Schimmel Center Presents
The Return Engagement Of
Gelsey Kirkland Ballet’s
Gelsey Kirkland And Michael Chernov
December 11—21, 2014
For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit http://schimmel.pace.edu/ or call toll-free (866) 811-4111 or calling the box office at (212) 346-1715.
Schimmel Center at Pace University is proud to host the return engagement of Gelsey Kirkland Ballet’s production of the perennial holiday classic The Nutcracker. Due to the success of the production’s debut last season at Schimmel Center, this year’s production of The Nutcracker will be performed over the course of a special two-week engagement, running December 11–21. This 30-member company, under the artistic direction of Gelsey Kirkland and Michael Chernov, is comprised of nineteen dancers and eleven apprentices, and is based in Lower Manhattan.
The Nutcracker, composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, is the richly symbolic story about a young girl’s journey through fear and darkness to the light of love. The Nutcracker is one of the most popular stories in the canon of classical ballet. Marie’s transformation from child to princess begins with an unlikely gift from her godfather at a Christmas Eve party; an ugly doll that cracks nuts. Follow Marie’s journey as she is menaced by dancing rats and ultimately rescued by the Nutcracker who leads her up the Christmas tree into the land of snow and beyond…into his kingdom. In the version presented by Gelsey Kirkland Ballet and Michael Chernov, Marie is an active participant in this dream, dancing the famous pas de deux with her Prince rather than observing her escort dance with the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Featuring original choreography by Co-Artistic Director Michael Chernov and assisted by Ms. Kirkland and Alexandra Lawler, this debut will showcase the talents of the company which consists of dancers from all over the world, including Brazil, Israel, and Japan. The Nutcracker will also feature a 70-member ensemble comprised of graduates and trainees of the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet.
The narrative is set against a Romantic backdrop of original sets including one re-made from a baroque theater that was part of a trove Gelsey Kirkland Ballet purchased at auction from New York City Opera in 2012. This purchase brought more than 1,000 costumes and five full sets to a GKA owned warehouse in East Orange, New Jersey.
One of the most celebrated prima ballerinas this country has produced, Gelsey Kirkland writes, “Each time I come back to The Nutcracker, I find more layers of meaning in the symbolic rite of passage of the child who journeys through some of life’s dangers and finds her special Prince.” At the age of twenty-five, Kirkland danced the lead role with Mikhail Baryshnikov in the American Ballet Theater production of The Nutcracker, which was filmed and became an annual holiday broadcast on PBS.
“I remember what a challenge it was for me to match my remarkable Russian partner in that production. It was my own rite of passage for me to understand how much work was involved in creating that kind of performance. And now I am blessed to be able to help the young dancers in our production of The Nutcracker, as they struggle to create that kind of beauty – which only comes from searching for the truth of each moment of the ballet, searching for the meaning and magic of the story. In a way, it is my gift to pass on to them what I learned, and their gift to share with our audience.” Gelsey Kirkland’s commitment to reviving the art of dramatic storytelling through ballet, combined with the enduring values of the original artistic piece, make Gelsey Kirkland Ballet’s The Nutcracker a must see for all lovers of ballet this season. This production is sponsored by Gaynor Minden.
Tickets for Gelsey Kirkland Ballet’s The Nutcracker at Schimmel Center at Pace University range from $39 to $59. The performance schedule is as follows: Thursday—Friday at 7:30pm; Saturday at 2pm & 7:30pm; and Sunday at 2pm. Student tickets are also available for $10 with proof of valid student ID; student tickets will be limited to two per valid student ID and must be purchased in-person at the Schimmel Center box office.
GELSEY KIRKLAND BALLET
Founded in 2010 by Artistic Directors Gelsey Kirkland & Michael Chernov, the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet’s mission is to foster a rebirth of dramatic storytelling in ballet through our academy programs that provide specialized training for gifted students from around the world, and through the development of the Gelsey Kirkland Ballet, a classically oriented Professional Studio Company capable of creating and performing new and dramatic works. Located on Broadway in downtown New York City, Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet (GKA) endeavors to provide the most innovative and comprehensive ballet training programs in the world, recognizing the need for new methods of instruction to cultivate and inspire the next generation of ballet dancers. Through an elite training program aimed at the full cultural development of the young artist, GKA has built a uniquely focused curriculum led by some of the ballet world’s most acclaimed master teachers. GKA’s curriculum is rooted in European tradition with influences from both the Vaganova and Bournonville styles of ballet training. The GKA training system is built around three major areas of study: ballet, core dynamics, and dramatic development. It integrates technique, style, mime, acting, character dancing, and historical dance, with a commitment to develop classical dancers with the ability to advance the art form of classical ballet, and who are capable of expressing powerful theatrical ideas in ballet through a rich understanding of multiple artistic disciplines, cultures, and traditions. Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet consists of the Gelsey Kirkland Ballet, a professional Studio Company and four academy programs: a Full Day Professional Training Conservatory Program, a Pre-Professional After-School Program, a Children’s Recreational Program and a Summer Intensive. GKA’s programs provide year round full-time ballet training and serve over 500 students annually.
