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New Development Director

New Development Director Grand Rapids Ballet Michigan

We’re happy to announce Elizabeth McCarthy Musil as been appointed our new Director of Development. Elizabeth will join us February 19, 2018 to lead fundraising efforts and mission advancement of the 47-year-old institution.

Elizabeth comes to us from Disability Advocates of Kent County where she served as Development Director since 2015. There she provided leadership and management of mission advancement and philanthropic giving.  As a member of the senior leadership team she shared in responsibilities of the organization’s strategic initiatives and community engagement.  Prior to her tenure at Disability Advocates, she held previous development roles in arts and culture organizations including Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and Gilda’s LaughFest.

“I am thrilled and honored to join one of the greatest performing arts institutions in Michigan,” said Musil. “It is a privilege to work with staff and stakeholders to further enrich the Grand Rapids Ballet’s outstanding reputation and support in our community through sharing the joy of beauty and creative expression through dance and incredible performances with lasting social impact.”

Elizabeth is from Grand Rapids, Michigan and earned her B.A. in Communications from Grand Valley State University. She is a member of Association of Fundraising Professionals, The Economic Club of Grand Rapids, GVSU Women’s Center Advisory Council, and Inforum.

Welcome, Elizabeth!

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MOVEMEDIA: Diversity I—Meet the Choreographers

Diversity Grand Rapids Ballet Michigan

MOVEMEDIA: Diversity I

February 9-11, 2018  |  Peter Martin Wege Theatre

Diversity is a hot topic right now—and for very good reasons. As the world becomes more inclusive, it’s important that these changes are reflected and celebrated by the arts and culture around us.

That’s why the next two installments of our contemporary dance series, MOVEMEDIA, will focus on the topic of diversity in its many different forms and interpretations.

The brainchild of creative director, Michael Auer, MOVEMEDIA: Diversity brings together choreographers from all over the globe and from every facet of society to create very personal world-premiere works on the issues of diversity which speak to them most. Hear more from Michael below, along with company dancers Yuka Oba and Ednis Gomez, on why the time was right to tackle this topic through the beauty of dance.  Thank you, Feel Like You Belong, for the video.

“We felt that the time was right to address the issue of diversity. We wanted to provide a platform for choreographers to express their view of what diversity means to them.”  —Michael Auer, Grand Rapids Ballet Creative Director

The first installment of MOVEMEDIA: Diversity will take place February 9-11 and Peter Martin Wege Theatre. This show will include three individual pieces in one spectacular performance. Let’s meet the choreographers and learn a little more about their works.


Diversity Grand Rapids Ballet Michigan

Jennifer is the founder and Artistic Director of the Arch Dance Company and Program Director of ArchCore40 Dance Intensives.  She is a graduate of The Alvin Ailey School and the Maggie Flanigan Acting Conservatory where she studied the Meisner Technique.   Archibald has choreographed for the Atlanta Ballet, Ailey II, Cincinnati Ballet, Ballet Memphis, Kansas City Ballet, Tulsa Ballet II, Ballet Nashville; and worked commercially for Tommy Hilfiger, NIKE and MAC Cosmetics as well as chart-listed singers and actors. She was recently appointed as the first female Resident Choreographer in Cincinnati Ballet’s 40-year history. In 2018, she will be creating new works for Cincinnati Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, Ballet Nashville and Stockholm’s Balletakademien next season.

Archibald’s works have been performed at venues including New York’s City Center, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Aaron Davis Hall, Jacob’s Pillow Inside|Out Stage and Central Park’s Summerstage Mainstage. Jennifer was awarded a Choreographic Fellow for Ailey’s New Directions Choreography Labunder the direction of Robert Battle.  She is 2015′s Choreographic Winnings recipient by the Joffrey Ballet. She also choreographed “Seven”, a biographical work about Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, commissioned by St. Louis based MADCODance Company.  Her new work “Delilah” is currently touring Scandinavia. Arch Dance Company’s “Chasing Shadows” will be remounted for Dallas Black Dance Theater for their 2018/19 season. Jennifer is currently an Acting Lecturer at the Yale School of Drama.

In 2015, she was appointed as Guest Faculty Lecturer to develop the Hip Hop dance curriculum at Columbia/Barnard College. Jennifer is also a guest artist at several universities including Fordham/Ailey, Purchase College, Princeton, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of South Florida, Goucher College, Columbia College Chicago, and Bates College. In 2017, she premiered new works for Miami New World School of the Arts, South Carolina’s Governor’s School of the Arts, Ailey Fordham, Boston Conservatory, and Point Park. Internationally, she has taught master classes in Brazil, Bermuda, Canada, Italy, Slovenia, Sweden, France, Russia, Mexico, China, and Ecuador.

