Tag Archive | "youth"

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


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.

Ross School in East Hampton Unveils New Marine Science Program

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Students from the Ross School working aboard a SoMAS research vessel.

Students from the Ross School working aboard a SoMAS research vessel.

By Tessa Raebeck

One scientist is looking at the medical applications of 3D printing technology, another is working on a Hydrogen-powered fuel cell and a third is developing an inexpensive way to have a prosthetic limb that responds to brain control. What do the three scientists have in common? They’re all in high school.

The projects are just some examples of independent research taking place in the Innovation Lab at the Ross School. Now in its second year, the program is adding marine science to its curriculum, which already includes diverse subjects like engineering, computer programming, woodworking, metalworking and welding.

“The Innovation Lab is a unique program that uses applied science and education to meet current problems of our society,” explained Paul Flagg, a teacher at Ross who was brought in to lead the marine science program. “So we are going to be working locally, regionally and globally in our efforts.”

In addition to the Ross School core curriculum, students in the Innovation Lab spend an extra hour at school each day working on their independent projects, which they choose and design themselves.

“The students are given a lot of latitude to select a project that they’re interested in,” Dr. David Morgan, the director of the lab, said. “What I tell students is if they’re not looking forward all day to when the Innovation Lab time comes around and they get to work on their project, then they probably chose the wrong project.”

“I really want the students all working on something they’re passionate about,” he added, “that is the kind of thing they would be doing anyway if they weren’t in school. Those are the kinds of students we’re looking for and the kinds of projects we try to steer them towards.”

Drawing on local resources and global ideas, the marine science program aims to broaden the Innovation Lab past engineering-type sciences to include life sciences and allows students to choose their focus from a large and diverse field.

“I think of the marine science program as more broadly than just fishing and plankton,” said Dr. Morgan. “It’s about global environmental issues. It’s about sustainability.”

“There’s room for students,” he added, “who are interested in genetics. There’s room there for students who are interested in resource management, fisheries, oceanography, computer modeling of global climate change…it’s a pretty big field.”

Flagg, who has an extensive background in fisheries and marine biology, designed the new program’s first course, “The Earth and its Oceans,” which is focused on physical oceanography and marine theology, currently in the fourth of 12 weeks.

Students are building a ROV (remote operated vehicle), “basically a robotic submarine,” said Dr. Morgan, and developing data collection packages to test the water for things like salinity and dissolved oxygen content.

In all projects, students are encouraged to look at problems in an interdisciplinary fashion.

Following the course, 22 students and five faculty members will travel to Mo’orea, a remote island in French Polynesia, for 20 days during the Ross School’s midwinter term.

In collaboration with National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institute, they will conduct field research for a bio-code project at University of California at Berkeley’s Richard Gump Research Station.

“It’s an inventory of all life that exists” in Mo’orea, said Flagg. “We’re working on that inventory, including the genetic identity of each species, and so far the project has been going for five years and we’re coming to support it.”

Dr. Morgan said such trips are going to be an important part of the program.

“Getting students working not just in our local waters,” he said, “but getting them to experience environments that they might not otherwise get a chance to experience.”

Some students, he said, are conducting research on using the oceans to generate power through wave and tidal power generation or generating electricity from the temperature difference between the surface water and water 100 meters below.

“[We are] looking at the oceans as a source of energy and not just a place that we pull things out of to eat,” said Dr. Morgan, adding that the Ross School encourages students to think about global environmental impact in all their projects and “how this technology might be able to help mitigate things like environmental effects of human existence on this planet.”

The Ross School is offering three full tuition merit-based scholarships, including stipends and support for all four years, for marine science students from the local community.

Two scholarships have already been awarded to Evi Kaasik Saunders and Liam Cummings, but one is still available. To apply for the remaining scholarship, visit ross.org/apply or email admissions@ross.org.

