Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Swan Lake Premiere: International Cast and Local Children for Veterans

Gainesville Ballet School     
7522 Old Linton Hall Road
Gainesville, VA 20155

Contact: Elysabeth Muscat

April 15, 2013

GAINESVILLE, Va. – With great excitement, Elysabeth Muscat, the new Managing Director of Gainesville Ballet School is pleased to announce the spring production is the classic story of Swan Lake - a romantic tragedy about a powerful sorcerer, fidelity, transformation, forgiveness and the transcendent quest for eternal love. On Saturday, 25 May 2013 at 5 PM, the dancers will proudly present Act II of Swan Lake at Battlefield High School in Haymarket, Virginia. Tickets for the annual spring performance can be purchased for $20 in advance, with discounts for children under age twelve and seniors. On the evening of the performance, tickets will be available at the door for $25 as cash-only transactions. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Gainesville Ballet School at (703) 753-5005. In honor of Memorial Day, a portion of proceeds from the performance will be donated to our nation's veterans.

The cast includes both pre-professionals and professionals with many stage-seasoned dancers to perform in the debut of Swan Lake in the spring of 2013. For some of the youngest girls, this event is also the first opportunity to dance in a ballet performance and the first moment on stage. About 90 students from public, private and home schools across three counties in Northern Virginia will be among those to dance in the 2013 performance. Some of the public school systems represented by dancers include the counties of Fauquier, Prince William, and Warren with ballerinas from Battlefield High School and many other educational settings. The performance will also reach beyond the state of Virginia to draw upon student and professional talent from Maryland with the counties of Carroll and Anne Arundel.

Three professional dancers of international acclaim will perform alongside the student dancers. Each of the three adult professionals will perform a solo on the night of the production: Evgenia Singur as Odette, Rafik Hegab as Siegfried and Shady Aly as Rothbart. Ms. Singur and Mr. Hegab will also dance together in a pas de deux that portrays the powerful love of the swan queen, Odette, and the prince, Siegfried, and takes the audience through an enchanting journey of music and movement. The eternal juxtaposition of a human form by night and a swan form by day is more than the young prince can bear but as one who has never loved before, he can break the evil spell with the promise of a steadfast heart. In the traditional end to the story, he makes the ultimate sacrifice in one final act of affection by jumping forever with his true love into Swan Lake.

On 6 May 2012, Gainesville Ballet School was honored as Outstanding Arts Organization during the 2012 Seefeldt Awards for Arts Excellence. Each year, the Seefeldt Awards recognize individuals and organizations who have contributed to the strength and success of the local arts. The ceremony was held as part of Arts Alive! 2012 in the Hylton Performing Arts Center with special guest emcees, Bob Madigan of WTOP and Tracee Wilkins of NBC4.

In preparing for Act II of Swan Lake, Ms. Muscat is joined by Rafik Hegab, an internationally-acclaimed dancer, performer and choreographer who is now serving as Artistic Director of the award-winning ballet school. As a team, Ms. Muscat – in vocal arts – and Mr. Hegab – in dance arts – represent a broad background in the performing arts. Each has risen to acclaim within their respective fields of art on regional, national and international stages.

Historically, the Gainesville school has attracted esteemed professionals from out-of-state for its annual performances. Of the lead performers, one will fly across the ocean, from the stages of Egypt where he is currently a soloist with the Cairo Opera Ballet Company to Battlefield High School in Haymarket, Virginia, in support of the arts and wounded veterans in the United States. One of the lead performers will travel across state borders in support of this very special evening at the ballet in the first foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. One has danced on stages across the globe such as China, Lebanon, the Czech Republic, Jordan, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Austria, Spain, India, Greece, and Russia, and then found his home in the arts community of western Prince William County.

Not far from the great pyramids of Egypt in the outskirts of Cairo, Mr. Hegab (Siegfried) received his earliest training in the performing arts from the classical backdrop of the only standing structure of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. He received a diploma from the Higher Institute of Ballet in Giza in 2000, and a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Pedagogy and Choreography from the Academy of Arts in Cairo in 2009. Among his many achievements, he joined the Cairo Opera Ballet Company in 1999, won first place in the Egyptian National Ballet Competition in 2000, and danced as a soloist in 2002. He rose to the ranks of principal dancer in 2004, and embarked on international tours with the company in China, Lebanon, the Czech Republic, Jordan, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Austria, Spain, India, Greece, and Russia. He danced the Matador in Don Quixote with Julio Bocca, John in Zorba the Greek, Ali in Le Corsaire, Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet, Siegfried in Swan Lake, the principal dancer in Carmina Burana, and the Cavalier in The Nutcracker. He has been a guest dancer for the USA Ballet Company (Cavalier in The Nutcracker) and a company member of Baltimore Ballet. Mr. Hegab is also an accomplished choreographer. He was the Assistant Artistic Director, Ballet Master and Choreographer for the Mystic Ballet, where he created The Nutcracker, Moulin Rouge, Under Control, Moon Light, along with many other artistic works. Evgenia Singur (Odette), of Annapolis, Maryland, was a principal dancer for the Russian State Ballet in Moscow, where she performed principal roles in The Nutcracker, Giselle, Coppélia, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Spartacus, and Don Quixote. She toured with the company internationally to Austria, England, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Ireland, Italy, China, Indonesia, Mexico, North Korea, South Korea, United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman), and Spain. Ms. Singur began training as a rhythmic gymnast, then a figure skater, and finally as a ballet dancer from 1993 to 2001 at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and Moscow State Institute of Choreography before joining the Russian State Ballet. She won the 2004 International Dance Festival in Korea, and the Silver Award in the 2002 Dance Europe Magazine Competition. She is in constant demand as a guest dancer throughout the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area. Ms. Singur also serves on the faculty of the Baltimore School for the Arts, a public arts high school located in Baltimore, Maryland.
Mr. Aly (Rothbart) is currently a soloist with the Cairo Opera Ballet Company. He has danced leading roles in both classical and contemporary works such as Don Quixote, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Spartacus, The Rite of Spring, Zorba the Greek, and more. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Dance from the Academy of Arts in Cairo in 2008, and won first prize in the Egyptian National Ballet Competition in 2010.

