Top row Jenelle Figgins (photo by Jefry Andres Wright), Da’Von Doane (photo by Rachel Neville), Bottom row Gillian Murphy (photo by Harald Schrader), James Whiteside (photo by Emil Cohen)
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- American Repertory Ballet will host its annual fundraiser - a James Bond-themed "Gala Royale"- featuring a festive mix of world premieres, spectacular dancing, and casino excitement on Friday, June 9, 2023 at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center. All proceeds from this fundraiser support the organization's artistic, educational, and community engagement programs, including over $250,000 in merit and need-based scholarships awarded to students each year.
Sponsors will enjoy a VIP Reception with ARB Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel and Gala Honorees. The organization will celebrate The Curtis W. McGraw Foundation for their outstanding and longtime support of the arts, and Princeton Ballet School Director Aydmara Cabrera, who will receive the Audrée Estey Award for Excellence in Dance Education.
The evening will feature can't-miss performances featuring ARB Artistic Associate Gillian Murphy and James Whiteside, American Ballet Theatre principal dancers, performing On the Water, a pas de deux choreographed by Whiteside to music from Franz Schubert. Two former Dance Theatre of Harlem leading artists, Da’Von Doane and Jenelle Figgins, will perform Blink, choreographed by Doane especially for this event.
The evening will spotlight American Repertory Ballet when it offers an exclusive sneak peek of excerpts from two brand new ballets; one created by Ethan Stiefel set to Brahms’ Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24, and one choreographed by Amy Seiwert with music by the Balanescu Quartet’s “Maria T” (an homage to the great Romanian singer Maria Tanase), as well as the company’s premiere of Arthur Mitchell’s classic Holberg Suite. These three works, in their entirety, will be presented on ARB’s Premiere3 program at the NBPAC, June 10-11.
Rounding out the evening will be students and Trainees from Princeton Ballet School, the official school of American Repertory Ballet, performing an excerpt from Cinderella.
Guests will also have the opportunity to support the organization at a live auction, presented by professional fundraiser and auctioneer Lucas Hunt, president of HUNT Philanthropy and a celebrated American poet.
Following the performance and live auction, Casino Royale inspired festivities will continue in the NBPAC lobby.
American Repertory Ballet’s Gala is generously sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The event is chaired by Ngoc Nguyen, member of the Board of Trustees. Committee members include Naomi Byank, Nancy MacMillan (Trustee), Pamela Mingle (Trustee), Beth Padron, Lisa Patterson, Rosella Porter, and Tricia Vera. ARB also appreciates support from Apotheosis Events by Ryan Hill.
The Curtis W. McGraw Foundation is a non-profit supporter of the arts, education, medical research and social services and has been a generous supporter of the Princeton Ballet Society (dba American Repertory Ballet and Princeton Ballet School) for over 50 years.
Aydmara Cabrera began her ballet studies at the age of nine at the National Ballet School in Havana and became a principal dancer at the National Ballet of Cuba , under the direction of Alicia Alonso. Ms. Cabrera’s professional dance experience includes international ballet festivals and worldwide tours, performing lead roles in all classical and contemporary ballets with the National Ballet of Cuba and Ballet Hispanico of New York. She studied with iconic teachers such as Alicia Alonso, Loipa Araujo, Josefina Mendez, Joaquin Banegas, and Ramona de Saa. In the course of her career, Ms. Cabrera partnered with some of the most famous male dancers of our time, including José Manuel Carreño, Carlos Acosta, Orlando Salgado, Lienz Chang, Jorge Vega and José Zamorano, before moving to the United States and directing her own school in Miami. Ms. Cabrera was appointed Director of Princeton Ballet School in 2018.
GUEST ARTIST BIOS
Da’Von Doane is a former leading dance artist with Dance Theatre of Harlem. He was featured as one of ‘Dance Magazine’s Top 25 to Watch’ in 2014 and in a Dance Web Series ‘For the Love of Dance’ with Sarita Lou. In 2017 he was featured in Dance Magazine as a standout performer in Robert Garland’s Brahms Variations and as a cover star in 2019. Doane is originally from Salisbury, Maryland, where he began his dance training at the Salisbury Dance Academy under the direction of Betty Webster, Tatiana Akinfieva-Smith, and Elena Manakhova. At age 15, he began training at the Atlantic Contemporary Ballet Theatre as a full-time academic student and remained there for four years. In 2012, Doane joined the newly reborn Dance Theatre of Harlem, was seen in Principal roles in Black Swan pas de deux staged by Anne Marie Holms, Raymonda Act III pas de deux, Dancing on The Front Porch of Heaven by Ulysses Dove, Balanchine’s Agon, Tchaikovsky pas de deux, Glinka pas de trois, and Valse Fantasie to name a few. As an independent artist, he has performed with numerous companies and worked with choreographers and festivals such as Ballet Noir, Classical Contemporary Ballet Theatre, Ballet Veritė, Ballet Chesapeake, Fire Island Dance Festival, Ballet Boy Productions, among others. Doane is pursuing his MFA in Dance at the University of the Arts where he hopes to build the foundations for his work as a choreographer and educator. ARB commissioned Doane to create a new work, Kaleidoscope Mind, in collaboration with visual artist Grace Lynne Haynes, which had its premiere in September 2022 as part of ARB’s Kaleidoscope program.