“We feel committed,” Flagg said, “to supporting the community with research and students that are interested and would like to be involved in matters of local concern — such as the effects of sea-level change, effects of mismanagement of fisheries — so we think there’s a lot of opportunity for high-level participation and support of local resource management in the marine environment.”

Although students are doing work on a global scale, the program is committed to the local community.

“We feel that we’re part of a community that has a long relationship and dependence on the ocean for its survival,” said Flagg.

 

Public Criticizes Youth and Senior Funding Cuts

Tags: , , , , ,


Supporters of youth and senior programs once again lobbied the Southampton Town Board during a budget hearing held on Tuesday to keep funding for 2010 intact. Executive Director of Alternatives Counseling Center Christina Epifania asked the board to be “courageous” regarding the youth and seniors in the community. Epifania said her staff has noticed local children are feeling the stress burdening their parents, and said the services provided by the town’s youth bureau are greatly needed at this time.
“If you take services away from the youth it is something you are going to pay for in the future,” remarked Epifania. During a later interview, Epifania said she worries young teenagers will turn to drugs and bad behavior if the number of available after school programs are limited.
Bonnie Cannon, the Executive Director of the Bridgehampton Child Care Center, added to Epifania’s sentiments. Cannon noted that cuts in youth funding will most likely affect those in the low to moderate income bracket. She added that the majority of clients served by the child care center are African-American or from the Latino community.
Members of the senior community commended the town on the services provided at the Bridgehampton and Hampton Bays senior centers, but said they believed proposed funding cuts would put the programming in jeopardy.
Supervisor Linda Kabot, however, explained that the 2010 preliminary budget doesn’t cut funding for the adult day care and transportation program. She said the decreases in funding stem from eliminating two administrative positions and reducing the budget of the nutrition program. The total funds cut for senior services amounts to $120,000.
Councilwoman Nancy Graboski presented a resolution to increase the Cablevision franchise fee from 4 percent to 5 percent. Currently, the town earns $1,000,000 in revenue from the franchise fee. By increasing the fee one percent, the town will gross approximately $1.25 million. A portion of the increased revenues could be spent on youth and senior programs and staff, noted Kabot. She added that the youth services program had far more draconian cuts than the senior program.
“These cuts don’t affect me personally, but I think I took this for granted. There are people around us who don’t have sports practice or a safe place to go after school. Even though these cuts may not affect your own children, they will affect the community,” noted a senior at Southampton High School, who is also a member of the Southampton Town Youth Board.
Although the board didn’t elaborate on any amendments to be made to the budget before it is filed on November 20, councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst announced she would gain close to $80,000 in savings from eliminating two positions in the supervisor’s office. Throne-Holst won the bid for supervisor on November 3 and will take office in January of 2010.
Though the budget hearing elicited a number of comments from the community, the audience shrunk by half when the board moved onto a hearing regarding piercing the five percent tax rate increase.
The preliminary budget calls for a full five percent tax rate increased, resulting in $33 additional taxes for a household valued at $500,000. The proposed tax rate for 2010 is tentatively set at $1.387 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
“The budget on the table is leaner than the budget we are operating from right now,” noted Kabot. However, this does not include the deficit in the capital fund. Kabot is proposing that the town surplus, or sell off, certain town owned properties that weren’t purchased with Community Preservation Funds to shore up a portion of the deficit in 2010 and then enact deficit reduction payments in the following budgets. If the town opts not to sell off surplus property, Kabot contended the five percent tax rate cap could be pierced to handle these deficits. The capital fund deficit is around $6 million, said Kabot. If the tax rate cap was pierced to handle these debts, it would roughly result in $60 in additional taxes for a home valued at $500,000. This figure excludes the $33 tax increase already slated for the operating budget.
The town will revisit the idea of piercing the five percent tax rate cap during a work session on Friday, November 13. On Friday, the town board will also hold a hearing on the preliminary budget. The budget must be adopted before Friday, November 20.

