Ballet dancer

Gabe Stone Shayer, Philly native and ballet dancer, wins $50,000 artistic prize | Arts

NEW YORK – Philadelphia native, rising ballet dancer and choreographer Gabe Stone Shayer has been selected to receive the Levinson Arts Achievement Award, a $50,000 grant made possible by Robert A. Levinson and Patricia S. Levinson through their fund of the New York Community Trust.

Shayer, 26, was recently promoted to soloist with American Ballet Theater (ABT) and has danced to success around the world. In recent years, Shayer has choreographed pieces, including a video for ABT in which he collaborated with 15-Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Alicia Keys. Additionally, he formed Creative Genesis, a nonprofit that recently staged a ballet that worked within the confines of social distancing.

“The goal of the award is to quickly recognize emerging talent who needs to be brought to light to help them on their journey and to broaden awareness of their contributions,” said Robert Levinson, Founder of The Levinson Awards. annual.

“Gabe Stone Shayer is incredibly talented, and the Levinson Arts Achievement Award is proud to honor his work and help support his future,” said Bree Jeppson, Chair of the Selection Committee. “Furthermore, given the current challenges facing the arts, and in particular the performing arts, we felt it was even more significant that this year’s award goes to an emerging choreographer. Gabe Shayer grows his practice with determination at a time when such efforts are most needed. We hope that the financial commitment of the Levinson Art Award will provide opportunities for her choreographic development and further her creative endeavours.

“I’m extremely grateful and so surprised,” Shayer said. “It’s the comfort a young artist needs to move forward. It’s a gesture that says ‘we’re supporting you and we’re supporting you’, and for that I’m very grateful.”

Shayer said he has expressed himself through movement virtually since birth, recalling how he used to dance around his grandmother as a toddler, moving to the beat of her voice as he that she spoke in the Ghanaian language of Ga. He grew up in Philadelphia, beginning his formal ballet training there at age 11 and touring nationally at age 13. In 2009 he attended the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow and won first place for Best Male Dancer. He continued his studies at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and is the first African-American man to graduate from the Academy.

He joined ABT Studio Company in 2011, the main company as an apprentice in April 2012, and the corps de ballet in November 2012. He was promoted to soloist in September 2020.

Although the current pandemic has hampered the performing arts season, Shayer has kept busy with several projects. Most recently, he was creative director of “Pas de Deux”, a video series pairing ABT dancers with leading artists for interviews and artistic collaborations, sponsored by Chanel. The series featured Shayer’s own collaboration with Keys, as he performed her choreography to her recently released song “Love Looks Better.” For Bloomingdale’s 2020 Virtual Vacation, Shayer created unique choreography for an innovative motion capture experience.

In September of this year, Shayer created a “bubble project” for Creative Genesis where dancers quarantined together so they could perform safely without masks. The piece for eight dancers, titled “Good Moon”, was performed at a Long Beach Island Arts and Sciences Foundation gallery in New Jersey, and was viewable online and by members of the public watching through a window from outside the room.

To give a new generation a start in dance, Shayer is teaching ballet virtually to young dance students at two schools in Ghana and has set up scholarships for staff to study ABT’s national training curriculum. .

“I found it important for me to be able to contribute my knowledge and experience to people who may not have been exposed to the possibility of a classical ballet career or the knowledge of training “, Shayer said.

Robert Levinson, the award’s founder, was a member of the Brooklyn Museum’s board of trustees from 1968 to 1994 and president from 1972 to 1984. He has also served on the board of trustees of the National Academy of Design, the National Dance Institute , the Hood Museum of Art and the Harlem School of the Arts.

“My late wife, Pat, and I were strong supporters of the arts,” Levinson said. “We are particularly interested in helping promising young artists, whether visual or performing. With this award, I hope to help artists move from relative obscurity to a brighter platform from which they can improve their chances of self-help success.