BIG NEWS! Here's the latest Issue of NJ Stage Magazine -- Click here

Firsts and Lasts: New Jersey Ballet Season Opener at Mayo Performing Arts Center

By Patricia K. Johnson, JerseyArts.com

originally published: 11/14/2019

Firsts and Lasts: New Jersey Ballet Season Opener at Mayo Performing Arts Center

This time of year is always my favorite, because so many performing arts seasons get underway, and they are full of promise and excitement.

While New Jersey Ballet has already kicked off their full season earlier this fall (its 61st!), they are about to open the Mayo Performing Arts Center portion this Saturday, November 16 with their “Season Opener” program. This program features five works showcasing a range of styles.

One of the works on the program is “Death and the Maiden,” choreographed by Robert North to music by Franz Schubert (String Quartet in D Minor). This Schubert string quartet music itself is actually known as “Death and the Maiden” because the theme in the second movement is taken from a song he wrote in 1817 with that title. This string quartet is a really important work of the chamber music repertoire and was composed in 1824 after Schubert became seriously ill and realized he was dying. The ballet by Robert North is searing portrait of a young woman’s struggle and eventual surrender to Death, and represents the full range of dramatic possibilities that are possible in dance.

Firsts and Lasts: New Jersey Ballet Season Opener at Mayo Performing Arts Center

The role of the Maiden is danced by Gabrielle Pierson, who has just begun her 21st season with New Jersey Ballet. This season will also be her last with the ballet company – she will retire at the end of the season. Pierson is dancing this work for the very first time, though it is a work she saw growing up and has been in the company’s repertoire for so long.

Pierson is dancing this work on Saturday as a gift to her mother. She told me, “My mother said that if there was any ballet she wanted to see me dance, it would be this. My mother got me to where I am today, so I requested to be able to dance this work as my gift to her.”

(By the way, if anyone is looking to jump start their New Year’s Resolution list, I think Pierson has given us all a wonderful starting point: Make a similarly moving, meaningful gesture to our parents or loved ones.)

Firsts and Lasts: New Jersey Ballet Season Opener at Mayo Performing Arts CenterBeyond this weekend’s performance, this entire last season is especially momentous for Pierson. “It’s been a hard decision to make to retire,” she told me. “Ballet has been my passion – especially performing. I live to perform. Every time I’m on stage now, it’s bringing me close to the end, but that makes every performance all the more special. I’ve had a wonderful career, and it was important to me to be able to finish my career still dancing everything I could dance when I first started.”

Pierson says that the company is like family to her. She saw New Jersey Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” in December of 1989, and the very next month enrolled in classes.

“My director turned me into the dancer and even the person I am today,” she said. When asked if there was a piece on Saturday’s program that she especially wanted to watch, she said no, that there was no one favorite work. “I’m really a fan of the other dancers in the company and I love to watch them onstage. Because I’ve also taught in the ballet school, I’ve seen many of these dancers grow up and a number of them have been students of mine.”

Firsts and Lasts: New Jersey Ballet Season Opener at Mayo Performing Arts CenterAnother work on the Season Opener program is “About Happiness,” which is a new ballet choreographed by Jackson Ferreira, a dancer in the company, to music by Julius Röntgen: 3 Suites and Sonatas for Solo Violin, Op. 68. Ferreira tells me that this is a fun piece of choreography, divided into four movements and performed by two dancers.

“It begins with a slow and expressive duet where both dancers are searching for self-happiness in their partner,” said Ferreira. “Shortly into that duet, they realize that happiness is complex and must start from within themselves. The female variation, performed by Ilse Kapteyn, includes precise musicality and fast movements. The male variation, performed by me, includes modern-inspired technique and emphasis on upper body movements. The final pas de deux is very joyful and is the final moment where the dancers become connected in their enjoyment.”

When asked about the inspiration for the work, Ferreira said that “this piece derived from my own experience trying to translate the true meaning of happiness. This piece is full of dynamic movements because I quickly realized that happiness takes many forms. That said, I hope each audience member watches my piece and leaves feeling closer to their own definition of what happiness is.”

This is the first work that Ferreira has choreographed for New Jersey Ballet. Choreography gives him the freedom to express himself through another dancer’s body.

“It’s indescribable to see my emotions and thoughts being interpreted through other dancers,” he said. “I love getting to choreograph on my fellow dancers and friends because every dancer has such different artistry, so I can push myself to create pieces that best suit the dancer, while also pushing them outside of their comfort zone in the best way possible.”

This is hopefully the first of many pieces we’ll see choreographed by Ferreira.

“From hip hop to a church group to ballet, I always have been choreographing. I aspire to choreograph for a very long time and I’m grateful that the New Jersey Ballet Company has given me a platform to present my work to a large audience.”

Firsts and Lasts: New Jersey Ballet Season Opener at Mayo Performing Arts Center

Other works on the program Saturday evening are “A Dance for You,” “Danzon” and “This Thing Called Love.”

