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“The Nutcracker” Takes South Carolina Stages This Holiday Season

"The Nutcracker" ballet is a holiday tradition for many families around the world. South Carolina arts groups are producing opportunities for experiencing this classic story in all parts of the state. Ballet Spartanburg, December 11-13 at Converse College in Spartanburg Carolina Ballet Theatre, December 4-6 at the Peace Center for the Performing Arts in Greenville Charleston Ballet Theatre Center for Dance Education, December 11-13 at the Sottile Theatre in Charleston Coastal Youth Ballet Theatre, December 12-13 & 19-20 at Coastal Carolina University in Conway Columbia City Ballet, December 12-13 & 19-20 at the Koger Center for the Arts in Columbia Columbia Classical Ballet, December 4-6 at the Koger Center for the Arts in Columbia Foothills Conservatory for the Performing Arts, December 12-13 at the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts in Clemson Greenville Ballet, December 19 at Furman University in Greenville International Ballet, December 12-13 at the Peace Center for the Performing Arts in Greenville Orangeburg Civic Ballet, December 12-13 at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg York County Ballet, December 17-20 at Winthrop University in Rock Hill

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 opens new season with ballet masterpiece

The first performance of the Columbia Classical Ballet season, Don Quixote, will showcase the company’s many dancers from around the world in a ballet that calls for exquisite dance technique and superb acting to tell a story full of love and laughter. The performance is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11 at the Koger Center. This will be the first time the Classical Ballet has staged Don Quixote, which was created by Marius Petipa, the choreographer also behind Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. By doing both Don Quixote and the season-closing Sleeping Beauty – another first for the Classical Ballet - the company is taking on two large, demanding classical ballets that reveal the great strides the company has made recently. “You don’t do these ballets unless you have dancers with the ability to do them well,” said Radenko Pavlovich, Classical Ballet artistic director. “We didn’t want to do these until we had built a large and solid company. We want to give Columbia first-rate dance, and we don’t underestimate the audience’s knowledge and appreciation of good dance.” The Classical Ballet has 53 well-trained dancers from around the world – up from about 35 last season. The dancers from Canada, Europe, the Caribbean, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and throughout the U.S. have trained at top schools, and many are medalists at international ballet competitions. The roles of Kitri and Basiolio will be danced by two award-winning dancers new to the company - Sakura Oka and Kota Fujishima, both natives of Japan. Fujishima won the silver medal in the senior male division of the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition held in New York in July and followed that with a gold medal in the All Japan Ballet Competition. Oka won the American Dance Competition Grand Prix Prize in 2013, the silver at the Valentina Kozlova competition in 2013 and silver in the Japan Grand Prix in 2012. Matthew Waters, who is from South Carolina and in his fifth season with the company, will perform the title role. Zoltan Boros, a native of Hungary also in his fifth season, will fill the role of Gamache. The ballet, with music by Ludwig Minkus (Le Bayadere and La Source), premiered in 1869, and the choreography was refined and revised in 1902 by Alexander Gorsky. “We’ll of course be true to the original choreography and music, but dancers today can do so much more than dancers could 100 years ago,” Pavlovich said. For season subscriptions, starting at only $130, contact the Classical Ballet at (803) 252-9112 or email columbiaclassica@bellsouth.net. Individual tickets are available through Capitol Tickets or by calling (803) 251-2222. For more information visit http://www.columbiaclassicalballet.org. Via: Columbia Classical Ballet

Columbia Classical Ballet introduces largest company ever during Cabaret Night

The Columbia Classical Ballet launches its new season with a stellar lineup of performances and its largest and most international company ever. Come meet the dancers, other dance lovers and enjoy food and drink at the company’s annual Cabaret Night Sunday on Sept. 15 from 6 - 8:30 p.m. at 701 Whaley St. Cabaret Night is a fun, informal way to meet company members while enjoying refreshments and raising money for the Columbia Classical Ballet. Dancers will perform several pieces based on tunes from popular musicals. This year the company is the largest ever with 53 dancers, including 15 from Japan, several from South Korea and Taiwan, and others from throughout Europe, the U.S. and Canada. “We’ve brought together dancers from all over the world and have selected works that will show just how talented they are,” said Radenko Pavlovich, artistic director. "The company has gained a reputation as a great place for young dancers who can make a mark on the dance world.” Those attending will be asked to make donations to the company’s Pointe Shoe Fund and Sponsor A Dancer program. Artists and crafts will be for sale, the proceeds of which will help support the ballet company. The season includes Don Quixote, Oct. 11; The Nutcracker, Dec. 6 – 8; LifeChance International Ballet Gala of the Stars, Jan. 25; and Sleeping Beauty, Feb. 28. Tickets to Cabaret Night are $45 or $400 for a table seating 10. For tickets, contact the ballet at (803) 252-9112 or email columbiaclassicaballet@bellsouth.net. Season subscriptions, starting at $130, can be purchased during Cabaret Night or by contacting the ballet. Individual tickets for season performances will be available through Capitol Tickets or by calling (803) 251-2222. For more information visit the Columbia Classical Ballet 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.

Classical Ballet’s Swan Lake emerging for Spring

Last season the Columbia Classical Ballet Company mounted the first full staging of Swan Lake that had graced Columbia stages in two decades. The production was a critical and commercial hit, breaking attendance records for the Classical Ballet. On March 1 the company will once again present this amazing and magical masterpiece of ballet. Classical Ballet Artistic Director Radenko Pavlovich had long dreamed of bringing Swan Lake to life on a Columbia stage. More than a decade ago he purchased feathers for the costumes, but only last year did he feel it was the right time to dig them out of the attic. “This is such an important work – such a masterpiece – that one shouldn’t tackle it until all the correct pieces are in place,” Pavlovich said. “We had that last season and have it again.” The romantic ballet tells the story of Princess Odette, who has been transformed into a swan by an evil magician. During a temporary transformation back into human form, Odette and Prince Siegfried fall in love. Such a true, lasting and faithful love is the only way Odette can be freed from the spell, but the magician has other plans. He sends his daughter Odile (the “Black Swan”) to a masked ball where she tricks the prince into declaring his love for her thus condemning Odette. In this production the roles of the white swan and the black swan will be performed by two dancers, an approach taken in some of the very first stagings of the ballet in 1890s. Principal dancer Lauren Frere, in her fifth season with the company, will take the role of Odette, with new company member Nana Yamatani dancing Odile. “Lauren is the ideal white swan; she is such a refined dancer with long lines,” Pavlovich said. “Nana has amazing technical skills, but she also has a fire and aggression.” The prince will be danced by another new company member. Tae Seok Kim. “He’s very noble,” Pavlovich said. “When he steps on the stage you know he’s a prince.” Frere, who performed both roles in last season’s production, has danced many major roles with the Classical Ballet and the Sarasota Ballet including Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, Ashton’s The Two Pigeons, Robert de Warren’s Coppelia, Firebird, Don Quixote, Giselle, Le Corsaire and Rick McCullough’s Le Sacre du Printemps. A native of Houston, Texas, she studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Yamatani began her dance training at the age of 3 in her native Japan and came to the U.S. to study at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington D.C. She has won First Place Award at the Youth America Grand Prix in Japan and the bronze medal at the World Ballet Competition in Orlando, Fl. Kim, a native of South Korea, has been a finalist in the Beijing International Ballet Competition, Boston International Ballet Competition and Varna International Ballet Competition. Swan Lake will be performed March 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Koger Center for the Arts in Columbia. Individual tickets are $5 to $32 and are available by calling (803) 251-2222 or going to http://www.capitoltickets.com/ Via: Columbia Classical Ballet Company

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