Her piece is entitled Vapor and in her own words:

Each of us interprets and negotiates the world around us through the lens of our own identity, culture, and experience. Today’s diversity should speak to individuality, for it is the individual that makes up the grassroots foundation of a society. People should be encouraged to recognize, explore, and cultivate their individual qualities. This work is designed to process a greater sense of self-awareness needed to succeed in our diverse and complex society; cultivating movement that explores on-going physical negotiation amongst the dancers. We must train ourselves in acceptance every day. Through acceptance the dancers will open up an infinite inner space. I like to enter the rehearsal space guided by the words of Nelson Mandela: ‘It is for us to adapt our understanding of a common humanity; to learn of the richness of how human life is diverse; to recognize the presence of disability in our human midst as an enrichment of our diversity.’

Jennifer working in the studio with dancers (from left to right) Isaac Aoki, Mari Beer, Ednis Gomez, and Claire Ashcraft.


Diversity Grand Rapids Ballet

Born in the Philippines, Norbert is a NYC and LA-based freelance contemporary dance choreographer and educator.  Since receiving his BFA from the Juilliard School in 2010, he has been commissioned by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Tulsa Ballet II, Barak Ballet, Hubbard Street II, James Sewell Ballet, Attack Theatre, Ballet X, and Grand Rapids Ballet.  De La Cruz has been awarded fellowships from the Jerome Robbins NEW foundation, the Princess Grace Awards – USA, The Jerome Foundation, The Wolf Trap Foundation, and the Commissioning Choreographers Campaign.  

He has been selected for professional development programs such as the NY Choreographic institute (an affiliate of the NYCB), the National Choreographers Initiative (Irvine, CA), Hubbard Street’s National Choreographic Competition (Chicago), Joffrey Academy of Dance Winning Works (Chicago), Alvin Ailey New Directions Choreography Lab (NY).

His work has been presented by the Joyce Theatre (NY), Wolf Trap (VA), Ailey CitiGroup Theatre (NY), Martha Knoebel Dance Theatre (CA), Peter Jay Sharp Theatre (NY), Blanch Touhill Performing Arts Center (MO), Aspen District Theatre (CO), Lensic Performing Arts Center (NM), Wallis Annenberg (CA), Kelly Strayhorn Theatre (PA), the Broadway Playhouse (IL), Irvine Barclay Theatre (CA), and McCallum Theatre (CA). In teaching and choreography, his credentials include The Juilliard School Summer, Ailey/Fordham University, Princeton University Ballet, University of Hartford Dance Division, The University of Richmond Department of Theatre and Dance, SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance, Marymount Manhattan College, NJ Performing Arts Center, Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Ramon C. Cortines Visual and Performing Arts High School, Windward School for the Arts, Westside Dance Project, Hawkins School for the Arts, Charles Maple Youth Conservatory, and No.OneArthouse. He conducts seasonal workshops and projects in both New York City and Los Angeles. 

Additional honorable mentions include the Asian Arts Alliance Jadin Wong Award, McCallum Theatre Choreography Festival, and Dance Magazines Top 25 to watch in 2016.  Working as a freelancer, Norbert is currently pursuing his MFA in dance at Hollins University Graduate Program. 

Norbert’s work is entitled The Return of Balance:

In this piece, I want to explore diversity by destabilizing the relational aspects of heteronormative pairings. Set to a cinematic, ambient, and emotionally charged score, the energy and content of the dance is a result of a collective creative studio process. I hope to interrogate the arising tensions of our relationships, its proximity effects, and the balance and/or symmetry that is desired and physicalized between those bodies. The 14-minute contemporary work hopes to reflect on heteronormative codes.

Norbert has videos of his piece on Instagram you can check out here.


Diversity Grand Rapids Ballet Michigan

Loughlan is an Aussie/Kiwi choreographer and performer based in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. He is the choreographer in residence at the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and the creative director of Prior Visual, a project based  film collective.

A graduate of the New Zealand School of Dance, his choreographic work began as early as his first school years where he received the Warrandyte Youth Arts Award. He joined the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2010, and in 2015 was awarded the prestigious Harry Haythorne Choreographic Award by the Ballet Foundation of New Zealand.