Ten Years for the Kids: YARD marks an anniversary

Tags: , ,


When Debbie Skinner looks back on her last 10 years at the helm of Sag Harbor’s YARD program, one thought comes to her head.

“That was fast,” says Skinner.

YARD stands for Youth Advocacy Resource Development. The non-profit program, which has its own board and operates under the umbrella of the Sag Harbor School District, was designed a decade ago to create recreational opportunities for middle and high school students — particularly those who don’t take part in traditional offerings for teens.

“From the beginning, the program was designed to reach out to at-risk youth and kids with unstructured time on their hands,” explains Skinner. “Not everyone plays sports — this is a good outlet for them.”

YARD’s flagship offering is the Safe Summer Beach Program which is held on Long Beach every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the summer.

“Right from the very beginning, they wanted the beach program to be the anchor program of YARD,” recalls Skinner who explained the program was modeled on other programs on Long Island, including one at Smith Point Park.

“It took off immediately,” says Skinner of YARD’s beach program. “There’s a lot of free time in the summer and we were serving kids at a time when they were available to be served.”

Southampton Town’s Parks and Recreation Department, which oversees Long Beach, provides lighting and other equipment for YARD’s program. Teens come to the beach to skateboard in the parking lot, play basketball or just hang out with friends.

“Some of them just want to sit on the lifeguard stand and watch the sun go down,” says Skinner.

There are also special offerings, including movies on the beach, which the town offers each summer, and a night when local teen bands take the stage.

Skinner notes that while the Smith Point Park program has since ended due to the threat of West Nile Virus, the Sag Harbor program is going strong.

“We probably had over 2,400 kids this summer,” says Skinner. “I have a lot of kids from England. We’ve had them from Paris, Germany, London, Chile, Ireland.”

“That’s the best part of the beach program,” she adds. “It is the fabulous Hamptons, so people do come from all over the world. There’s so much exposure for our kids to meet kids from other places. They make friendships they wouldn’t have made otherwise, and they’ll go to the ocean together the next day or correspond via email.”

But YARD’s offerings don’t end with summer. Skinner notes that one of the program’s most important functions begins with the final bell of the school day. That’s when Pierson students who are between activities or not yet ready to go home come and socialize in YARD’s community room at the school.

“It’s a place of transition,” explains Skinner. “Some kids go there right after school and wait for the parents to pick them up. Some go there after homework club. Some go and wait for a 3 p.m. practice to start, or for a 4:30 game. Some have play practice and go there when it’s not their scene.”

With the colder months approaching, YARD will soon be starting the Saturday open recreation night where students can burn off a little steam with activities in the school gym. New this year is equipment that will allow Skinner to offer movies on a big screen.

“We also do bus trips during the school holidays, like cosmic bowl which we do the night after Thanksgiving,” add Skinner. “It’s always a very popular trip.”

After 10 years, when asked if YARD has in fact influenced those kids it was designed to reach, Skinner says, “Just participating has probably changed the track for many kids. I think if you’re offering something to the children that is of interest for them, you’ll reach them.”

This Saturday, it’s the adults YARD is looking to reach with its annual fundraising cocktail party and silent auction from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at B. Smith’s Restaurant on Long Wharf. Admission is $25 and guest of honor will be Joan Frisicano, principal of Sag Harbor Elementary School.

Given the current economic woes, Skinner worries that YARD may feel the pinch in the coming year. She is hoping for a good turnout at the cocktail party.

“The fundraiser is a very big deal,” says Skinner. “With the economy the way it is a lot of funders of our program are cutting back. Suffolk County Youth Bureau usually gives us 15 percent, they’re cutting back to eight percent. I’ve heard from another source an impending cut is probably coming.”

“We’re working to keep our own safety net beneath us,” she adds. “We don’t know what’s on the horizon.”

For more information on the fundraiser, call 725-5302 ext. 750.

