More on Misty Copeland Visit as Columbia City Ballet & Columbia Classical Ballet Join Forces for Ballet Fundraiser

Brooklyn Mack and Misty Copeland Columbia City Ballet and the Columbia Classical Ballet have joined forces to bring Misty Copeland and Brooklyn Mack to the City of Columbia for a special fundraising luncheon that will work to benefit both ballet companies.

The two companies have a long history with the region and each other, and before now haven’t been known to work together this formally or prominently.

“This fundraiser is about the impact the Ballet has had on our community over the years.” says William Starrett, Executive and Artistic Director for Columbia City Ballet.  “Both of us have had significant funding losses over the past years and we are struggling to continue the tradition of ballet and the standard our audiences have come to cherish and expect here in Columbia.”

Columbia Classical Ballet has had a particularly difficult season.  The October floods hit them hard with the total loss of their home dance studio.  On top of that, Pavlovich has experienced some health issues, has Jasper reported in the September issue of the magazine.

In an effort to help, Brooklyn Mack reached out to Misty Copeland to see if there was an interest in helping support the company where he began dancing at the age of 12 before leaving two years later to attend the Kirov Academy of Ballet on a full scholarship.  Without hesitation, she wanted to help, but there was one stipulation; she didn’t want to leave Columbia City Ballet out of the mix because of previous discussions about their commitment to diversity and how combined efforts can have a positive impact on the community. Copeland proposed the idea of a joint venture.

“We felt we would have a bigger impact working together, and only together could we bring Misty and Brooklyn here for one event, to benefit us all,” says Starrett.

Both companies are hosting the joint fundraiser and will split the costs and proceeds 50/50.  The luncheon will be held on March 15, 2015 and though still in the planning stage, will feature a Q&A with Misty Copeland and Brooklyn Mack and a VIP reception.

“We are excited to be working together to help promote something we both love so very much,” says Starrett.  “We couldn’t be happier or more excited to be able to bring this event to our region.”

If you are interested in a sponsorship or table at this event, please contact Alana Jordan at or Alexandra Cebry at


Misty Copeland Heading to Columbia to Benefit Columbia City and Classical Ballets - A Jasper Exclusive

When the 75 plus attendees at Columbia City Ballet's Uncorked Ballet Preview on Saturday night first arrived at the CCB Studios at Taylor and Main we knew we were in for a dance treat. Much of the choreography for the company's upcoming performance of Aladdin comes from challenging classical ballets with time-tested variations such as La Bayadere. Seeing the dancers perform the difficult movements on stage comes complete with a required finesse suggesting a certain ease of performance. But witnessing the dancers in the glaring lights of the studio gives no such illusion. The difficulty, and sometimes danger, of the choreography is plain to see as the dancers pant and grunt and sweat and almost fall then regain their footing, before collapsing at the sides of the studio, exhausted and exhilarated.

No make up, no costumes, no nets.

But before the backstage preview even got underway CCB executive director William Starrett shared an exciting announcement. In conjunction with Columbia Classical Ballet, who suffered tremendous studio losses last fall during the October floods, Columbia City Ballet will be bringing American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland,  to Columbia on March 15th for a luncheon to benefit both Columbia City and Classical Ballets.

"We are thrilled to make this announcement and looking forward to sharing more details as they become available," Starrett said.

Misty Copeland is known throughout the dance world for her athletic dance style as well as for being the first African American principal dancer in American Ballet Theatre's 75 year history.  She performed the lead role in Washington Ballet's Swan Lake last spring with Columbia native Brooklyn Mack who is in his fifth year as principal dancer with Washington Ballet.