In 2016 Loughlan received the Tup Lang Choreographic Award from Creative New Zealand for his work as a unique artistic voice and was made choreographer in residence in 2018, under the directorship of Patricia Barker. He is invested in producing theatre, film and multi-media projects with his work currently receiving premieres in New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong and the United States.

His ballets have been described by the New Zealand Herald as ‘dance that uses extreme geometries, innovative partnering, elegance and refinement’. His works for the Royal New Zealand Ballet include Diminished Illusions, EVE, The Long and the Short of it, LARK, Ideale and Between-Us. In 2018 he created a short film for the Royal New Zealand Ballet and Te Papa (New Zealand’s National Museum) to launch the new National Gallery Toi Art Collection.

Prior maintains a strong bond with the New Zealand School of Dance where he has been invited to create three works for student casts – Verse, FirstLight and Curious Alchemy. FirstLight made it’s premiere in 2014 at the closing gala of the Asian Grand Prix in Hong Kong, while Curious Alchemy premiered in 2017 at Toronto’s Assemblée Internationale, and later at the School’s 50th Anniversary Celebration programme.

Loughlan’s piece is entitled They/Them and explores the topic of gender neutrality:

Gender expression and the debate to use gender neutral language is an ongoing and multilayered issue. Our social landscape, as it has developed over thousands of years, is fixated on binary paradigms and exists under an outdated ideology. Tradition dictates the portrayal of gender and gender identity in ballet dancers as almost always exclusive to male and female partnerships and strict gender-specific roles. This work aims to present gender identity as a fluid construct highlighting the importance of the individual as a neutral entity undefined by gender or physical form. Are traditional gender constructs holding us back, and would adopting a gender fluid, non-binary ideology help to decrease trans issues and gender inequality? Are we more than the sum of our parts? 

Diversity Grand Rapids Ballet Michigan

Gender neutral costumes for They/Them by William Fitzgerald. From left to right: Cassidy Isaacson, Mari Beer, Sidney Scully, Matt Wenckowski, Nigel Tau, Isaac Aoki, Yuka Oba, and Ednis Gomez.

“I want them to walk away with something. A thought, an emotion, a topic–and I want to have choreographers rethink what it is that they’re creating. I want the audience to be touched somehow.” —Michael Auer, Grand Rapids Ballet Creative Director

This will be a thought-provoking show that will have you talking for days. Be a part of the discussion and get your tickets today! Call 616.454.4771 x17 and speak to Kelly our box office manager or visit grballet.com/diversity.

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Grand Rapids Ballet Announces New Artistic Director

Search Committee Co-Chairs Dana Baldwin and Leah Voigt announced today the appointment of James Sofranko as the new Artistic Director of Michigan’s only professional ballet company.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, staff, and dancers of Grand Rapids Ballet, we are excited to welcome James Sofranko to Grand Rapids. He is a true star and brings a passion for dance along with the sophistication, grace, and knowledge required for this leadership position. We expect great things as we move forward in an incredibe new era of the Company’s history,” said Grand Rapids Ballet Artistic Director Search Committee Co-Chairs Dana Baldwin and Leah Voigt.



James Sofranko

Sofranko, who is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, received his dance training at The Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, Florida, and The Juilliard School in New York City, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. Upon graduation in 2000, he joined San Francisco Ballet and was promoted to soloist in 2007.

“James is an intelligent, thoughtful, and versatile dancer who has dedicated so much to the Company over the last 18 seasons. He has also made a lasting impact on the Bay Area dance community through performances he has produced himself. With his vision, I have no doubt that he will bring Grand Rapids Ballet to new heights, and I wish him all the best on this exciting new chapter. We will miss him.”  San Francisco Ballet Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson.

James Sofranko

James Sofranko (© Erik Tomasson)

Sofranko will be responsible for all artistic direction and artistic planning including programming and hiring of dancers and choreographers, production staff, touring, and outreach efforts. He plans to choreograph new works for Grand Rapids Ballet as well as hire outside choreographers. He is eager to build upon the reputation left by outgoing Artistic Director Patricia Barker as a company that presents new works while continuing to present established works from the world’s most respected choreographers, in both classical and contemporary styles.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to lead Grand Rapids Ballet into their next chapter.  Upon my visits, I was impressed with the dancers, the board, the staff, and the city of Grand Rapids.  The company works easily in both contemporary and classical styles, which makes them a natural fit for me.  I’m excited to begin working to continue to bring great dance to the city of Grand Rapids, as well as to continue my growth as a choreographer.”

