Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, George Balanchine (1904-1983) is regarded as the foremost contemporary choreographer in the world of ballet. He came to the United States in late 1933, at the age of 29, accepting the invitation of the young American arts patron Lincoln Kirstein (1907-96), whose great passions included the dream of creating a ballet company in America. At Balanchine's behest, Kirstein was also prepared to support the formation of an American academy of ballet that would eventually rival the long-established schools of Europe.
This was the School of American Ballet, founded in 1934, the first product of the Balanchine-Kirstein collaboration. Several ballet companies directed by the two were created and dissolved in the years that followed, while Balanchine found other outlets for his choreography. Eventually, with a performance on October 11, 1948, the New York City Ballet was born. Balanchine served as its ballet master and principal choreographer from 1948 until his death in 1983.
Balanchine's more than 400 dance works include Serenade (1934), Concerto Barocco (1941), Le Palais de Cristal, later renamed Symphony in C (1947), Orpheus (1948), The Nutcracker (1954), Agon (1957), Symphony in Three Movements (1972), Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1972), Vienna Waltzes (1977), Ballo della Regina (1978), and Mozartiana (1981). His final ballet, a new version of Stravinsky's Variations for Orchestra, was created in 1982.
He also choreographed for films, operas, revues, and musicals. Among his best-known dances for the stage is Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, originally created for Broadway's On Your Toes (1936). The musical was later made into a movie.
A major artistic figure of the twentieth century, Balanchine revolutionized the look of classical ballet. Taking classicism as his base, he heightened, quickened, expanded, streamlined, and even inverted the fundamentals of the 400-year-old language of academic dance. This had an inestimable influence on the growth of dance in America. Although at first his style seemed particularly suited to the energy and speed of American dancers, especially those he trained, his ballets are now performed by all the major classical ballet companies throughout the world.
Alexei Ratmansky was born in St. Petersburg and trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School in Moscow. His performing career included positions as principal dancer with Ukrainian National Ballet, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet. He has choreographed ballets for the Mariinsky Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, the Royal Swedish Ballet, Dutch National Ballet New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, The Australian Ballet, Kiev Ballet and the State Ballet of Georgia, as well as for Nina Ananiashvili, Diana Vishneva and Mikhail Baryshnikov. His 1998 work, Dreams of Japan, earned a prestigious Golden Mask Award by the Theatre Union of Russia. In 2005, he was awarded the Benois de la Danse prize for his choreography of Anna Karenina for the Royal Danish Ballet. He was made Knight of Dannebrog by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark in 2001.
Ratmansky was named artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet in January 2004. For the Bolshoi Ballet, he choreographed full-length productions of The Bright Stream (2003) and The Bolt (2005) and re-staged Le Corsaire (2007) and the Soviet-era Flames of Paris (2008). Under Ratmansky's direction, the Bolshoi Ballet was named "Best Foreign Company" in 2005 and 2007 by The Critics' Circle in London, and he received a Critics' Circle National Dance Award for The Bright Stream in 2006. In 2007, he won a Golden Mask Award for Best Choreographer for his production of Jeu de Cartes for the Bolshoi Ballet. In 2009, Ratmansky choreographed new dances for the Metropolitan Opera's production of Aida. Ratmansky joined American Ballet Theatre as Artist in Residence in January 2009.
For American Ballet Theatre, Ratmansky has choreographed On the Dnieper (2009), Seven Sonatas (2009), Waltz Masquerade, a ballet honoring Nina Ananiashvili's final season (2009), The Nutcracker (2010), The Bright Stream (2011), Dumbarton (2011), Firebird (2012), Symphony #9 (2012),Chamber Symphony (2013) and Piano Concerto #1 (2013).
Ratmansky was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow for 2013.
Since graduating from Barnard College in 1963, Ms. Tharp has choreographed more than one hundred sixty works: one hundred twenty-nine dances, twelve television specials, six Hollywood movies, four full-length ballets, four Broadway shows and two figure skating routines. She received one Tony Award, two Emmy Awards, nineteen honorary doctorates, the Vietnam Veterans of America President's Award, the 2004 National Medal of the Arts, the 2008 Jerome Robbins Prize, and a 2008 Kennedy Center Honor. Her many grants include the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
In 1965, Ms. Tharp founded her dance company, Twyla Tharp Dance. Her dances are known for creativity, wit and technical precision coupled with a streetwise nonchalance. By combining different forms of movement – such as jazz, ballet, boxing and inventions of her own making – Ms. Tharp’s work expands the boundaries of ballet and modern dance.