ABT principal dancer Misty Copeland

Brooklyn Mack & Misty Copeland

Following the announcement, the dancers of Columbia City Ballet continued to take our collective breath away.

principal dancer Claire McCaa

Soloist Autumn Ingrassia

Soloists Bonnie Boiter-Jolley and Maurice Johnson

Soloist Claire Richards



The gentlemen of Aladdin for Columbia City Ballet

Cabaret Night at Columbia Classical Ballet

Last Sunday night, the dance contingency of Jasper Magazine was delighted to be hosted by Columbia Classical Ballet at their annual Cabaret Night at 701 Whaley. It was an evening of food, drink, a live auction, and art -- a great way to spend a Sunday night. (We also popped in for the end of Jasper's Wet Ink Poetry Series, hosted by Kendal Turner at the Jasper Studios at the Arcade, and then moved down the block to The Whig for a free concert by the (fabulous) Mobros -- a young band with pretty spectacular talent.) But by far, the best part of the night at the ballet was getting a sneak peek of the ballet company assembled this year by Radenko Pavlovich, artistic director of Columbia Classical Ballet. The company performed a half-dozen or so numbers with dances that ranged from the appropriate opening cabaret number -- a happy performance that included what looked to be a massive full company -- to a classy little tango number in black featuring principal dancer Lauren Frere. Frere's tango, which alternated between being flirtatious, sexy, and classy -- as any good tango should do -- was an excellent way of demonstrating this beautiful dancer's port de bras and extension.

The company, as-a-whole, performed admirably given the newness of the season, the atypical performance space (a marley-covered concrete floor), and obvious difficulties with the sound system.

Jasper looks forward to their coming season: La Bayadere on October 13th, featuring Brooklyn Mack; the Nutcracker , Lifechance in January, and then a reprisal of last season's Swan Lake.

Jasper 2012 Artists of the Year Finalists

Jasper Magazine is pleased to announce the finalists for Jasper 2012 Artist of the Year in the categories of Dance, Literary Arts, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts.


Dance:  Brooklyn Mack, Regina Willoughby, and Marcy Jo Yonkey-Clayton

Literary Arts:  Kwame Dawes, Julia Elliott, and Dianne Johnson

Music:  Aaron Graves, Morihiko Nakahara, and Josh Roberts

Theatre:  Chad Henderson, Vicky Saye Henderson, and Shelby Sessler

Visual Arts:   Thomas Crouch, Lyon Hill, and Susan Lenz


The above 15 artists were among a number of artists nominated by their peers and fans. Based on the information submitted with the nominations, a panel of judges selected the top three artists in each category to compete for the title Jasper 2012 Artist of the Year.

Now the fun begins! You’re invited to vote for your choice for Jasper 2012 Artist of the Year in each of the five categories by visiting the Jasper website. There, you’ll find summaries of each artist’s accomplishments for the period of September 15, 2011 – September 15, 2012.

The winners of Jasper 2012 Artist of the Year in Dance, Literary Arts, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts will be announced at 7 pm November 15, 2012 at the release of Jasper Magazine V. 002, N. 002 at City Art during Vista Lights. All 15 artists will be featured in the same issue of Jasper Magazine.

For more on the finalists, please continue reading.


Jasper 2012 Artist of the Year Finalists


Brooklyn Mack

Although Brooklyn Mack’s full time position in the Washington Ballet doesn’t allow him as much time in the SC Midlands as he once had, the dancer still considers Elgin his home and, despite a career that finds him dancing across the continents, the Columbia area is where you’ll find him during almost any time off. Nominated by Dance Magazine as one of the 25 young dancers to watch in 2012, Mack was the first African American male to win the Gold Medal at the 2012 Varna International Ballet Competition. He won the gold medal at the 2nd Annual Boston International Ballet Competition and the Grand Prix at the 3rd International Istanbul Ballet Competition, both in June 2012. An interview on National Public Radio, an invitation to dance at the Kremlin Palace, and guest solo artist invitations and performances in Indiana and at Jackson, not to mention performances with Columbia Classical Ballet and Washington Ballet, round out a busy year for Mack.


Marcy Jo Yonkey-Clayton

Recipient of the 2012 South Carolina Arts Commission Fellowship Award for Dance Choreography, Yonkey-Clayton created the dance, The More We Get Together (performed in Columbia, SC and Albany, GA), as well as Get On It, performed at the Columbia College Fall 2011 Faculty Concert. She danced in the following performances: Cow Beans & Cool Water, Angel Train, The More We Get Together, and the Columbia College Dance Lab’s Third Annual Campus Walking Tour of Dance. An assistant professor at Columbia College, Yonkey-Clayton teaches emerging dance artists, choreographs and performs with the Power Company, and the CCdanceLab. This year she taught at the American College Dance Festival in Albany, GA, the SC Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance in Myrtle Beach, and the Greenville Fine Arts Center, as well as for Richland One Dance and Columbia College Summer Camp. She completed a Choreography Residence at Ridge View High School, serves as editor awards committee member for the South Carolina Dance Association.


