Tag Archive | "Rose Kelly"

Color, Melody and Clock Elves to Grace the Stage in Hampton Ballet Theatre School’s “Cinderella”

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Dancers perfect their style in a dress rehearsal at the Hampton Ballet Theatre School last week. Photo by Adam Baronella.

Dancers perfect their style in a dress rehearsal at the Hampton Ballet Theatre School last week. Photo by Adam Baranello.

By Tessa Raebeck

Since its completion in 1945, Sergei Prokofiev’s “Cinderella” suite has been performed hundreds of times across the globe, but rarely has it involved such cute grasshoppers.

This weekend, the Hampton Ballet Theatre School (HBTS) will revitalize the classic ballet, one of the famed Russian composer’s most celebrated compositions, in four performances at Guild Hall’s John Drew Theater. About 70 dancers, from bright-eyed four-year-olds to seasoned adult professionals, will grace the stage in the lively and melodious spring ballet.

In its eighth year of bringing dance to the East End, HBTS is returning to “Cinderella,” last presented by the company in 2011, with a few new twists.

Ninth grader Rose Kelly will play the lead role of Cinderella this weekend. Photo by Adam Baronello.

Ninth grader Rose Kelly will play the lead role of Cinderella this weekend. Photo by Adam Baranello.

The original dancers have grown up and the choreography has evolved with them; this weekend will mark the first time many of the company’s ballerinas perform en pointe throughout the entire ballet. When en pointe, a female ballet dancer supports all of her body weight with the tips of her fully extended vertical feet. The dancer must train and practice for years to develop the strength and technique required to do so.

“My goal for this ballet,” said Sara Jo Strickland, executive director and choreographer of HBTS, “was to really develop the older dancers at the core of the ballet and they’ve really done their job. I’m really proud of them.”

Known for its jubilant music and lush scenery, “Cinderella” is one of the most celebrated compositions of Mr. Prokofiev, a Russian composer, pianist and conductor and one of the major composers of the 20th century. Written upon his return home after a long absence following the Russian Revolution, the ballet was first staged in 1940, set aside during the height of World War II, and completed in 1945, premiering at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

“The older dancers all had very important roles and they all worked so hard,” Ms. Strickland said Sunday during a short lull in rehearsal time. “They really pulled the level of the dancing from our Nutcracker up by two or three steps.”

A student of Ms. Strickland’s since she was just two, 15-year-old Rose Kelly will dance the lead role of Cinderella.

“It’s one of my first dancers to do something so big, so I’m very excited,” Ms. Strickland said.

Rose will perform two distinct characterizations of Cinderella: the ragged, abused servant girl worrying her way across the stage and the beautiful vision of grace yearned for by the prince.

Partnering for the first time—a major accomplishment for a ballet dancer of any age—Rose is dancing with guest artist Nick Peregrino, a professional dancer with Ballet Fleming in Philadelphia.

“This is a huge challenge for her,” said Ms. Strickland. “It’s a big step for her at this age in her career…She far exceeded my expectations, she just worked so hard to learn all these new things.”

Other veteran HBTS dancers performing en pointe include Abigail Hubbell, who will play the iconic Fairy Godmother, and her twin sister Caitlin, the Spring Fairy. The seasons are a pivotal part of Prokofiev’s adaptation and their corresponding fairies are all accomplished roles.

Winter fairies include Falon Attias, Grace Dreher and Vincenzo James Harty. Vincenzo, a young man who has been dancing with Ms. Strickland, Rose, Caitlin and Abigail for years, will also play the comical role of Jester along with the Hubbell sisters.

Falon, Jade Diskin, Grace, Rachel Grindle, Jillian Hear and Samantha Prince will dance as Summer Fairies and Kelsey Casey, Devon Friedman, Hudson Galardi-Troy, Katie Nordlinger and Emma Silvera are Fall Fairies.

A few of the Clock Elves get into character at a Hampton Ballet Theatre School dress rehearsal last week. Photo by Adam Baranello.

A few of the Clock Elves get into character at a Hampton Ballet Theatre School dress rehearsal last week. Photo by Adam Baranello.

The antics of Prunella and Esmerelda, the evil stepsisters played by Beatrice de Groot and Maggie Ryan, provide some comical—albeit evil—relief.

HBTS’ production features roles Prokofiev added to the traditional fairy tale, such as the grasshoppers and dragonflies, or the “little creatures of the forest,” as Ms. Strickland calls the group of four and five-year-olds who scurry across the stage.

Guest artists Adam and Gail Baranello, teachers at HBTS who also own A&G Dance Company, will play Cinderella’s father and evil stepmother.

During the second act, the royal ball where Cinderella first catches the prince’s eye, the ballet evolves from the comic first act into a romantic presentation, said Ms. Strickland.

“I think people will be very excited and surprised because if you have followed us for a long time and watched the girls grow up, you’re really going to see the difference in this production,” Ms. Strickland said.