James Sofranko in Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy.
(© Erik Tomasson)

Sofranko’s last performance as a dancer with San Francisco Ballet will take place during the Company’s Unbound Festival, in May 2018. He will officially join Grand Rapids Ballet on July 1, 2018. In the meantime, he will play an important role in the development of 2018-2019 season programming to be announced in early Spring 2018.


A dancer for the past 18 years at San Francisco Ballet, Sofranko has danced in numerous works and world premieres by choreographers such as Helgi Tomasson, Val Caniparoli, William Forsythe, Liam Scarlett, Justin Peck, Alexei Ratmansky, Edwaard Liang, Lar Lubovitch, Wayne McGregor, Mark Morris, Julia Adam, Yuri Possokhov, Christopher Wheeldon, Paul Taylor, Arthur Pita, Stanton Welch, Jorma Elo, Hans Van Manen, Jiri Kylian, John Neumeier, James Kudelka, Lila York, Kenneth Macmillan, George Balanchine, and Jerome Robbins. Some of his favorite roles include ‘Mercutio’ in Tomasson’s Romeo and Juliet, ‘Eros’ in Mark Morris’ Sylvia, ‘Bugle Boy’ in Taylor’s Company B, and the second sailor in Robbins’ Fancy Free.

He received an Isadora Duncan award (“Izzie”) for Best Performance in 2011 in Yuri Possokhov’s Classical Symphony.

James was featured in the principal role of ‘Eddie’ in the Broadway touring company of Movin’ Out, a musical choreographed by Twyla Tharp to the songs of Billy Joel.

In 2012, Sofranko co-founded DanceFAR (Dance For A Reason), an annual benefit performance and after-party that brings the Bay Area dance community together to support the work of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC). In 2014, he received the Inspiration Award from CPIC. To date, DanceFAR has raised over $450,000 in support of their programs and initiatives to prevent cancer.

In 2014, Sofranko formed a new contemporary repertory company in San Francisco, SFDanceworks. The first two seasons have played to sold out houses and the company has presented works by Alejandro Cerrudo, Lar Lubovitch, José Limón, and world premieres by Penny Saunders, James Graham, Danielle Rowe, Dana Genshaft, and James Sofranko.

Sofranko has also created many original choreographic works, including two for the San Francisco Ballet School Trainee program, SFDanceworks, Long Beach Ballet, and Marin Dance Theater.  James also works as a repetiteur for Yuri Possokhov, resident choreographer for San Francisco Ballet, and has staged his ballets on Cincinnati Ballet, Colorado Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet.

Along with his duties to Grand Rapids Ballet, Sofranko will continue to develop SFDanceworks, currently presenting a San Francisco season every summer. (Season Three is June 8-10, 2018 at the Cowell Theater). Dance For A Reason (DanceFAR) is an event and a cause (cancer prevention) that Sofranko strongly believes in and hopes will continue. Discussions are ongoing regarding the future of DanceFAR.


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The Benefits of Ballet for Children

youth ballet classes kids children grand rapids michiganThe Benefits of Youth Ballet for Children

Originally published by Child Development Institute

When it comes to their kids, parents want them to have the best. Exposure to things like sports and the arts help them to become more well rounded young men and women. Have you thought about ballet?   Kids are into all sorts of after-school sports and other activities like piano and violin lessons. Dancing is a great medium for both girls and boys. And, they can start young.  Classical ballet may have been pushed aside in favor of tap dancing, hip-hop, jazz and other forms. But, did you know that beginning with ballet will help with these other types of dancing? That is just one little secret we’re letting you in on.  Ballet dancers make it look effortless as they move across the stage. From the lifts to the toe points, many wonder how they can do it. Your kids can also be a part of this through the practice of classical ballet.  Ballet classes can start for young kids around ages four and five. For them, being in front of all those mirrors and the bar is something new and exciting.  Some of the benefits of ballet for young kids are:

  • They learn to follow instructions
  • They gain a sense of discipline through learning new positions
  • They learn co-ordination, balance and how to control their bodies in motion
  • They are active and getting daily exercise
  • They become comfortable performing before groups

When a child is young, learning new things is easier for them. They can adapt and learn more quickly than when they are older. So, once a child begins in ballet at an early age, they are not only learning a valued art form but also getting trained for the life that is ahead of them.  This is just the beginning, though. As a child continues to pursue ballet, youíll see more benefits emerging – especially when they become adolescents and into the teenage years.