Jenelle Figgins is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher from Washington, DC. Figgins is an alum of Jones-Haywood School of Ballet, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and Dance Theatre of Harlem Kennedy Center Residency Program and Summer Intensive. Figgins received her BFA Cum Laude from SUNY Purchase Dance Conservatory in 2011 and continued her training at SpringBoard Danse Montreal. Figgins has performed for Collage Dance Collective, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Les Grands Ballet des Canadiens, and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and is currently dancing with Wideman Davis Dance for their site specific productions of Migratuse Ataraxia. Figgins has performed works by George Balanchine, Jiri Kilyian, Jorma Elo, Ulysses Dove, Alexander Ekman, Nicholo Fonte, Nacho Duato, and more. Jenelle recently participated in the historic production of Reframing the Narrative at the Kennedy Center dancing in a new ballet by Donald Byrd and under the direction of Theresa Howard. In 2022, Figgins was in the first class of choreographers for University of Utah Choreographic Institute Fellowship. Jenelle Figgins received the Princess Grace Award in 2014 and was named one of Dance Magazine’s ‘Top 25 To Watch’ in 2015. She was named a 2020 Aspen Hero by Theatre Aspen for leading the largest series of protests in Aspen, CO, advocating for the end of police brutality and racial equality. Jenelle hopes to inspire dancers and audiences toward their own human revolution through dance.
Gillian Murphy (Artistic Associate) is currently celebrating over twenty years as a principal ballerina with American Ballet Theatre (ABT), and her repertoire includes leading roles in all of ABT’s current full-length classics and in shorter works by luminary choreographers of the past and present. As a teenager, Murphy was awarded the Prix de Lausanne Espoir, and she joined American Ballet Theatre in 1996. After being honored with a Princess Grace Foundation Award, Gillian was promoted to Soloist in 1999 and to Principal Dancer in 2002. She starred as Odette/Odile in ABT’s PBS television production of Swan Lake and as Giselle in the New Zealand Film Commission’s movie of Stiefel and Johan Kobborg’s production of Giselle at the Royal New Zealand Ballet, where she was a Principal Guest Artist for three years. Murphy has danced as a guest artist throughout the world, performing with the Mariinsky Ballet, the Royal Swedish Ballet, the Staatsballett Berlin, the Kiev Ballet, the Australian Ballet, as a ballerina with the Metropolitan Opera, and in numerous other international engagements and galas. In recent years, she has received a Princess Grace Statue Award and an honorary doctorate from her high school alma mater, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. In 2018, Murphy graduated summa cum laude from St. Mary’s College of California with a Bachelor of Arts, and she completed the Harvard Business School’s Crossover into Business program.
James Whiteside is redefining the meaning of multihyphenate as a principal dancer and choreographer for the American Ballet Theater, hilarious pop music performer, drag queen, host of his own popular podcast Front Row with James Whiteside, and the author of Center Center. He began his ballet training at age nine at the D’Valda & Sirico Dance and Music Centre in Fairfield, CT. After completing his training, he was a principal dancer with Boston Ballet until 2012 and has been a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre since 2013, dancing principal roles in Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Romeo & Juliet, Giselle, and many more. Additionally, Whiteside has choreographed for pop stars Mariah Carey and Taylor Swift. He continues to choreograph for music videos, commercials, film, and ballet including New American Romance and City of Women for American Ballet Theatre and Marilyn’s Funeral for The Juilliard School. Off the ABT stage, Whiteside published his first book, Center Center: A Funny, Sexy, Sad Almost Memoir of a Boy in Ballet. He also performs pop music under the stage name JbDubs. He writes and produces his own music and choreographs his performances and music videos, which have viewership in the millions. Whiteside’s social media channels have nearly one million followers and his sponsorships include brands such as St. Germain, Sonos, Uber, and more. Whiteside has completed Harvard Business School’s Crossover Into Business program.
Led by Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel, with Artistic Associate Gillian Murphy, American Repertory Ballet (ARB) is New Jersey’s preeminent ballet company, presenting classical repertory alongside new and existing contemporary work. ARB is a founding resident company of the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center while also performing in major venues across New Jersey and beyond for an annual audience of more than 30,000. Founded in 1954 as the Princeton Ballet Society, ARB has been designated a “Major Arts Institution” by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts consistently for the past two decades and has repeatedly been awarded a Citation of Excellence by the Council. The company has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts and other major foundations and leaders in the field as a prominent force in the field of dance. Princeton Ballet School, ARB’s official school, attracts talent from around the world while providing opportunities for local students of all ages, such as through its award-winning DANCE POWER program.
ARB’s season continues with Premiere3 at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, June 10-11. The program features world premieres by Ethan Stiefel and Amy Seiwert, and the company premiere of Holberg Suite, choreographed by the legendary Arthur Mitchell. On Saturday, June 17, American Repertory Ballet joins the Grammy Award-winning Attacca quartet in a unique fusion of string instruments and dance as part of The Princeton Festival on the grounds of beautiful Morven Museum & Garden in Princeton, NJ.