Regina Willoughby

Ballerina with Columbia City Ballet, Regina Willoughby danced the following starring roles with the company between September 2011 and 2012 – Lucy in Dracula, Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, (a role she says she has dreamed of dancing for 20 years!), and Aurora in Sleeping Beauty (a role she says she felt she needed to conquer before she retires). She also appeared with Ballet Spartanburg’s Dance Synergy III and earned the American Ballet Theater Teacher Training Curriculum certification in NYC.


Literary Arts


Kwame Dawes

Earlier this year, Kwame Dawes joined the ranks of Ansel Adams, Langston Hughes, Henry Kissinger, Derek Walcott, and Eudora Welty, as winner of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.  Dawes was one of 181 scholars, artists, and scientists selected from nearly 3000 applicants.  In March he received the Poets & Writers magazine Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers Award, which recognizes writers who have given generously to other writers.  Even though Dawes moved to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln last year to become the editor of the renowned literary magazine Prairie Schooner, the Jamaican poet says he still thinks of himself as a South Carolinian, and much of his work has been about getting South Carolina writers in print. Within the past year, Dawes published Home Is Where: An Anthology of African American Poetry from the Carolinas, an essential collection of contemporary African-American writers from South and North Carolina published by Hub City Press of Spartanburg and launched at the Columbia Museum of Art last fall.  He also published Jubilation: An Anthology of Poetry Celebrating Fifty Years of Jamaican Independence (Peepal Tree, 2012) and his groundbreaking poetry and journalism project, Voices of Haiti, which won the National Press club’s 2011 Joan Friedenberg Award for Online Journalism, is now available as an I-book from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Recording.  Two books forthcoming this fall also suggest his continuing commitment to South Carolina voices:  Seeking: South Carolina Poets Responding to the Art of Jonathan Green (USC Press, fall 2012), and Seven Strong: South Carolina Poetry Prize Winners (also USC Press, fall 2012), selections from the state poetry prize series founded in by Dawes in 2005.


 Julia Elliott

“Totally original” is what the awards committee for the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award said of Cayce writer Julia Elliott, or more precisely, “incredibly imaginative, sharply observed, and totally original.”  Elliott was one of six women writers selected this fall for the $30,000 award, which is given annually to writers who demonstrate excellence and promise early in their careers.  Two short stories were published this spring in Conjunctions and in Tin House, journals known for experimental literary fiction, and her story “Regeneration at Mukti,” originally published in Conjunctions, received a Pushcart Prize and will appear in the 2013 anthology later this year.  An assistant professor English and Women’s and Gender Studies at USC, Elliott is currently finishing The New and Improved Romie Futch, a novel about a SC taxidermist, as well as working on a second novel about primatologists and baboons, which she studied in-depth at the NC Zoo in Asheboro in 2011 as recipient of a creative arts grant from USC.


 Dianne Johnson

Last year, Columbia city officials chose Dianne Johnson’s All Around Town: The Photographs of Richard Samuel Roberts, originally published in 1998, for the city reading initiative Together We Can.  As the program’s featured writer, Johnson gave 45 presentations in 6 weeks, working in partnership with the Columbia Museum of Art and Richland County Public Library, and interacting with over 2000 third graders from Richland District One, working.  Wearing her signature red “FREADOM” shirt, she talks with children about the kinds of freedom they can have if they master reading.  Every student received a copy of the book, which brings Columbia history to life with Roberts’ photographs of Columbia’s African-American communities from the 1920s, accompanied by Johnson’s poetry.  A professor of English at USC, Johnson was also featured at the Upcountry Literary Festival at USC-Union and the South Carolina Book Festival, and she served as a judge for the SC State Library Letters about Literature Program and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators New Writers Contest.  One of her nominators lauded “her contribution to the lives and futures of these 2000 children” and “her tireless enthusiasm and respect for all children.”



