This is not like any ballet recital. This is one of the world’s most highly-recognized ballet expositions hosted by the School of American Ballet.
Considered a rite of passage by many of the school’s dancers and faculty, the annual Workshop Performances are a stamp of the iconic School of American Ballet. The school is directly affiliated with the New York City Ballet.
This yearly performance dates back to 1965 when the academy hosted its first showcase ever. It has become a tradition ever since and a symbol of hope and hard work for the school’s students more than anything.
This seems to be part of the “magic” of what makes the School of American Ballet’s dancers as talented as they are. They are powerful, dynamic, and detail-oriented.
The school has a reputation for building incredible young dancers. Many of their students go on to pursue professional dance careers around the world and even within the infamous New York City Ballet.
For audiences and supporters, the workshop showcase is an opportunity to see these dancers up close. For the dancers, it’s a chance to gain professional experience and show the public what they have been working so diligently for.
Unfortunately, this year’s performances were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Students missed out on the opportunity to participate in the illustrious event.
Students were disappointed at the inability to show the audience what their years of training and work have produced. Dance is a craft that requires years of consistent work, as there is always room for growth. It is unfortunate students were not able to exhibit their talents.
It was especially disheartening for seniors of the company as they many are soon headed off to professional jobs in the dance industry. Senior company member, Rylee Ann Rogers, said she was looking forward to her last performance with her peers and being a part of the process as a whole.
Nostalgia Strikes During Quarantine
The School of American Ballet has decided that this year, rather than hosting their annual student showcase, they will be streaming past performances. Many of these performances are some of the most notable in the industry.
Some of the streamed footage includes ballets by Balanchine, the founding choreographer of City Ballet, and one of the most famous figures of dance worldwide. A pas de deux from the ballet “Agon” (1957) will be featured in a performance last year honoring the original male lead.
“Agon” (1957) is a groundbreaking ballet, especially for its time. It was set to work by Stravinsky and first performed during the Civil Rights movement and paired a white female and black male dancer – a very controversial situation in 1957.
Along with “Agon,” pieces from 1952’s “Scotch Symphony” will be streamed as it was performed by the company in 2017. The male lead of the performance was Davide Riccardo, who attributed the performance as being one that “changed how he danced.”
Mr. Riccardo and Mira Nadon, his “Scotch Symphony” partner, are now members of City Ballet.
Balanchine ballets were not included in the annual Workshop Performances until 1973. Suki Schorer, part of the school’s faculty for almost 50 years, claims that Balanchine himself told her to teach what she knew best. Schorer says what she knew best was Balanchine, and so that’s what she chose to teach.
These videos were never meant to be viewed by the public. They had been archived for internal reference purposes and as recordings of past performances.
Ms. Schorer said the performances are extremely powerful regardless of their intent not being for a small screen, but for a performance. This highlights the students’ and dancers’ hard work and excellent skill.
Although COVID-19 has amounted to unfortunate cancellations of traditional events around the globe, organizations like the School of American Ballet are trying their best to make up for lost experiences.