Music for the production is the original score by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky circa 1875. The story takes its earliest inspiration from Russian folk tales, and was first introduced to patrons of the ballet by the Bolshoi Ballet in 1877 at the Bolshoi Theatre. Choreography for the production is the original dance composition by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, which in itself, represents a revival of the great ballet masters to come before them. Nearly two decades from the first musical debut, the revived interpretation was presented by the Imperial Ballet in 1895 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.

The production by Gainesville Ballet School draws upon many elements of the Petipa-Ivanov version, with a Bolshoi-trained dancer cast in the lead role of Odette. The Artistic Director of Gainesville Ballet School has restaged the 1895 production for the advanced performers. Mr. Hegab has also staged and choreographed the dance sequences for the younger children from the original Swan Lake music.

Highly-trained students from across the region will dance alongside the professional soloists. Two ballerinas at the level of Company Four in Youth Ballet Company will dance as the Big Swans: Sara Massei, age 13, a seventh grader from Auburn Middle School, and Monica Tirado, age 16, a tenth grader from Fauquier High School. In 2008, Sara performed as Clara’s best friend in The Nutcracker at the Kennedy Center with the Pennsylvania Ballet. By 2011, as a sixth grader, she attended the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. for her first intensive three-week summer program. To participate in this elite training, children are selected through competitive auditions held around the globe. In April 2013, she performed in Le Corsaire with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) at the Kennedy Center.

Four ballerinas at the level of Company Four in Youth Ballet Company will dance as the Small Swans: Caroline Beard, age 15, a tenth grader from Kettle Run High School; Emma Dryden, age 14, a ninth grader from Battlefield High School; Isabella Reilly, age 12, a seventh grader from Ronald Wilson Reagan Middle School; and Abigail Mumma, age 15, a tenth grader from Patriot High School. In 2010, Abby danced in Sleeping Beauty at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. with the world-renown Kirov Ballet of Saint Petersburg, Russia, known today as the Mariinsky Ballet. In April 2013, she also performed in Le Corsaire with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) at the Kennedy Center. In December 2012, Abby again danced as a soloist in the coveted role of Sugar Plum Fairy in the children’s version of The Nutcracker at Gainesville Ballet School and had the opportunity to dance for the first time in the pas de deux. This represents a monumental milestone for the talented ballerina to partner with a professional dancer, and reflects the hallmark of achievement in the life of a young dancer.
The corps de ballet derives from the French language and refers to the “body of the ballet” or the dancers in a group. Dancing in the corps de ballet at the level of Company Four are the following ballerinas: Sophie Penn, age 17, a twelfth grader from Brentsville District High School; Gabrielle Reilly, age 17, an eleventh grader from Battlefield High School; Jessica Shalvey, age 16, a tenth grader from Patriot High School; Katya Christhilf, age 14, an eighth grader from Virginia Virtual Academy; Maddie Penn, age 14, an eighth grader from Gainesville Middle School; and Chloe Banachoski, age 13, a seventh grader from Marsteller Middle School. Other dancers at the level of Company Three represent the following: Ronald Wilson Reagan Middle School, Buckland Mills Elementary School, Glenkirk Elementary School, J.W. Alvey Elementary School, Mountain View Elementary School, Wakefield School, and homeschool. Students at the level of Company 1 and Company 2 will also perform, as well as younger children of differing ages and ability. Gainesville Ballet School performs the Nutcracker annually, with 100 dancers in its seventh year of production this past December. The school also brought an inaugural spring production to the performing arts community with A Children’s Coppélia and Class Demonstration in 2012. The children of Gainesville Ballet School will now present Swan Lake for the first time on the stage, as the Youth Ballet Company builds a strong repertory of classical ballets: Nutcracker, Coppélia and Swan Lake.

By its very nature, the arts define the culture of the community. As a tribute, the ballet school will donate a portion of ticket revenue to those who have served bravely in the U.S. Armed Forces. Usually we remember our fallen heroes on Memorial Day, but what if we could also honor those who do return home – with life-altering injuries? The Managing Director of Gainesville Ballet School, Elysabeth Muscat, felt “it would be meaningful for local children performing at Battlefield High School in Haymarket, Virginia to help those who have given so much to answer the call of duty through a program close to home.” Partial proceeds will provide equine-assisted therapy for wounded veterans who travel from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland to participate in the Rainbow Center program in Haymarket, Virginia. The actual cost for services is $225 per hour, but through generous donations from the community, servicemembers have freely participated since the partnership commenced in April 2012. Therapeutic services promote physical fitness objectives and an overall sense of well-being, as students learn the principles of natural horsemanship. To learn more about the programs of Rainbow Center, 4-H Therapeutic Riding Program, Inc., to include therapeutic services for children with special needs and wounded veterans, visit www.rainbowriding.org. The rich visual imagery of the pastoral setting of Rainbow Center along the banks of Silver Lake Regional Park in western Prince William County, and an enchanted Swan Lake from the classic ballet story, are an idyllic backdrop for a community-centered project. This very special initiative for Memorial Day weekend gives the children a rare opportunity to bring an enduring and tangible contribution to society, as part of a performance.
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