 Above: The flagship program for YARD is the Safe Summer Beach Program, which hosts an annual Battle of the Bands

 

Ten Years for the Kids: YARD Marks an Anniversary

Tags: , ,


When Debbie Skinner looks back on her last 10 years at the helm of Sag Harbor’s YARD program, one thought comes to her head.

“That was fast,” says Skinner.

YARD stands for Youth Advocacy Resource Development. The non-profit program, which has its own board and operates under the umbrella of the Sag Harbor School District, was designed a decade ago to create recreational opportunities for middle and high school students — particularly those who don’t take part in traditional offerings for teens.

“From the beginning, the program was designed to reach out to at-risk youth and kids with unstructured time on their hands,” explains Skinner. “Not everyone plays sports — this is a good outlet for them.”

YARD’s flagship offering is the Safe Summer Beach Program which is held on Long Beach every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the summer.

“Right from the very beginning, they wanted the beach program to be the anchor program of YARD,” recalls Skinner who explained the program was modeled on other programs on Long Island, including one at Smith Point Park.

“It took off immediately,” says Skinner of YARD’s beach program. “There’s a lot of free time in the summer and we were serving kids at a time when they were available to be served.”

Southampton Town’s Parks and Recreation Department, which oversees Long Beach, provides lighting and other equipment for YARD’s program. Teens come to the beach to skateboard in the parking lot, play basketball or just hang out with friends.

“Some of them just want to sit on the lifeguard stand and watch the sun go down,” says Skinner.

There are also special offerings, including movies on the beach, which the town offers each summer, and a night when local teen bands take the stage.

Skinner notes that while the Smith Point Park program has since ended due to the threat of West Nile Virus, the Sag Harbor program is going strong.

“We probably had over 2,400 kids this summer,” says Skinner. “I have a lot of kids from England. We’ve had them from Paris, Germany, London, Chile, Ireland.”

“That’s the best part of the beach program,” she adds. “It is the fabulous Hamptons, so people do come from all over the world. There’s so much exposure for our kids to meet kids from other places. They make friendships they wouldn’t have made otherwise, and they’ll go to the ocean together the next day or correspond via email.”

But YARD’s offerings don’t end with summer. Skinner notes that one of the program’s most important functions begins with the final bell of the school day. That’s when Pierson students who are between activities or not yet ready to go home come and socialize in YARD’s community room at the school.

“It’s a place of transition,” explains Skinner. “Some kids go there right after school and wait for the parents to pick them up. Some go there after homework club. Some go and wait for a 3 p.m. practice to start, or for a 4:30 game. Some have play practice and go there when it’s not their scene.”

With the colder months approaching, YARD will soon be starting the Saturday open recreation night where students can burn off a little steam with activities in the school gym. New this year is equipment that will allow Skinner to offer movies on a big screen.

“We also do bus trips during the school holidays, like cosmic bowl which we do the night after Thanksgiving,” add Skinner. “It’s always a very popular trip.”

After 10 years, when asked if YARD has in fact influenced those kids it was designed to reach, Skinner says, “Just participating has probably changed the track for many kids. I think if you’re offering something to the children that is of interest for them, you’ll reach them.”

This Saturday, it’s the adults YARD is looking to reach with its annual fundraising cocktail party and silent auction from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at B. Smith’s Restaurant on Long Wharf. Admission is $25 and guest of honor will be Joan Frisicano, principal of Sag Harbor Elementary School.

Given the current economic woes, Skinner worries that YARD may feel the pinch in the coming year. She is hoping for a good turnout at the cocktail party.

“The fundraiser is a very big deal,” says Skinner. “With the economy the way it is a lot of funders of our program are cutting back. Suffolk County Youth Bureau usually gives us 15 percent, they’re cutting back to eight percent. I’ve heard from another source an impending cut is probably coming.”

“We’re working to keep our own safety net beneath us,” she adds. “We don’t know what’s on the horizon.”

For more information on the fundraiser, call 725-5302 ext. 750.

The flasghip program for YARD is the Safe Summer Beach Program which hosts an annual Battle of the Bands