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South Carolina’s Brooklyn Mack breaks racial barrier

From The Free Times: Image: From the Washington Post - Brooklyn Mack in Giselle

South Carolina’s dance sensation Brooklyn Mack, who got his start with the Columbia Classical Ballet, is partnering with famous American Ballet Theatre ballerina Misty Copeland in the Washington Ballet’s first production of Swan Lake, The Washington Post reported. The Post called Copeland's appearance with the Washington Ballet "a coup of historic proportions." Mack and Copeland have the leading roles as principal dancers in the story. Both Mack and Copeland are stars in the ballet world, known for their strong and bold charisma on stage, and both are African-American. Putting two African-American lead roles in a typically “white” production like Swan Lake represents the breaking down of barriers on the stage. This will be the first full-length production of Swan Lake in the Washington Ballet’s 70- year history. Click here for the full Washington Post article.

New dancers and local favorite featured in Columbia Classical Ballet’s LifeChance

The Columbia Classical Ballet’s annual LifeChance gala performance is always a high point of the dance season, featuring guest artists with top companies from around the nation and company dancers performing classical and contemporary works. LifeChance takes place Saturday, Jan. 25, at 7:30 p.m. at the Koger Center. This year, for the first time, the Classical Ballet welcomes guest dancers from the Joffrey Ballet,  including Dylan Gutierrez, just named “25 to Watch in 2014” by Dance Magazine and Jeraldine Mendoza, the first American woman to graduate with honors from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. Another first-time guest will be Boston Ballet principal dancer Lasha Khozashvili. Returning favorites include Brooklyn Mack of the Washington Ballet, a Columbia native who got his start with the Classical Ballet. At age 12, Mack attended a LifeChance performance and shortly after began studying with Classical Ballet director Radenko Pavlovich. Mack has won silver medals at the Jackson International Ballet Competition, the Helsinki International Ballet Competition and the Korean International Dance Competition, and a gold medal at the 2012 International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. Other favorites returning include Boston Ballet principal dancers and brother and sister Jeffrey and Lia Cirio, and Washington Ballet dancers Tamas Krizsa and Maki Onuk. The company dancers will perform two new works created especially for them, and guest artists and company members will dance together. On the new side, Classical Ballet choreographer Simone Cuttino has created Ursa Major for 14 of the company’s male dancers set to a driving, percussive score that will be premiered at LifeChance. Tickets, $6 to $33, are available online at www.capitoltickets.com or by calling (803) 251-2222. The evening also raises money for a local nonprofit. For more information visit the Columbia Classical Ballet's website. Via: Columbia Classical Ballet

Columbia Classical Ballet dancers take top prizes in international competition

Over the years, Columbia Classical Ballet Artistic Director Radenko Pavlovich has coached Columbia native and Washington (D.C.) Ballet member Brooklyn Mack through international ballet competitions where he took several top prizes. Two of Pavlovich’s other students – Nations Wilkes-Davis, a Classical Ballet company member, and Kota Fuijishima, who will join the company next season, have won top prizes in the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition held in New York June 28-30. Columbia Classical Ballet dancersWilkes-Davis (left in photo) won the second place award in the student division, and Fuijishima (right in photo) won the silver medal in the senior male division. Wilkes-Davis, who is only 14, has been studying with Pavlovich for four years and dances in most of the company’s productions. “We’re putting Columbia on the map with all these wins,” said Pavlovich, who founded the Classical Ballet 22 years ago. “We’ve had remarkable success with Brooklyn winning so many awards, and it’s wonderful to continue training dancers who do so well in these international competitions.” The competition included 100 dancers from 30 countries. As medalists, the two dancers participated in the competition’s closing gala with dancers from several major companies, including the New York City Ballet. The jury included Andris Liepa, People’s Artist of Russia; Oleksi Bessmertni, founder and director of the International Dance Festival TANZOLYMP in Germany; Olga Guardia de Smoak, president of the New Orleans International Ballet Conference and artistic advisor to the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Panama; and Hae Shik Kim, founding dean of the Korean National University of Arts, School of Dance. Brooklyn Mack began training with Pavlovich at 12 and has won the gold medal at the Varna International Ballet Competition, the Grand Prix Award at the Istanbul International Ballet Competition and silver medals in the USA International Ballet Competition, the Helsinki International Ballet Competition and Korean International Dance Competition. The Classical Ballet season starts in September and will include The Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote.

S.C. native takes major dance awards and comes home to perform

Over the summer, Elgin, S.C., native Brooklyn Mack won the gold medal at the Boston International Ballet Competition, the Istanbul Ballet Competition and the International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. Mack, a dancer with the Washington (DC) Ballet, is coming home to dance a lead role in Columbia Classical Ballet’s production of La Bayadere Oct. 12. Mack began his ballet studies with Columbia Classical Ballet’s Artistic Director Radenko Pavlovich. This is the first time Mack will perform a principal role in a full-length ballet with the company. The performance takes place at the Koger Center for the Arts in Columbia. Read Mack's bio and more about his awards. You can also listen to an interview with Brooklyn Mack on NPR. Via: Columbia Classical Ballet Brooklyn Mack