“A Dance for You” is performed to music by Teresa Carreno and choreographed by Vincente Nebrada. Nebrada describes this work as “a dance for dancers. I wanted to create a ballet that will give every dancer a chance to shine.” The pas de deux from this ballet has been performed by American Ballet Theatre and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and was the inspiration for this full-length work.

Firsts and Lasts: New Jersey Ballet Season Opener at Mayo Performing Arts Center“Danzon” is choreographed by Pedro Ruiz to music by Arturo Marquez. The danzon is a traditional ballroom dance played by the Cuban charangas and has been called the official dance of Cuba. It is a descendent of the popular Spanish danza of the 1800s and the French contredanse brought by the French immigrants fleeing the Haitian Revolution, who settled in Cuba's eastern region. Cuban choreographer Pedro Ruiz has reinvented this traditional dance and music form with contemporary language to create a joyous celebration of music and movement.

Finally, “This Thing Called Love” is also a new work, choreographed by Margo Sappington to music by Cole Porter. In addition to the song “This Thing Called Love,” other Porter songs used in this work include “Night and Day,” “Ridin’ High,” “You Do Something to Me,” “So in Love” and “It’s De-Lovely.” 

Want more New Jersey Ballet at Mayo PAC? You’re in luck because they will perform five other programs there this season: “Nutcracker” (December 13–27); ‘Hansel and Gretel” (March 1); “Don Quixote” (March 14); “All American Evening,” featuring Agnes de Mille’s “Rodeo” (May 16); and “Cinderella” (May 17).

The Details

New Jersey Ballet presents its Season Opener program on Saturday, November 16 at 8:00 p.m. at Mayo Center for the Performing Arts, located at 100 South Street in Morristown. Tickets ($29–$89) may be purchased at mayoarts.org. For more information about New Jersey Ballet, visit njballet.org.



About the author: About the author: Patricia, Jersey born and bred, is a lifelong arts lover, arts patron, performer and artist. One of the very few people who actually cheers when The Dreaded Opera Category shows up on Jeopardy, Patricia is also an avid Yankee fan (from birth) and is learning to become an Eagles fan (from marriage).

Content provided by Discover Jersey Arts, a project of the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation and New Jersey State Council on the Arts.





More Articles You Might Like

NJPAC Presents Presents Philadanco
NJPAC Presents Presents Philadanco
Richard Alston Dance Company Returns To Peak Performances
Richard Alston Dance Company Returns To Peak Performances
10 Hairy Legs Company Returns to Elizabeth Public Schools With Dance To Learn Program
10 Hairy Legs Company Returns to Elizabeth Public Schools With Dance To Learn Program
Rennie Harris Puremovement Brings Hip-Hop Dance to Rowan During Black History Month
Rennie Harris Puremovement Brings Hip-Hop Dance to Rowan During Black History Month
Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company to Receive Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts
Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company to Receive Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts
10 Hairy Legs Company Member  Robert Mark Burke Awarded 2020 Choreography Fellowship
10 Hairy Legs Company Member Robert Mark Burke Awarded 2020 Choreography Fellowship

Event calendar
Fri, Feb 21, 2020


MUSIC


FUNGKSHUI @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

Longwave @ The Wonder Bar, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

SUPER DIAMOND @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

Light Opera of NJ presents "Die Fledermaus" @ St Marks Episcopal Church (Basking Ridge), Basking Ridge - 8:00pm

LUCERO @ White Eagle Hall, Jersey City - 8:30pm

Les Paul Festival: The Young Philadelphians @ Berrie Center for the Arts, Ramapo College, Mahwah - 8:00pm

Get The Led Out @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm

Academy of St Martin in The Fields with Joshua Bell @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 8:00pm

Mardi Gras Boogaloo 2020 @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm

Rod MacDonald in concert at Princeton Folk Music Society @ Christ Congregation Church, Princeton - 8:00pm

Mandy Harvey @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 8:00pm

Eric Lindell Solo @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm

Kinky Boots (Broadcast) @ Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 7:30pm






THEATRE


The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee @ CDC Theatre, Cranford - 8:00pm

RITZ KIDZ - Pinocchio @ The Ritz Theatre, Haddon Twp - 10:00am

LEGALLY BLONDE @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 7:00pm


Sound of Music @ Rhino Theatre, Pompton Lakes - 8:00pm

SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD @ Hamilton Stage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm

COMEDY


BOB SAGET @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Progressively Funny: John Fugelsang and Friends @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 8:00pm

Tracy Morgan: No Disrespect @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm


DANCE


two may be one, presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance @ Hearst Dance Theater at Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton University campus, Princeton - 8:30pm


FILM


Screening of William Greaves’ Nationtime—Gary, presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Visual Arts @ James Stewart Film Theater at 185 Nassau Street on the Princeton University campus, Princeton - 6:00pm


POETRY


Open Book III - Poetry & Perform - FREE @ Bluefox Craft Beer & Restaurant, South Plainfield - 7:00pm

View all events













 



 

<

 






 






 



 











New Jersey Stage © 2020 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.