MICHAEL CHERNOV (Choreographer/Co-Artistic Director) received his early ballet and theatre training at the National Theater Drama and Ballet School in Melbourne, Australia. He has performed with classical ballet companies in Australia and Europe. From 1987 to 1994 Mr. Chernov worked as an actor performing Off–Broadway and in regional theatre with the Hartford Stage Company and the Alonso Theatre Company in plays by Sophocles, Shakespeare, Shaw, and Coward, working under the direction of Tony Award winning directors Vivian Matalon and Brian Murray. In 1992 he studied theatre directing at T. Schreiber Studios in New York and has directed plays by Anton Chekov and Horton Foote, including directing the actor Leonid Satinovsky from Russia’s prestigious Moscow Arts Theatre in Chekov’s The Bear. In 2003 Mr. Chernov received his Graduate Ballet Teacher’s Diploma (Vaganova Method) at the Victorian College of the Arts, and in 2006 completed a Master of Arts Administration at the University RMIT, Melbourne Australia. He taught classical ballet at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2004 and 2005, and at Danceworld in Melbourne, Australia where he was co-director of the ballet program with his wife Gelsey Kirkland. He has taught at Steps on Broadway, Peridance Studios, and Ballet Hispanico in New York and in summer programs throughout the U.S. From 2006-2007 Mr. Chernov worked in collaboration with Gelsey Kirkland and Kevin McKenzie on the staging and choreography for The Sleeping Beauty at American Ballet Theatre. In 2010, Ms. Kirkland and Mr. Chernov founded Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet, and in 2013 they founded the Gelsey Kirkland Ballet Studio Company. Mr. Chernov staged and choreographed The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty for Gelsey Kirkland Ballet and is currently choreographing a new ballet, entitled Stealing Time set to music by Kurt Weill.
GELSEY KIRKLAND (Co-Artistic Director) received her early training at the School of American Ballet, gaining early stage experience dancing children’s roles in Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Harlequinade. She graduated to the New York City Ballet in 1968, was promoted to soloist in 1970, and principal dancer in 1972. Her desire to master roles in full-length works coincided with Baryshnikov’s defection and invitation to dance with him at American Ballet Theatre, which she joined in 1974 as principal dancer. Teachers most influential in her development as a classical artist include Stanley Williams, Maggie Black, David Howard, actress and mime Pilar Garcia and dramaturge Greg Lawrence. Ms. Kirkland received worldwide acclaim for her performances in the classical repertory: the title role in Giselle, “Kitri” in Don Quixote, “Clara” in The Nutcracker, “Swanhilda” in Coppélia, “Aurora” in The Sleeping Beauty, “Juliet” in Romeo and Juliet, “the sylph” in La Sylphide, “Lise” in La Fille Mal Gardée, “Odette/Odile” in Swan Lake, “Nikiya” in The Kingdom of the Shades, “the Mazurka” and pas de deux in Les Sylphides, and “the sleepwalker” in La Sonnambula. Major choreographers have been inspired to create new works for her; namely, a production of Firebird by George Balanchine when she was seventeen, several ballets by Jerome Robbins, and Antony Tudor’s The Leaves are Fading and The Tiller in the Fields. Ms. Kirkland’s guest appearances with leading companies are notably the critically acclaimed performances of The Sleeping Beauty and MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet with The Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, and in Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet with The Stuttgart Ballet. On the occasion of Queen Elizabeth’s 60th Birthday Gala at Covent Garden, she performed the balcony pas de deux with Anthony Dowell. Her appearances on American and British television include Live from Lincoln Center and the film version of Baryshnikov’s The Nutcracker. Retirement from the stage in 1986 marked Ms. Kirkland’s transition into teaching and coaching in institutions such as American Ballet Theatre, The Royal Ballet School, English National Ballet, and The Australian Ballet. In the 1990’s she was Professor of Dance at Adelphi University in New York. Gelsey Kirkland and Greg Lawrence are the authors of her first autobiography Dancing on my Grave published in 1986, her second autobiography titled The Shape of Love published in 1990, and a children’s book called The Little Ballerina and Her Dancing Horse published in 1993. In 2002-2005 she taught at the Victorian College of the Arts and was director of the ballet program at Danceworld 301. Ms. Kirkland studied the Vaganova Method under Robert Ray at the Victorian College of the Arts. She continued intensive teacher training under Nina Osipyan. In 2006 -2008 she collaborated with Kevin McKenzie and Michael Chernov in the staging and additional choreography for The Sleeping Beauty for American Ballet Theatre, as well as appearing as the “Fairy Carabosse” in that production. In 2010, Ms. Kirkland and Mr. Chernov founded Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet, and in 2013, they founded the Gelsey Kirkland Ballet Studio Company.