Local Dance Companies to Unite for Ballet Showcase

By Mary Hierholzer

In an effort to encourage a deeper understanding of the arts, the Green Street Dance Studios is hosting a series of artistic showcases that will features various Boston-area ballet companies April 21–23 at their home studios in Cambridge. The three performances will include dancing by Boston Ballet II, Island Moving Company, Tony Williams Ballet, Tai Jimenez, SundanceX and a new piece by choreographer Kevin Jenkins.

“The series strives to break past the initial ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ in order to better understand, to more kindly question and responsibly articulate our understanding of dance forms in a way that both acknowledges and respects differences,” Executive Director of Green Street Studios Kat Nasti says of the series entitled “Genre-Specific Shared Concerts at GSS” in an interview with the Boston Dance Journal.

Green Street Dance Studios’ goal is to grow, educate, and cross-pollinate audiences across forms, Nasti says. Having grown up ballet with a lifelong appreciation of the art and its significance in her life, she hopes to share the wide range of forms that ballet takes. The series showcases six–eight regional artists or companies in a concert that focuses on a particular style of dance, then invites a discussion about the breadth of that form.

Nasti selected these six groups because of their unique and versatile approaches to ballet. “Each (company) does something truly special and incredibly generous for the form to exist and continue,” she said.

For this occasion, choreographer Kevin Jenkins created a new piece. With roughly 12 years of experience in contemporary choreography, he found himself intrigued by the vocabulary of classical ballet, and wanted to take a shot at it, all along asking himself, “How can I make this different, and still technically make it ballet?” The result is a “Reverie,” a five-minute neoclassical piece en pointe that will feature two dancers who have worked with the Festival Ballet in Providence, R.I.

 
Abigail Merlis and Graham Johns in George Balanchine's Haieff Divertimento © The George Balanchine Trust; photo by Igor Burlak Photography, courtesy Boston Ballet

Abigail Merlis and Graham Johns in George Balanchine's Haieff Divertimento © The George Balanchine Trust; photo by Igor Burlak Photography, courtesy Boston Ballet

 

He and Nasti are passionate about advancing the Boston dance scene, Jenkins says, and he views the showcase as an opportunity to put on dance at a community level, with excellent quality—a difficult feat. “There’s not a lot going on at the grassroots level where I feel like there’s a lot of room for experimentation, and hopefully still a lot of room for quality,” he says. “It’s hard to find really technically beautiful dancers because at this level there is not a lot of funding. It’s very challenging.”

For the budding professional dancers of BBII, Boston Ballet’s second company, the GSS showcase is an opportunity for exposure. Dancers from the group will perform two pieces: the classical grand pas de deux from The Flames of Paris and “Slice to Sharp” by the company’s resident choreographer, Jorma Elo—a contemporary solo work, which, fascinatingly, was originally choreographed for a New York City Ballet female dancer en pointe then reworked by Elo himself for a male dancer.

“People often think of New York City as the place with good and very diverse dance forms,” says Associate Director of Boston Ballet II Peter Stark. “I feel like that is also a strength here in Boston, and any opportunity we have to highlight that is wonderful. This is so great because of its collaborative nature, working with other dancers in the community, which Boston Ballet doesn’t do often. It’s great that we can be part of the team!”

The Green Street Studios ballet showcase runs April 21 and 22 at 8 p.m. and April 23 at 6 p.m. For tickets, visit Eventbrite.