NEW BRUNSWICK – On April 20, American Repertory Ballet will hold its 28th annual gala performance and reception, White Nights, in downtown New Brunswick. The performance will begin at 6 p.m. at the Crossroads Theater, and the reception will begin at 7 p.m. across the street at the Heldrich Hotel.
The event will feature performances by American Repertory Ballet, dinner and dancing to the music of The Kenny i Orchestra, live and silent auctions, and more. Also at 7 p.m., Princeton Ballet School Students ages 12-18 years can enjoy a Junior Gala party with dinner, dancing and silent auction.
Every year, American Repertory Ballet’s Gala celebrates and showcases the three branches of the organization: ARB, NJ’s preeminent ballet company; its official school, Princeton Ballet School; and ARB’s Access & Enrichment programming. Also each year, ARB honors some of the organization’s outstanding supporters and awards an exceptional Princeton Ballet School faculty with the Audrée Estey Award for Excellence in Dance Education. This year’s gala honorees are New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill; Dr. Anthony R. and Marlene M. Volpe for their continued support of ARB’s DANCE POWER program; and Princeton Ballet School senior faculty member Maria Youskevitch.
A lifelong resident of New Brunswick, Cahill has been New Brunswick’s Mayor since 1991 and has worked to transform New Brunswick from a declining industrial city to a thriving urban center. He spurred collaborations among the private sector, the city’s health institutions, Rutgers University, Middlesex County, and the New Brunswick Development Corporation to make large investments the construction of new residential, retail, office, educational and healthcare facilities, which help financially support government and community services and public schools. He has done a lot of work to improve New Brunswick’s educational opportunities, including helping to create an innovative school construction strategy for neighborhood redevelopment with the new Lord Stirling School, which is now seen as the model for new school construction statewide. He has worked extensively with American Repertory Ballet as a supporter of the DANCE POWER program in the New Brunswick Public School District. DANCE POWER has brought dance education to all the third grade students in New Brunswick Public Schools for the past 28 years. The program’s annual Waiting in the Wings showcase is enjoyed by about one thousand New Brunswick community members each year.
Dr. Anthony R. and Marlene M. Volpe live in Middlesex County and have been supporters of American Repertory Ballet for years. During the 2011-2012 school year, they were the primary supporters of ARB’s pilot program of a brand new second grade DANCE POWER curriculum at Livingston Elementary School. This past January, based on the success of the pilot program, the second grade DANCE POWER program expanded to reach half of all second grade students in all eight New Brunswick elementary schools. The program’s curriculum features the concept of creating movement based on a text – a task aimed at improving students’ speaking, writing, literacy, and fluency skills.
Daughter of one of the leading dancers of the 20th century, Igor Youskevitch, Maria Youskevitch brings over 35 years of professional experience dancing, teaching, directing rehearsal, and restaging ballets to her work at Princeton Ballet School. She teaches for a variety of levels and, every year, re-stages a full-length classical ballet on Princeton Ballet School students for the School’s Spring Production. She has also served as Rehearsal Director for American Repertory Ballet, the professional company associated with Princeton Ballet School, on several occasions. This past December, Ms. Youskevitch was honored as a guest of the state to the 23rd Annual International Ballet Festival in Havana, Cuba, which was in celebration of the centenary of her father’s birth.
“Long before ‘creative placemaking’ gained traction as a community catalyst and economic stimulant, Mayor Cahill realized the value that arts could play in building a healthy, vibrant, connected community,” says ARB Managing Director Christine Chen. “His continued investment in the arts and education, through programs like DANCE POWER, has fomented great change in New Brunswick, and we’re thrilled to be honoring him this year at our gala alongside the Volpes, who were instrumental in the launch of our new second grade DANCE POWER program. Maria Youskevitch epitomizes excellence in dance education. Her experience and professionalism, as well as her link to the experience and legacy of her father makes her a true gem to our organization. We’re thrilled to be bringing together our supporters to honor these individuals, and we look forward to this special evening organized by our wonderful gala committee. New Brunswick has been an important home to us since 1981, and DANCE POWER remains the longest running Arts/Community partnership in New Jersey, so it is particularly fitting that we hold this important evening in the heart of New Brunswick’s downtown arts district this year.”
At the White Nights performance, American Repertory Ballet will perform selections from the current repertory, including Douglas Martin’s eagerly anticipated Rite of Spring. Students from Princeton Ballet School’s Professional Training Program will perform excerpts from Swan Lake, staged by Maria Youskevitch. First- and second-year DANCE POWER Scholars, DANCE POWER students who were selected from the program to study at Princeton Ballet School on full scholarship, and have been doing so for one or two years, will also perform.
“The intimate Crossroads Theatre is a great space for our Gala performance – a showcase of ARB’s artistic prowess, wide scope of work, and strong impact on local communities,” notes ARB’s Artistic Director Douglas Martin.
Lead sponsors of White Nights are Colgate-Palmolive and Dr. Anthony R. and Marlene M. Volpe. Gala co-chairs are Jo-Ann Munoz, Trustee, Jennifer Faber, and Hedy DiSimoni. Co-chairs for the Junior Gala are Stacy Westhusin and Cristina Bedoya-Banfitch.