The Hampton Ballet Theatre School’s production of “Cinderella” is Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 1 and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street in East Hampton. Advanced tickets are $20 for children under 12 and $25 for adults. Tickets on the performance days are $25 for children under 12 and $30 for adults. To reserve tickets, call 888-933-4287 or visit hamptonballettheatreschool.com. For more information, call 237-4810 or email hbtstickets@gmail.com.

From Clara to the Snow Queen, a Ballerina Grows Up

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Rose Kelly as the Snow Queen in the 2012 performance of the Nutcracker.

Rose Kelly as the Snow Queen in the 2012 performance of the Nutcracker.

By Tessa Raebeck

The beautiful swan dances across the stage, slowly succumbing to a graceful death as the ballerina’s performance brings the audience to tears. When the curtain is called, the room whispers its wonder over where the Hampton Ballet Theatre School (HBTS) found such a talented professional. As she bows, the ballerina smiles; it appears this professional has braces.

Just 14 years old and in her freshman year of high school, Rose Kelly has been dancing with Sara Jo Strickland, affectionately called Miss Sara by her dancers at HBTS, since she was a toddler.

“I feel very special,” said Miss Sara, surrounded by young dancers in her Bridgehampton studio, “because I’ve developed her for years and to see it pay off…it’s happening.”

Before she could read or write, Rose could dance. As she grew, so did her dedication.

Throughout the years, Rose’s mother, Rachel Kelly, would ask her time and again, “Do you want to do ballet?”

“Of course I want to do ballet,” her daughter would respond. “Are you kidding me?”

When Miss Sara decided to open her own school, HBTS, in 2007, the Kelly’s followed her there.

“I’ve done it with her my whole life,” Rose says of Miss Sara. “So she is very special to me. A very special person and teacher and I feel like I have a connection with her.”

That connection was forged over the years through countless hours of studio time. Rose is in Miss Sara’s studio almost every day. She takes four ballet classes and one point class each week, in addition to rehearsal time for a spring show, “Peter and the Wolf” in the summer and “The Nutcracker” each holiday season.

When HBTS did its inaugural Nutcracker performance in 2009, Rose, about 10 at the time, was the school’s first Clara.

“That was fun for me to give her that role,” says Miss Sara, smiling at her pupil. “It’s a great memory,” adds Rose.

Next weekend, HBTS will present its fifth annual production of Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic. It is the company’s biggest performance yet, with a cast of over 100 dancers. This year, Rose has advanced to play the Snow Queen, Marzipan and the Dew Drop Princess.

A younger Rose Kelly as Clara.

A younger Rose Kelly as Clara.

“I’m very excited,” said Miss Sara, “because I see all those years from two and a half up are now coming to fruition.”

Rose will dance the Dew Drop number with her longtime dance partner Vincenzo James Harty, who has also been dancing with Miss Sara since he was a toddler. Along with Rose and Harty, three other girls, Maggie Swan and twins Caitlin and Abigail Hubbell, form a group of veteran HBTS dancers Miss Sara considers the leaders of her school.

“When you watch them in class dancing together,” said Miss Sara. “It’s like they are the same people…they have the same style.”

Last year was the first time the group danced timed on point (on the very tips of their toes) and this year their technique has “jumped two levels,” their teacher said.

“Their training has brought them to a new level, so I’m just excited to see them step on stage with renewed confidence,” said Miss Sara, beaming with pride. “So not only do I have this great older group, all the younger kids are following them…they really set a great example.”

In preparation for “The Nutcracker,” Miss Sara’s group of leaders have attended rehearsals, which can last up to three hours, every Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday – in addition to the five classes they take each week.

One would think Rose, who is in the studio every day, would revel in her rare time off, but she misses ballet on the days she doesn’t dance.

“When we have a break and we don’t have ballet,” Rose said, “I feel kind of like there’s nothing to do.”

When asked what her favorite part of ballet is, she cannot pin down one answer.

Rose Kelly as the Swan in the Carnival of Animals last spring.

Rose Kelly as the Swan in the Carnival of Animals last spring.

“I love the music and I love the dances and just how you move to it,” she said, adding, “I just love everything about dance.”

That love has been evident since the beginning.

“There are certain kids that have personalities that kind of relate to ballet,” explained Miss Sara. “She just had that calmness and the regimen didn’t bother her. She could pay attention at a young age…She just took to it – the music, the training – it just came really naturally to her…She just loves it, as you can tell.”

The love of dance is fundamental to HBTS and Miss Sara’s teaching philosophy. Her signature style, which focuses on freely dancing from the heart rather than being bound by strict technique, is well represented in her pupils.

The HBTS style was epitomized by Rose’s performance as the swan in last year’s spring show, “Carnival of Animals.”

“Talk about…using her technique to create something beautiful,” said Miss Sara.

“Watching her grow up has been amazing.”

The Hampton Ballet Theatre School will present Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” on Friday, December 13 at 7 p.m., Saturday, December 14 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, December 15 at 2 p.m. at the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street, East Hampton. Tickets can be reserved by calling 1-888-933-4287 or visiting hamptonballettheatreschool.com.