In addition to choreographing for her own company, she has created dances for The Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Paris Opera Ballet, The Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet, The Boston Ballet, The Australian Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Martha Graham Dance Company, Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Atlanta Ballet and Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Today, ballet and dance companies around the world continue to perform Ms. Tharp’s works.
Ms. Tharp's work first appeared on Broadway in 1980 with WHEN WE WERE VERY YOUNG, followed by her collaboration with musician David Byrne on THE CATHERINE WHEEL and later by SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN. In 2002, Ms. Tharp’s dance musical MOVIN' OUT, set to the music and lyrics of Billy Joel. Ms. Tharp later worked with Bob Dylan’s music and lyrics in THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’ and COME FLY AWAY, set to songs sung by Frank Sinatra.
In film, Ms. Tharp has collaborated with director Milos Forman on HAIR, RAGTIME and AMADEUS. She has also worked with Taylor Hackford on WHITE NIGHTS and James Brooks on I'LL DO ANYTHING.
Her television credits include choreographing SUE'S LEG for the inaugural episode of PBS' DANCE IN AMERICA IN 1976, co-producing and directing MAKING TELEVISION DANCE, and directing THE CATHERINE WHEEL for BBC Television. Ms. Tharp co-directed the television special BARYSHNIKOV BY THARP.
In 1992, Ms. Tharp published her autobiography PUSH COMES TO SHOVE. She went on to write THE CREATIVE HABIT: Learn it and Use it for Life, followed by THE COLLABORATIVE HABIT: Life Lessons for Working Together. She is currently working on a fourth book.
Today, Ms. Tharp continues to create.
Ryo Yanagitani, Artist Director/Pianist of the Ryuji Ueno Foundation has distinguished himself as one of Canada's most promising young concert artists. His most recent success includes winning the gold medal at the 10th San Antonio International Piano Competition, where he was also given special recognition for a performance of the complete Chopin Ballades. Other honors include the grand prize of the Hugo Kauder International Piano competition and a laureate of the Minnesota International Piano-e-Competition, the Dr. Luis Sigall International Piano competition in Vina del Mar (Chile), and the Hilton Head International Piano Competition. Ryo has made concerto appearances with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Metropolitan Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Hartford Symphony Orchestra, and the Moroccan Symphony Orchestra among others.
In addition to many solo recitals, he has been in demand as a chamber musician, performing in a wide range of settings, from the duo sonata repertoire to large ensembles. He is frequently invited as guest pianist to chamber music festivals across the US, in the capacity of both lecturer and pianist. His most recent collaboration with cellist Dai Miyata has resulted in a number of concert tours of Japan.
A recipient of many scholarships and awards, Ryo has been endowed twice by the Canadian Arts Council with a grant as an Emerging Artist, and is a recipient of the Arthur Foote Scholarship from the Harvard Musical Association. He was also recently awarded the Sony Foundation of America Career Grant through the Salon de Virtuosi of New York, and a Washington Award by the S&R Foundation of Washington DC. He has also been an artist-in-residence of the Maxwell Shepherd Fund of Connecticut. Ryo is also increasingly recognized not only as a performer but also as a pedagogue, and is frequently asked to adjudicate competitions and conduct masterclasses in North America and Asia. He has also recently released two solo CDs consisting of works by Chopin and Debussy, as well as a CD in collaboration with the cellist Dai Miyata.
Ryo Yanagitani received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Yale School of Music under Boris Berman, a Bachelor Degree in Piano Performance from the University of British Columbia under Doctor Henri-Paul Sicsic, and an Artist Diploma from the Cleveland Institute under Sergei Babayan. He was an instructor for the Chamber Music Program at Yale, as well as a visiting Assistant Professor of Piano at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver for the 2011/2012 academic year.
Ryuji Ueno Foundation
The Ryuji Ueno Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2015, dedicated to supporting excellence in classical music, broadening its relevance to new audiences, and furthering innovation in the arts. The foundation supports individual artists to develop and explore their talent and achieve their full potential through a number of programs, including the Evermay Concert Series and the Potomac Music Lab. The Ryuji Ueno Foundation also supports The 6821 Quintet as a part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, and The New Orchestra of Washington.
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