In 2011 Michele Wiles and Charles Askegard, principal dancers respectively with American Ballet Theater (ABT) and the New York City Ballet, struck out on their own to form the innovative new dance company Ballet Next, beginning with a fall performance at Manhattan’s Joyce Theater. Called by the dance blog The Ballet Bag “one of the most interesting independent dance companies to emerge recently,” Ballet Next “aims to make ballet more accessible, investing in new works and audience engagement.” The troupe consists of current and former principal and solo dancers from ABT, New York City Ballet, and other major international companies, and performs both classic and contemporary works with live musical accompaniment (http://www.balletnext.com).
The Department of Dance will present two performances by Ballet Next on Saturday, April 20, at 7:00pm, and Sunday, April 21, at 2:00pm, in the Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater of Kenyon Hall. Both events are free and open to the public, but reservations are required and can be made via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Live music led by music director Elad Kabilio will accompany all the works in the program, which will include the contemporary pieces Picnic by Brian Reeder (inspired by Peter Weir's 1975 film Picnic at Hanging Rock), BachGround by Mauro Bigonzetti, and Stravinsky Divertimento by Charles Askegaard.
Funding for these performances is provided by the Jeanne Periolat Czula Fund, made possible by Jeffrey Paley and Valerie Ritter Paley '83, as well as the Jeanne Periolat Czula Endowment established by an anonymous alumna/us donor.
About the Artistic Directors
Michele Wiles joined American Ballet Theatre in 1998, was promoted to Soloist in 2000, and was a Principal Dancer from 2005 through 2011. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Wiles began her dance career at age eight. She trained with the Kirov Academy of Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, and The Royal Ballet before joining American Ballet Theatre's Studio Company (now ABT II) in 1997. In 1996, Wiles was a Gold Medal winner at the 18th International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria; a Bronze Medal winner in Nagoya, Japan; and a finalist at the Paris International Dance Competition. She was a Princess Grace Foundation-U.S.A. Dance Fellowship recipient for 1999–2000 and won the Erik Bruhn Prize in 2002.
Charles Askegard was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and began his dance training at the age of five with the Minnesota Dance Theatre. In 1987 at age 18 Askegard joined the corps of ABT and he was promoted to soloist in 1992. In 1997 he joined New York City Ballet where he served as Principal Dancer from 1998 until 2011. Askegard has been a guest performer for the Dutch National Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, Bavarian State Opera, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. He has appeared in several nationally televised events including the PBS Live from Lincoln Center broadcast, "New York City Ballet's Diamond Project: Ten Years of New Choreography" on PBS, as well as "Lincoln Center Celebrates Balanchine 100."
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