  • They develop long and strong muscles from the practice of ballet
  • They gain a sense of self-confidence and pride in their bodies and what they can accomplish
  • They learn how to work to get what they want out of their performance
  • The skills learned in ballet are useful for other forms of dancing like tap or jazz if they want to take that up later
  • They learn about proper nutrition to keep their bodies in shape so they can dance

Maybe you’ve never considered ballet as an after-school activity before. Now that you are aware of some of the wonderful benefits of this form of dance you have another option for your children. Who knows, one day they could be dancing across stages all over the country and beyond.

To learn more about ballet classes at Grand Rapids Ballet School, call 616.454.4771 x17 or email us today!

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Farewell Dawnell

dawnell dryja grand rapids ballet michigan

Farewell, Dawnell

Dawnell Dryja—long-time company member and audience favorite—announced her retirement from the stage will occur during the Grand Rapids Ballet’s 16th season. She will dance in the first show of the 2017-18 season only (From Russia with Love) and continue to be involved at GRB in her new role as artistic coordinator.

“Dawnell will be missed from our stage, but not from our hearts or the joyful memories we have of her wonderful performances,” said GRB Artistic Director Patricia Barker.

Ms. Dryja was born and raised in Canton, Michigan and formally trained under her mother, Dawn Greene, the owner and artistic director of Grosse Ile Academy of Dance. She also studied at the School of Ballet Chicago, Cleveland Ballet School, and Milwaukee Ballet School—all on scholarship. Prior to joining GRB, she danced with Tulsa Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Dayton Ballet, and Metropolitan Ballet Theatre of Detroit. She is proficient in ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, and modern dance.

“The time that I have spent at GRB have been some of the most rewarding of my life—both personally and professionally,” said Dryja. “I will always remember my time dancing here with great fondness. The timing of my retirement aligns perfectly my new role as artistic coordinator working with Patricia Barker on the 2017-18 season and with the new artistic director on upcoming seasons.”


Her repertoire includes many leading roles from the classics to contemporary masterpieces, including Swan Lake, Giselle, Coppelia, Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Where The Wild Things Are, Dracula, Red Angels, Rapture, Celts, Fingerprints, Jewels, Serenade, Who Cares?, Allegro Brilliante, Concerto Barocco, Slaughter On Tenth Avenue, Con Amore, and Il Distratto. She has worked with esteemed choreographers such as Nils Christe, Frederick Franklin, Kirk Peterson, Val Caniparoli, Suzanne Ferrell, Mario Radacovsky, Gordon Peirce Schmidt, Bruce Wells, Stanton Welch and Raymond Lukens.

“Dawnell came into my life as a bright light when she danced in the opening night of my production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ for Detroit Ballet,” said choreographer Bruce Wells. “We would reunite again at GRB when she danced the role of Fairy Godmother in the world premiere of my production of ‘Cinderella.’ From the first rehearsals to the last, Dawnell and I had a sincere, unique connection and immediate respect for one another. She’s a consummate professional with an amazing career.”

Her final performances as a GRB company member will take place over the run of the first show of the 2017-18 season, From Russia with Love. Performance dates are:

  • Friday, October 6 at 7:30pm
  • Saturday, October 7 at 7:30pm
  • Sunday, October 8 at 2pm
  • Friday, October 13 at 7:30pm

There will also be a special performance for friends and family on Saturday, October 14 entitled From Dawnell with Love. This production will feature highlights from some of her favorite works, including a dance with retired GRB dancer (and current Grand Rapids Ballet School Director and Junior Company Artistic Director), Attila Mosolygo. At this time, tickets to the 10/14/17
performance are not available to the general public.

She is also the owner and artistic director of Academy of Dance Arts. She is married to Bryce Black and the couple have one daughter, Tevyn, who has inherited her mother’s love of dance and performing.

You can also read a lovely interview with Dawnell in the September issue of Women’s Lifestyle Magazine

Don’t miss her final performances! Get your tickets to From Russia with Love here today .

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Grand Rapids Ballet School bringing classes to Holland

kid youth ballet classes holland michigan
holland michigan ballet classes
HOLLAND, MI (WHTC-AM/FM) – Grand Rapids Ballet School will be holding classes at the Holland Area Arts Council starting in September.

A partnership with the Arts Council through the years with the the school’s performance of the Nutcracker Ballet and the “tea party with Clara” event every December prompted the expansion. Their was just a great interest in the December event that the school decided to bring their faculty to Holland.  The classes will give kids ages 3-9 years old a chance to learn ballet. The school will also hold classes for those with Down Syndrome and Parkinson’s disease as well.

