the Delphi Project from the School District of Philadelphia middle schools, where ninth and tenth graders will be exposed to more serious levels of dance study. This involves classes in our studios taught by local university professors, Pennsylvania Ballet staff, and School District of Philadelphia faculty.

Another collaboration successfully completed this spring was a partnership with the Overbrook School for the Blind. We offered their students tap lessons and the children performed beautifully with our Second Company at a gala event for ArtReach. Learn more here.

Our movement program at Broad Street Ministry is catching on – offering the homeless or those in transition a chance to enjoy a few hours of fun each week!

Students of the Delphi Program | Photo: Vikki Sloviter

Company Promotions

Congratulations to all the dancers who earned promotions this year! Promoted to Soloist: Aleksey Babayev, Albert Gordon, Yuka Iseda, Zecheng Liang, Nayara Lopes, and Jack Thomas. Promoted to Corps de Ballet: Sydney Dolan, Federico D’Ortenzi, and Erin O’Dea. Flavia Morante from Pennsylvania Ballet II was named an Apprentice. To learn more about these dancers, please click here.

Artists of Pennsylvania Ballet | Photo: Alexander Iziliaev

A Dancer’s Summer

In polling our dancers, all agreed that the first thing they would do is rest for about two weeks. Then it will take at least a month to get back into shape and ready for rehearsals to begin on August 20th.

Travel plans include visiting homelands and friends abroad, although some were not able to procure visas to travel home, so they will stay in Philadelphia and teach or take day trips to the beach. A few are pursuing their education at the University of Pennsylvania, studying topics as diverse as biology and foreign affairs.

Soloist Alexandra Hughes and her sister, Erica

A Taste of Romeo

Angel has gotten a jump on next season’s repertoire – this spring, he began teaching parts of Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo & Juliet, which will open next season. This version is well known for its soaring pas de deux and sophisticated storytelling as eloquently explained by the choreographer’s wife, Lady MacMillan, and members of The Royal Ballet in this video.

Romeo was also one of Angel’s most famous roles. Catch a quick glimpse of Angel in this version taped in Milan with the La Scala Ballet.

We can’t reveal our preliminary casting for next season, but rest assured you will be seeing some extraordinary performances!

Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet | Photo: Andrew Ross

A Few Last Things…

Pennsylvania Ballet Day at the Phillies vs. LA Dodgers game

If YOU are around this summer, please join us for Pennsylvania Ballet Day (aka Christmas in July) at the LA Dodgers vs. Phillies game on Wednesday July 25 at 12:35pm.

Watch the Mouse King battle the Phillie Phanatic on the field. A portion of the profit from the game benefits Pennsylvania Ballet. Purchase tickets here.

Double Your Impact

Make a gift to Pennsylvania Ballet by July 31st and it will be FULLY matched!  One of our loyal donors has been so impressed with the spectacular dancing of the Company  – and the leadership of Artistic Director Angel Corella, and Shelly Power, our new Executive Director – that they are matching ALL gifts to the Ballet before the end of the fiscal year.  Make a new gift – or an additional gift – and it will be matched and help support the amazing work of our Company! Donate now to double your support!

Save the Date!

Calling all star-crossed lovers…

Save the Date for our GALA 2018: A Masquerade Ball at The Union League of Philadelphia on October 5, 2018! For more information, click here.

The Phanatic, the Nutcracker, and the Mouse King | Photo: © The Phillies

Farewell to James

In May, we bid farewell to one of Philadelphia’s favorite dancers, the Alan B. Palmer Soloist Dancer James Ihde, who retired after a 25-year career with the Company. It is a bittersweet moment when a beloved loyal dancer retires – sadness at not seeing them on stage any more, excitement in anticipating their next step in life – and true happiness to hear they are not leaving the profession or Philadelphia. Here are a few unedited thoughts directly from James as he steps down – or aside – or UP!

When asked about his unusually long career…

I started working out lifting weights religiously fairly early in my career and I think that helped stave off injuries for a long time. Eventually I did develop a back injury and when it was at its worst I finally tried Pilates at the behest of a friend and between that and yoga I definitely think that I bought myself a few more years of dancing.

Any favorite ballets or roles?

Some of my favorite ballets and roles have been In G Major (Robbins), After the Rain (Wheeldon) for their beautiful pas de deux; Artifact Suite (Forsythe) because it was such a unique onstage experience; Tybalt In Romeo & Juliet (Cranko) because it is so much fun to play a villain; and Petit Mort (Kylián) because it had been a bucket list ballet that I had hoped to get a chance to dance in for years.

When asked if he ever considered leaving Pennsylvania Ballet…

When I was in the earlier stages of my career, probably like everyone does, I questioned whether I should check out other companies if for no other reason than variety and new experience, but I never had a strong enough urge to seriously pursue it. I was also always reticent to leave the network of friends and colleagues that I had developed here in Philadelphia.

What career might you have chosen if you were not a dancer?

I’m not really sure what career I would have chosen if I wasn’t a dancer, but because I love books I do think I would have enjoyed working in something related to the literary world like publishing.

Any hobbies?

I read quite a bit and in a way I guess you could say that’s my hobby. It’s something I really enjoy and I prioritize it quite a bit. It’s difficult to pick a favorite book, but I guess I would have to say that The Catcher in The Rye is. It’s the only book that I go back and reread every few years, and I enjoy it as much or more now than I did the first time I read it in high school.

Any pets?

I adopted a dog a few months ago. Her name is Esmé and I’m 99% certain she’s a pit bull/ Italian greyhound mix, but because she’s a rescue I don’t know for sure.

Future plans?

I have been teaching for a few years already and there will definitely be more teaching in the future, but choreography probably isn’t in the cards for me. I’ll be staying in Philadelphia, because besides just loving the city I really enjoy living in a place with so many people that I know, and I love that some of my relationships here go all the way back to my first year in the Company.

We all wish only the best for James.


James Ihde | Photo: Vikki Sloviter

We hope EVERYONE has a wonderful and relaxing summer!



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