Aaron Graves (of Those Lavender Whales)

As the leader/mastermind behind the oddball indie-pop outfit Those Lavender Whales and one of the primary forces behind the community-centered Fork & Spoon Records, Graves is at the very heart of the music scene here in Columbia. While often more associated with his promotional efforts at Fork & Spoon, this past year has been more focused on his long-gestating full-lengthTomahawk of Praise, a powerfully honest and arresting album that pairs quirky arrangements with lyrics that tackle the nature of family, faith, and growing up in what is (arguably) the most fully-realized local recording of 2012. A sold-out release show, numerous regional shows, a tour up the East Coast, and notable performances at the Free Times Music Crawl and the Arts & Draughts series rounded out a banner year for Graves and his band, which also includes his wife Jessica Bornick, and Fork & Spoon co-founder Chris Gardner.


Josh Roberts (of Josh Roberts & the Hinges)

Frequently touted as one of the city's best live acts, Josh Roberts has long been known as one of our scene's true guitar gods, a masterful rock and roller who is capable of both extended technical flights of improvisation fancy and writing monster guitar riff after monster guitar riff. Highlight performances over the past year have included opening gigs for the likes of Band of Horses and Drive-by Truckers as well as a year-capping performance before headliner George Clinton on New Year’s 2011 on Main Street. And just a few weeks ago, Roberts ended a five year recording drought with the Hinges with the release of Mighty Old Distance and Murky Old Time, a concise distillation of the power of his songwriting and guitar chops that captures the musician at the top of his game.


Morihiko Nakahara

In 2011- 2012, Morihiko Nakahara completed his 4th year as Music Director and Conductor of the South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra. He also serves as Resident Conductor for the Spokane Symphony in Spokane, Washington. Acclaimed as a versatile artist and a passionate believer in music education for all ages, Nakahara leads a series of successful educational and community access concerts every season. In addition, he is a popular clinician, guest conductor, and speaker at various educational institutions. As a personable ambassador for classical music, Nakahara makes frequent appearances on local media outlets as well as at local businesses and service clubs.


Visual Arts

Lyon Hill

Lyon Hill creates two-dimensional visual art, and as filmmaker, puppeteer, and Artistic Director of the Columbia Marionette Theatre, designs three-dimensional creations as well.  In 2012 he was an awarded participant in the What's Love: input/output exhibition at 701 Whaley.  In the past year he has performed numerous works featuring his creations:  Supine at the Columbia Indie Grits Festival/Spork in Hand Puppet Slam and at the Center for Puppetry Arts National Slam in Atlanta, GA, an excerpt from Hansel and Gretel as part of Pocket Productions' "Playing After Dark" series, and assorted Marionette Theatre productions (including The Brementown Musicians, The Brave Tin Soldier, Pinocchio, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.)  His short film Junk Palace was awarded a Citation of Excellence in the Recorded Media category by the American Chapter of the UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionette.) 

 Thomas Crouch

Creator of the Art Bar Agora, an annual artists’ showcase by and for artists, Crouch produced the third annual showcase in late spring 2012. His art exhibits this year include “Wolfs vs. Baboons” solo show at the Tapps Arts Center, Artista Vista, Mingle and Jingle on Main Street and at the SC Philharmonic Orchestra benefit, “Jail Break” at the Charleston Old City Jail, “No Man’s Land” solo show at Gallery 701 Hallway, an open Farmers’ Market booth, the “Bullets for Band-Aids” veteran’s benefit, “Logical Operator—she loves Me, She Loves Me Not” for the What’s Love solo hallway show. He participated in the Trustus Theatre arts/theatre collaboration for the musical Passing Strange, exhibited at Middleton Gardens in Charleston for the Charleston International Film Festival Live Auction, a Garden Deli show in Columbia, as well as at the Tapp’s Ronald McDonald House Fundraiser, and The Pretty Girls Feminist Art show. Crouch recently gave a presentation on his creative process for High Noon City Art, participated in the S & S Art Supply panel fundraiser, and was commissioned to produce the cover for the short story collection, Buttered Biscuits.