Attila Mosolygo is the Director and Principal of Grand Rapids School of Ballet (GRBS) and says he believes strongly that  dance plays an important role in the healthy development of your child’s focus, coordination, discipline, and etiquette. Mosolygo starting training in Hungary and by the time he was 12-year-old knew he would be dancing. After moving to America he studied at the Joffrey Ballet and an audition with the Grand Rapids Ballet led him to Michigan.

Mosolygo says the classes for Down Syndrome students first started in Grand Rapids and the results were fantastic.

“To be able to offer a dance class to every child you know regardless of their ability, age or body type is fantastic and to be able to enrich lives of young kids.The first thing I thought was if we’re going to try to bring this program out to the Holland community, I want to make sure people are aware of it. We connected with the director of The Commons of Evergreen. It’s been long proven that dance is one of the best things you can do when you have Parkinson’s. The class is very physical and active. but we can adapt the class to everyone’s need.” 

In an effort to make sure they can fill the classes, you are asked to register as soon as possible so that the school has an idea of how nany students they will be training.

Classes start on Monday September 11 and will run until Monday, May 7, 2018. Ballet classes are available for children 3-4 and 7-9 and children with Down syndrome age 5 and up, and do not require prior dance or ballet experience.

Creative Dance

  • Ages: 3-5
  • Day/time: Monday 4:15-5pm
  • Cost: $380 per school year, $205 per semester ($410 total),  $49 per month ($441 total)
  • Dress code Girls: soft pink leotard, soft pink tights, and pink ballet shoes.   Boys: black ballet tights or black leggings, black ballet shoes, plain white fitted t-shirt.

Beginner Ballet

  • Ages:6-9
  • Day/time: Monday 5-6pm
  • Cost: $435 per school year,  $235 per semester ($470 total), $58 per month ($504 total)
  • Dress code: Girls: lavender leotard, soft pink tights, and pink ballet shoes.  Boys: black ballet tights or black leggings, black ballet shoes, plain white fitted t-shirt.

Explorer Dance for Down Syndrome

  • Ages: 5 and up
  • Day/time: Wednesday 5:30-6:15pm
  • Cost:  $162 per school year, $90 per semester ($180 total), $22 per month ($198 total)

Moving with Parkinson’s

  • Ages: 50 and up and their care partners of any age
  • Day/time: Monday 11:15am-12pm
  • Cost: $3 for Evergreen Commons members / $5 for non-members.
  • Dress code: loose, comfortable clothing

Holland Area Arts Council is located at in downtown at 150 East 8th Street, Holland, Michigan 49423. Evergreen Commons is located at 480 State Street, Holland, Michigan 49423. For more information on all the GRBS classes offered in Holland, including schedules, costs, directions, enrollment, and financial aid, please visit grballet.com/holland, email school@grballet.com, or call 616.454.4771 x17.

Celebrating its 47th anniversary, Grand Rapids Ballet will kick off the 2017-2018 seasons with From Russia with Love. Performances are October 6-8 & 13, 2017 at the Peter Martin Wege Theatre. 

The GRBS remains committed to lifting the human spirit through the art of dance under the leadership of Patricia Barker as artistic director, Glenn Del Vecchio as executive director, and Attila Mosolygo as school director. A proud recipient of the ArtServe Michigan Governor’s Arts Award for Outstanding Cultural Organization, Michigan’s only professional ballet company has a rich history marked by steady growth, a commitment to excellence, and strong community support. In addition,

Grand Rapids Ballet School provides over 200 students with the highest quality dance instruction in a nurturing and encouraging environment and the opportunity to perform in productions by Grand Rapids Junior Company. Keep up with the ballet on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

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Grand Rapids Ballet introduces cultured.GR members to adult classes

grand rapids ballet michigan adult classes

Adult Ballet Classes: The Grand Rapids Ballet offers ballet classes for those with or without experience. Our members got an introduction to those classes Tuesday night—and left inspired, exhilarated, and well… wobbly.

cultured.GR members had an introductory ballet class with the Grand Rapids Ballet School Director & Junior Company Artistic Director, Attila Mosolygo. Image credit Eric Bouwens.

