Six alumni of the Metropolitan Ballet Academy & Company of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania are progressing in dance companies and conservatories across America, including New York City Ballet (NYCB), Pacific Northwest Ballet, Philadanco, Cincinnati Ballet and the Colorado Ballet.
In his review of the prestigious School of American Ballet (SAB) 2017 Workshop Performance, Observer dance critic Robert Gottlieb wrote (June 14, 2017), “City Ballet’s next generation of stars are on their way.” Philadelphia-area Darius Black (18, of Voorhees, NJ) could be one of those future stars, as he was one of eight new apprentices announced by NYCB/SAB Artistic Director Peter Martins immediately after the annual performances of SAB students. The New York City Ballet, founded by famous choreographer George Balanchine in 1948, is considered one of the best ballet companies in the world.
Mr. Black is an alumnus of the Metropolitan Ballet Academy & Company, where he began ballet at the age of eight under the school’s famous boys’ scholarship scheme; he trained there for six years before earning a merit scholarship to SAB at age 14. , Mr. Black also gained performance experience as a member of the Metropolitan Ballet Company. While many Metropolitan students have won scholarships to study at prestigious companies and many alumni perform professionally in the United States and abroad, Mr. Black is the first Metropolitan Ballet student to secure a coveted position. as an NYCB apprentice.
Metropolitan Ballet alumni across America
Metropolitan Ballet alumnus Melissa Gelfin (24, from Philadelphia, PA) was recently promoted to Senior Soloist at the Cincinnati Ballet, which she joined in 2014. Ms. Gelfin entered the Metropolitan Ballet’s Creative Dance Program at the age of three and studied ballet in the studio for 11 years, later training at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in New York at the American Ballet Theater (ABT), where in 2009 she was awarded a national scholarship training with the ABT. She performed with the Orlando Ballet for four years and was a finalist in 2014 at the famous USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. In 2015, Ms. Gelfin also danced in the Cincinnati Opera’s production of Turandot.
Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan (20, from Philadelphia, PA) was promoted in 2017 to the corps de ballet of Pacific Northwest Ballet, which she joined as an apprentice in 2016. Ms. Ryan studied at the Metropolitan Ballet Academy in 2008 to 2010 and is a former member of the Metropolitan Ballet Company. She attended Metropolitan’s acclaimed Summer Intensive Program throughout her pre-professional training years to present, in addition to summer programs at SAB, San Francisco Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet. Prior to joining Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ms. Ryan was a member of Pennsylvania Ballet II.
Marissa Kaufmann (22, from Dresher, Pennsylvania), who began studying ballet at the Metropolitan Ballet Academy at age 4, joined Danco2 (D2), the Apprentice Company of PHILADANCO, The Philadelphia Dance Company , beginning July 10, 2017. Ms. Kaufmann trained at the Metropolitan for eight years before pursuing advanced training in modern dance. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography from Towson University in May 2017 and has danced with Vaught Contemporary Ballet in Baltimore, Maryland, and Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey. In August 2017, Ms. Kaufmann performed with Project Moshen at the Koresh Dance Company’s Come Together Dance Festival, which also featured work she choreographed.
Sara VanderVoort (23, from Feasterville, PA) was recently promoted to apprentice at Colorado Ballet, where another Metropolitan Ballet alum – Ariel Breitman (from Huntingdon Valley, PA) – has been dancing since 2014. Ms VanderVoort began her ballet training at the Metropolitan Ballet Academy at age 12, studying under Lisa Collins Vidnovic, Natalya Zeiger and Denise D’Angelo. During her six years at the studio, Ms. VanderVoort performed as “Hot Chocolate/Spanish” in the Pennsylvania Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker by George Balanchine, and participated in the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) and the Regional Dance America, where she won multiple full scholarships to summer programs including BalletX, Washington Ballet, and Atlanta Ballet. She joined Colorado Ballet’s Studio Company in 2012, then danced with Nashville Ballet before returning to Colorado Ballet in 2015. “I am thrilled to begin my first season as a company member of Colorado Ballet,” says -she.
Tyler Diggs (16, from Holland, Pennsylvania), who began his training in 2009 as a member of the Metropolitan Ballet Boys’ Fellowship Program, has been accepted with a fellowship at Harid Conservatory for 2017-18. In January 2017, Mr. Diggs placed in the Top 12 Classical and Contemporary Soloists in the YAGP Regional Semi-Final in Boston, and in the YAGP Regional Semi-Final in Philadelphia in 2016, he was awarded second place in the junior men’s classic competition. Previously, he had obtained scholarships to participate in summer programs at the Orlando Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet. Mr. Diggs will attend the prestigious Harid program in Boca Raton, Florida this year, and earlier this year he set up a GoFundMe fundraising website to help him pursue his dream of becoming a professional dancer.
On his website, Mr Diggs says: “I’ve studied ballet at the Metropolitan Ballet Academy since I was 7 and loved every minute of it. The financial assistance provided by the MBA has been so helpful in getting me where I am now, and I hope to move forward in my pursuit of a dance career. Dancing gives me such an incredible feeling of elation and joy, and I really want to be able to experience it and share it with others for Between all the stressful aspects of life, like school and financial issues, dancing is one of the few things that allows me to escape all these worries and truly express myself in a way that is impossible by any other means. It’s become such a big part of who I am today, and I have no idea who I would be without it…”
“The Metropolitan Ballet Academy & Company community is immensely proud of all of our alumni, who have worked so hard to achieve such significant achievements in the highly competitive world of dance,” said Founder and Artistic Director Lisa Collins Vidnovic. . “Our esteemed faculty work closely with all of our students, as I believe that classical training is a framework of excellence that can help all children succeed in their pursuits, both in and out of the studio.
Metropolitan Ballet students who wish to pursue a career in dance are guided through the challenging maze of training, ballet competitions and performance opportunities, and prepared to excel in any studio or on any stage. . Now in our 22nd year, Metropolitan has alumni performing in the United States from coast to coast and also internationally. Dance company directors know that The Metropolitan Ballet produces dancers who perform with the confidence and joy that comes from the highest quality experience and training.”
About Metropolitan Ballet Academy & Company
Founded in 1996 by Artistic Director Lisa Collins Vidnovic, Metropolitan Ballet Academy & Company is a nationally recognized classical ballet school offering classes for all ages and levels, including creative dance for children, ballet lessons for beginners through to pre-professional dance levels, an acclaimed school for boys. ‘ Dance scholarship program and courses for adults. Acclaimed for “cultivating the best talent”, the studio promotes a positive and nurturing atmosphere in which students receive personalized attention and encouragement from a dedicated and recognized faculty. Its non-profit affiliate Metropolitan Ballet Company offers scholarships and performance training that emphasizes student involvement in the creative process and produces remarkable results, as evidenced by the many notable achievements of alumni. of Metropolitan. Learn more at 215.663.1665 or www.metropolitanballetacademy.com.
Darius Black (left, in white), Mary Thomas MacKinnon and Roman Mejia at Hallelujah Junction, School of American Ballet Workshop Performance, New York, June 3-5, 2017; photo ©Paul Kolnik.