Susan Lenz

Textile and Installation Artist Susan Lenz completed three artist residencies and scholarship programs this year including Studios Midwest, in Galesburg, IL, The Studios at Key West in Key West, FL, and the Hot Springs National Park Artist Residency at Hot Springs, AR. She was the recipient of the SC Palmetto Hands Juried Fine Craft Exhibition Best of Show award in North Charleston, SC and the Niche Award 2011 for fibers in the decorative category winner by Niche Magazine in Baltimore, MD. Her exhibitions include the following: the 2012 Quilt Festival at the la Conner Quilt and Textile Museum in La Conner, WA; a solo show, Fiber Architecture:  Buildings in Stitches at Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts in VA; an invitational show, Decision Portraits at Quilt, Inc.’s International Quilt Show in Houston; Lowell Art Quilt 2012 at the Brush Gallery in Lowell, MA; Material Voice at Ayers Loft Gallery in Lowell, MA; Small Stories at Urban Alchemist in Brooklyn, NY; a solo show, Sun and Sand at Frame of Mind, in Columbia; an invitational show, Narrative Threads at the Page-Walker Gallery in Cary, NC; I’m Not Crazy, Studio Art Quilt Associates traveling exhibition; La Grange National XXVII in LaGrange, GA; a solo show, Last Words, at the Imperial Center, Rocky Mount, NC; the 33rd Annual Contemporary Crafts at the Mesa Arts Center in Mesa, AZ; an invitational show, Meet the Designers at the Columbia Museum of Art; Crafts National at Mulvane Art Museum in Topeka, KS, Art and the Human Form: Concept, Costume & Beyond, Blue Door Gallery, Yonkers, NY; Textiles in a Tube 2 at Riverworks Gallery in Greenville, SC; the SC Palmetto Hands Fine Craft Exhibition in North Charleston; the 2012 Exhibition at McKissick Museum; a solo show, Last Words at Vision Gallery in Chandler, AZ; an invitational show, The Winter Show at Green Hill Center in Greensboro, NC; Art of Fiber at Workhouse Art Center in Lorton, VA; Fine Crafts at Fredericksburg Creative Center for the Arts in VA; SAQA Layers of Memories, Studio Art Quilt; National Fiber Directions Exhibition 2011, Wichita, KS; Tapps Center for the Arts window installation, Two Hours at the Beach; an invitational show, Green: The Color and the Cause at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC; National Juried Quilt Exhibit at Delaplane Visual Arts Center in Frederick, MD; Unearth: A Celebration of Naturally Inspired Art at Saluda Shoals in Columbia; and the National Heritage Quilt Show at McMinn County Living Heritage Museum in Athens, TN.




Chad Henderson

One of Columbia's youngest professional directors, Chad Henderson has helmed six shows, all coincidentally musicals, in the past year at three of the area's major theatres:  John and Jen at Workshop Theatre, Pinkalicious - The Musical (which was revived later in the season after selling out 100% of its performances) at Columbia Children's Theatre, and Spring Awakening, Passing Strange, Avenue Q, and Next to Normal, all at Trustus Theatre.  Additionally, he represented the Midlands via a residency at The Studios of Key West in Florida, where he directed the 24-hour theatre festival "One Night Stand."  As an actor, he was seen in The Great American Trailer Park Musical at Trustus, as well as in training scenarios for law enforcement and counseling professionals in SC, MT and NM.

Vicky Saye Henderson

Vicky Saye Henderson has been seen in five stage productions in the last year: Andrew Lippa's Wild Party (as Queenie, the tortured showgirl) at Workshop Theatre, and at Trustus Theatre Next to Normal (as Diana, the bipolar wife and mom) Spring Awakening (all adult females), The Great American Trailer Park Musical (as Betty) and Almost an Evening (multiple roles.)  Additionally she acted in two staged readings of plays at Trustus: Southern Discomfort and Satan in High Heels. A SC Arts Commision-approved teaching artist, she has worked with numerous schools, colleges, churches, businesses and individuals, offering specialized courses in theatre arts, improvisation, and professional development.  Her improv and sketch comedy training program for youth, ReWired, is in its 6th year at Workshop Theatre, and she is director for drama ministries at St. Andrews Lutheran Church.  She also appeared in two film projects, Lola's Prayer and Taken In, which were screened at three film festivals, including Columbia's Indie Grits Festival.