Along with classes for adorable little kids at the Grand Rapids Ballet (GRB), there are also adult ballet classes on offer, whether you have any experience in ballet or not. Classes are held on a weekly basis, and the first class is free for those interested in trying it out. At just $15 per class and even less when purchasing a 10-class punch card, the price is comparable to other exercise classes like yoga or aerobics, and doesn’t require special equipment to participate. All that’s needed are comfortable clothes to move in and a pair of socks.

All images credit Eric Bouwens.

Our cultured.GR members were invited to a special introductory ballet class just for us, with the school director Attila Mosolygo guiding us through what we would experience in a regular class, from bar exercises to jumps to stretches.

Mosolygo, who has been with GRB for 25 years, doesn’t normally teach these classes, so it was a very special introduction. “When I started with the Grand Rapids Ballet, we had six dancers in the company,” Mosolygo revealed, showing just how much the organization has grown over the years. The company now includes over 30 dancers, apprentices, and trainees.

We found out after the class that cultured.GR member Victoria Upton had spent her morning receiving chemo. Image credit Eric Bouwens.
Paula Manni (directly behind Attila Mosolygo) was one member who had taken ballet as a child and is now inspired to get back into it. Image courtesy Johannah Jelks.
cultured.GR member Erica Monroe

Some of our members had grown up doing ballet, and others had not taken a single dance class in their lives. Whatever the experience level, the ballet class proved to be an incredibly strenuous—and incredibly peaceful and inspiring—experience. This is no easy sport. This is perhaps the most serious workout that many of us had ever experienced. Mosolygo explained to our group that both boxers and football players are known for taking ballet for the benefits it brings to them for both protecting against injury and improving their abilities in their primary sport.

We don’t think anyone in our group sustained any injuries either (we’ll let you know in the morning), though jokes were made about the difficulty in walking at a fast pace, navigating steps, and just plain standing up without buckling.

All the same, many of us are excited to come back for more now that we’ve had a taste of what’s available for adults at Grand Rapids Ballet.

Grand Rapids Ballet Adult Classes

341 Ellsworth Ave SW, Downtown Grand Rapids
Intermediate (2–3 years of prior ballet experience recommended)
● Tuesdays, 6:30–7:45 p.m.
● Wednesdays, 6:30–7:45 p.m.
● Thursdays, 6:30–7:45 p.m.
• Per class: $15 (first class is FREE)
• 10-class punch card : $130 (save $20)
• Discounted prices for students, seniors, and season ticket holders.

Classes begin August 22
Information about classes available online.

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The Search is On for a New Artistic Director

Grand Rapids Ballet Search New Artistic Director Michigan

Grand Rapids Ballet (GRB) announced today that they are formally beginning a search for a new artistic director for Michigan’s only professional ballet company. Current artistic director, Patricia Barker, announced in June that she accepted the artistic director appointment at Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB). Barker has been in this position with GRB since 2010, and will split her time between GRB and RNZB until the end of the 2017-18 season.

“We have already had a lot of Interest in this position,” said Glenn Del Vecchio, GRB Executive Director. “Patricia’s artistic vision and the success of the company have made GRB a highly respected dance organization. We will find an excellent candidate to continue the artistic excellence Patricia began and our patrons expect.”

A search committee has been formed within GRB that includes current board members, company dancers, and community leaders.  Applications will be accepted August 15 through September 15, 2017. Interviews will begin in early October with a final decision being made by early December 2017.

A complete job description and details on how to apply can be found at grballet.com/ADsearch. No phone calls, please.

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Grand Rapids Ballet Announces Artistic Director Search

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It was announced today that the board of directors of Grand Rapids Ballet (GRB)—Michigan’s only professional ballet company—is in the beginning phase of forming a search committee to field leads, identify qualified

candidates, and interview and select a new artistic director. This is in response to the news that Patricia Barker, the company’s artistic director since 2010, has accepted the position of artistic director of Royal New Zealand Ballet.

“We are thrilled for Patricia,” said GRB board of directors’ president Michael P. Kling. “The indelible mark she has left on GRB and the arts in general in West Michigan is beyond compare and her new position is a testament to her skills as an artistic director. Our top priority right now is ensuring the sustained success of GRB.”

In order to ensure a seamless transition, Patricia and the Board have expanded Attila Mosolygo’s role to director of Grand Rapids Ballet School (GRBS), a role formerly filled by Patricia. Mosolygo, who retired from dancing at GRB in 2013 after 16 years, will oversee the administration, curriculum, and creative vision of GRBS which currently enrolls over 250 ballet students. Mosolygo will also continue as director of GRBS’s Junior Company and as a GRB ballet master.

