July/August 2014
Alumni Newsletter
Summer Edition

PBS Alumna Casey Lee Thorne
Photo credit: Narinder Dogra 

As George Gershwin wrote, "Summertime, and the livin' is easy..." except if you are a serious dance student! Our Summer Intensive is filled with 105 dancers glistening away in the studios, perfecting technique, learning new choreography, and making new friends.
 

Summer is also a time for family reunions, and we are so pleased to welcome "home" alumnae Unity Phelan and Becky Chaleff who worked with this year's SI students (see more below). Don't be strangers- keep in touch, drop by, attend a performance or take a class-- we love to stay in touch with "family."

 

Please contact me at any time with updates about your life, and to share your Princeton Ballet School and American Repertory Ballet memories. We take great pride in the successes, both professional and personal, of those that have studied and worked here and hope that you are equally as proud of the work we continue to share with future generations and audiences.   

 

Please send updates to lderavel@arballet.org.    

Sincerely, 

 


Lisa de Ravel 
Alumni Relations Coordinator

In This Issue
Your Support Means Everything to Us!
Photo credit: Sherrie Kaler
Because of your support, year after year, American Repertory Ballet is able to produce some of the most innovative and highest quality dance productions in New Jersey. 

Because you give, Princeton Ballet School continues to provide the best dance education to NJ residents and grant scholarships to hard-working students.

 Because of your generosity, our Access & Enrichment programs continue to bring the joy of dance to communities across the state who would never experience it otherwise. 

You can help us keep going! Keep our dancers dancing! Make a donation, and support your family of dance! 

  Make a donation today!


Summer Intensive Hosts PBS Alumnae Guest Teachers 
Unity Phelan 
Unity Phelan in Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3. 
Photo credit: Paul Kolnik
Unity Phelan studied at Princeton Ballet School from 2000 to 2009. In 2012, she became an apprentice of New York City Ballet, and joined the company as a member of the corps de ballet the following year. Earlier this year, she was named one of New York City Ballet's Up-and-Coming Women by Dance Magazine. Unity will be teaching both technique and variations classes, and will be giving the students a taste of Balanchine technique.  
Becky Chaleff 
Becky Chaleff in "Energizer" with Molissa Fenley and Company 
Photo credit: Ian Douglas

Becky Chaleff trained at Princeton Ballet School from 1991-1998. She studied at Barnard College and then at the Merce Cunningham studio in downtown Manhattan. She is currently a PhD candidate in the department of Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford University, and dances with two companies, GERALDCASELDANCE and Molissa Fenley and Company. Chaleff will be teaching modern classes in Cunningham technique.  

 

Alumni in the Spotlight: Casey Lee Thorne 
Photo credit: Leonardo Ferri
 
Casey Lee Thorne, Founder and Artistic Director of Marin -based company Inside Out Contemporary Ballet (IOCB), has been awarded a Fulbright Student Scholarship to Israel for the 2014-2015 academic year. Over the course of ten months, Thorne will be completing a community-inspired outreach project for IOCB entitled If I Were You - Project Israel, to be performed in the San Francisco Bay area in the spring of 2016. 
 
If I Were You is a long-term international outreach project that enlists the personal experiences and voices of global citizens to illuminate how dance can connect us to our shared humanity. Throughout the Fulbright grant period, Thorne will be conducting a series of free community outreach workshops and engaging in daily dance practice in order to gather written reflections from Israeli citizens about what dancing connects them to. 
 
Upon her return to the U.S. in the summer of 2015, Thorne will use these written reflections to craft a large-scale set design 
with collaborator Lisa Boling Holloway, while also using the reflections as the primary source of inspiration for all choreographic material. Thorne will also work with composer Ben Juodvalkis to craft an original score for the new piece. The Israel iteration of this project will culminate in the spring of 2016, when IOCB will perform the new evening-length ballet throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Thorne anticipates that this new piece will challenge - and simultaneously affirm - IOCB's belief that dance exposes what is most personal, as well as that which is most universal. Not only will the performances of If I Were You - Project Israel showcase IOCB's first international community outreach project; they will be of global significance, for they will set the platform for mutual understanding between the people of the United States and Israel.  

For more information, please visit www.insideoutballet.org.
Casey Lee Thorne: Reflecting on my time at PBS

During my time at PBS, from 2002-2006, I was fully immersed in a top-notch comprehensive dance education. Not only did I receive impeccable training in ballet technique, pointe, modern technique, partnering, and dance history, I experienced what it really means to be a professional dancer, working with others in rehearsals through serious physical and emotional challenges in an effort to offer something beautiful to the world. The sheer desire that I had as a young student to get things right, to feel the freedom that ballet offers through self expression, motivated me to push on through blisters, tears, and injury. But I could not have pushed through without the discipline and guidance that my teachers instilled in me at PBS. 

 

Now that I have started my own company, I realize that the only reason I know anything about how to run a dance company is because I've been a part of professionally produced shows since I was a student at PBS. I got to dance in Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Nutcracker,Swan Lake, and the lead role in Copp´┐Żlia. What a huge blessing! Because of my experience in these PBS productions, not only do I know what rehearsing for a show is all about, but I also know about costuming, hair, makeup, set designs, lighting, music, and the importance of tech. I also understand that you have to not only sell tickets but you have to fundraise, have galas, print programs, update your website, sell merchandise, and recruit volunteers, all of which require social graces and a healthy outlook on life, something else that dance education has taught me. Since I have been around this all my life, I was more equipped to start a dance company than I was aware of. PBS is an incredible organization that prepared me for a professional career in dance in ways that I continue to be grateful for.

 

I am eternally grateful to Maria Youskevitch for setting the bar high for us. She wouldn't say it was good unless it was. Thank you for your integrity. I fondly remember your t-shirt that read "Only my cat understands me," and how you taught Laura Fuchs and I to dance the Big Swans. Mary Barton and Douglas Martin were like parents to me. They taught me how to enjoy ballet while giving me custom corrections for my unique body and disposition. Douglas taught me how to partner, even though I was too tall for all the guys. And Mary and Douglas helped me choreograph a solo for my Juilliard audition that I remember to this day. Lisa de Ravel taught me about work ethic, and what it looked like to apply corrections in class. Students need role models. You all gave me something to aspire to.

 

I also would have never ended up in California if it were not for Douglas Martin telling me that tall dancers were accepted at Alonzo King LINES Ballet. I found a home there as a dancer and as an individual that has shaped my life forever. I will never forget the value of your advice.

 

The Alonzo King LINES Ballet B.F.A. program at Dominican University was comprised of top-notch talented individuals who were also exquisite human beings, eager to learn and share and better themselves through the art of dance. As a member of the pioneer class I was told, for the first time in my life, that I was an artist, a creator, and had a unique voice that could be honed beyond classical ballet technique. My four years in this program continued my evolution as a contemporary dance artist beyond PBS by offering a laboratory in which to explore my deepest self. The faculty nurtured my soul and helped me give shape to my own individual expression, while also deepening my understanding of ballet as a science of movement. This program turned me into a confident dance artist, and a choreographer with a message. 

 

The past four years of professional performance experience, teaching, and choreographing, has been rewarding. I continue to stay in touch with several of my PBS peers. My time in the PTP program gave me lifelong friends and shared memories that bind us forever. As I look forward to my Fulbright year, I give thanks to all who have been a part of my journey, and I dedicate this project to you.  

 

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