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Within moments of listening to Deborah Wingert, Manhattan Youth Ballet‘s Head of Faculty, talk about the school’s upcoming performances and longterm vision, I could tell how incredibly fortunate her students are to have such a gracious and generous mentor. I asked Deborah about the challenges of her post and she enthusiastically explained the two components of her job as she sees them: perfecting classical technique and nurturing a sense of style and drama. Putting the focus on becoming complete artists, or in her own words “triple threats”–a theatrical term referring to those who can do it all–is an unusual gift for the student in a traditional ballet school setting.

Photo by Erin Baiano.

Citing her own background with New York City Ballet, Wingert spoke of how George Balanchine stripped away the overly exaggerated theatricality of dance in order to let the movement speak for itself.  This was a hard concept for her at first, but in time, as her artistry developed, she was able to grasp what he meant. This tradition underlies her focus to let students learn on-the-go through the specific ballets and roles they are dancing. The school is a place where “you can come and do it (dance) at your level, but you must come and do it seriously.”

I look forward to seeing how this inspiring acknowledgement–that serious dance training is not only valuable to the aspiring professional dancer but to all students with drive and determination–plays out in the upcoming student show featuring:

*Jerome Robbins’ Interplay which is being done as a collaboration with students from Ellison Ballet

*the Minuet from George Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15

*a new work by Lar Lubovitch dancer Attila Joey Csiki

*a comedic new work by Marina Stavitskaya

*and a classroom inspired demonstration set to Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations by Deborah Wingert and Natalia Boesch.

Friday through Sunday
Manhattan Music & Art Center
248 W 60th St
New York,NY 10069

Click here for tickets. Sunday’s gala performance will feature guest artists from New York City Ballet, Daniel Ulbricht and Lauren Lovette, American Ballet Theatre’s Nicole Graniero and Lar Lubovitch Dance Company’s Attila Joey Csiki.

Written by Matthew Donnell

Matthew Donnell

A graduate of North Carolina School of the arts, Matthew Donnell is a freelance dancer, actor, clown, instructor, and film maker residing in NYC. After a decade with the Kansas City Ballet, he turned his focus toward musical theater and teaching. He strives to bring the humor of his life into his art in order to promote artistic health for himself and those around him.