“There’s no greater joy than helping a student with a passion for dance reach his or her full potential, so it’s an incredible honor to know that the board of directors has the confidence in me to fill the big pointe shoes left behind by Patricia,” said Mosolygo. “My 21-year history with GRB will serve me well as we move into this exciting new chapter and I’m eager to continue to bring the level of excellence to the school that the students and their parents deserve and have come to expect.”

Barker will split her time during the 2017-18 season between GRB and her new role as artistic director for Royal New Zealand Ballet. Accordingly, other organizational changes are being implemented for the upcoming 2017-18 season. Dawnell Dryja, a GRB company dancer since 2002, is being named artistic coordinator, and Nicholas Schultz, Laura McQueen-Schultz, and Steven Houser are being elevated to the position of interim ballet masters in addition to company dancers.

“I’ll never forget my years at GRB—they were very special to me and I’m extremely proud of what we accomplished,” said Barker. “I have the utmost confidence in the team to keep the company headed in the right direction and these staff changes will make sure everything goes smoothly as GRB starts a new chapter.”

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Patricia Barker named Artistic Director of Royal New Zealand Ballet

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Originally published on Cultured.GR by Steve Sucato

After seven years with the Grand Rapids Ballet, Barker is taking on a new adventure on the other side of the globe.

Patricia Barker (front) with her Grand Rapids Ballet dance troupe. Image courtesy Grand Rapids Ballet.

Former Pacific Northwest Ballet star and current artistic director of Grand Rapids Ballet (GRB), Patricia Barker, will become the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB)’s twelfth artistic director and only the second female director in its 64-year history. She takes over from current RNZB artistic director Francesco Ventriglia on June 19, 2017. Ventriglia will stay on as a choreographer for the company.

Barker says the application process involved her submitting a strategic overview with a sample production plan. She met with RNZB’s search committee via video conference calls and spent three days at the company’s home in Wellington where, in addition to meeting and talking with the organization’s board and staff ─ including fellow American executive director Frances Turner ─ she had a question and answer session with RNZB’s dancers.

“It’s exciting: they have an excellent reputation, wonderful reviews, and a great spirit and energy in the studio,” says Barker.

According to Barker, RNZB was looking for a unique identity for their 36-member company and she feels she can create that for them.

“All the works I did at Grand Rapids Ballet definitely gave us a unique identity. I look at each transition as an exciting change, building on an organization’s successes that came before while looking toward the future,” says Barker. “We did that in Grand Rapids and I think I can do that here.”

With a 13 million dollar budget and a history of international touring, Barker says she is ready to apply what she has learned in her career at Pacific Northwest Ballet, as a dancewear entrepreneur, and at Grand Rapids Ballet to moving RNZB forward.

Patricia Barker has been at the Grand Rapids ballet for seven years. Image courtesy Grand Rapids Ballet.

With their 2018 season already set, Barker says she will be initially working on programming for 2019 as well as getting to know the dancers and the organization. With that advanced planning in place along with seasonal differences in when RNZB performs, it will allow Barker to also stay on as artistic director at Grand Rapids Ballet during the coming 2017–18 season.

“It’s nice because their [New Zealand’s] summer is our winter and there will be opposite weeks of work,” says Barker. “I can do a lot remotely and be in Grand Rapids for the opening of productions.” She also says she still plans on staging a few ballets on the company.

GRB’s 2017–18 season, which includes “From Russia With Love,” which is a program of highlights from “Sleeping Beauty,” “Swan Lake,” “Giselle,” “Esmeralda,” and “Don Quixote;” their annual “The Nutcracker” production re-imagined by “Polar Express” author Chris Van Allsburg; two repertory programs celebrating diversity with world-premiere works by some of today’s most influential choreographers; and the world-premiere of choreographer Penny Saunders’ Oscar Wilde inspired ballet “The Happy Prince and other Wilde Tales,” will now act as a farewell celebration of Barker’s seven years with the GRB, taking it from a relatively unknown regional troupe to one with a national presence.

“I am an adventurous individual with one more adventure in me,” says 54-year-old Barker on moving to the other side of the world. “I am so proud of what we created at Grand Rapids Ballet, the platform for choreographers, especially women choreographers. And the prolific amount of works we have done has been incredible. Also, the development of talent, including local talent, has been wonderful to be a part of. The fun thing about going somewhere else is bringing all that I have learned and experienced here and applying it there.”