Shelby Sessler 

A senior Music major concentrating in voice at USC, Shelby Sessler has performed diverse roles at four of Columbia's major theatres in the past year: the naive Pickles in The Great American Trailer Park Musical at Trustus Theatre, the titular tyke in Pinkalicious - The Musical at Columbia Children's Theatre, Vivienne the snooty antagonist in Legally Blonde at Workshop Theatre, and all three female roles (a German femme fatale, a forlorn Scottish farm wife, and a proper British lady) in Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps at Town Theatre. Additionally she teaches voice in Workshop Theatre's Broadway Bound Program. Behind the scenes, Sessler worked as Assistant Stage Manager for the SC Shakespeare Co.'s spring production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged.)

Classical Ballet's Presentation of Le Corsaire Coming up Friday Night

It's the end of Columbia Classical Ballet's 20th season and artistic director Radenko Pavlovich is celebrating with the ambitious staging of one of classical ballet's greatest productions, Le Corsaire.

Based loosely on the poem The Corsaire by Lord Byron, we cannot assure the reader that the story you see told through dance by the Columbia Classical Ballet company will be completely true to its origins, particularly given the license artistic directors in these parts take with some of western cultures greatest works of art. However, Jasper has had a gander at the press release being circulated and, while there are certainly some differences in the interpretation, the story still reads in a similar vein as that written by Jules Perrot who premiered the ballet in 1858 at the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre, and improved upon by Marius Petipa in 1863, who had incidentally danced the role of Conrad at the premiere five years before.

For the sake of maintaining the integrity of the original story it should be noted that Le Corsaire, the ballet, is the story of Medora, a young Greek girl, who is sold to a rich Pasha by a slave dealer. An oddly good pirate -- or Corsaire -- by the name of Conrad comes to Medora’s rescue – as good rather than bad pirates are wont to do, and falls in love with her. Through a series of jealous manipulations, Medora ends up back with her original owner who once again sells the young woman to the same Pasha. When Conrad once again tries to save her, he is caught and sentenced to death. Now it is Medora’s turn to save Conrad and she does so by conspiring with another slave woman named Gulnare. The plan is that Medora agrees to marry the Pasha but, during the ceremony, Gulnare sneaks in and takes Medora's place, with Gulnare ending up marrying the Pasha. After the jig is up, Medora and Conrad escape from the Pasha's compound, but their ship goes down in a terrible storm. Luckily, the lovers are washed ashore and they live happily ever after.

What is most important, when addressing the integrity of the story, is that in all likelihood, Pavlovich will be keeping true to the choreography as it was revised in 1931 for the Kirov Ballet by Agrippina Vagonova, the noted pedagogical genius who gave us the truest form of classical ballet technique of all time. Certainly, sometimes ADs and ballet masters or mistresses have to make concessions in choreography, based upon the abilities of the dancers with which they have to work. But knowing that Columbia native Brooklyn Mack will be dancing the slave variation that has won him silver medals all over the world, we feel certain the audience will get the real deal. And if you'd like a preview, take a look at this.

In the meantime, here's a copy of the previously mentioned press release with all the info you might need to know before attending the performance Friday night. Jasper will be in the audience and we hope you will, too.

Swashbuckling ‘Corsaire’ wraps up Columbia Classical Ballet’s 20th season The Columbia Classical Ballet sets sail March 2 with “Le Corsaire,” a swashbuckling ballet masterwork filled with handsome pirates and beautiful women that takes many thrilling twists and turns through exotic places. Join the crew for this fanciful final offering of the Classical Ballet’s 20th anniversary season.

“This great work of the classical repertoire will be special in many ways,” said Radenko Pavlovich, artistic director of the Columbia Classical Ballet. “Columbia has never seen anything like it.”

The rousing story and dynamic dancing are only part of what makes “Le Corsaire” (also called “The Pirate”) a must-see show at the Koger Center for the Arts.

While the ballerinas are usually at center stage, “Le Corsaire” showcases the power of the men. Featured will be guest artist Brooklyn Mack, a member of the Washington Ballet who received his initial training from Pavlovich. Company members Christopher Miro, Oleksandr Vykhrest and Ivan Popov take leading roles.

“This ballet is about the guys and they really shine in it,” said Pavlovich.

Visually this will be a stunning production with sets and costumes used by the Washington Ballet and other companies around the globe.

Mack, named one of “25 to watch in 2012” by Dance magazine in January, will dance the role of Ali. A Washington Post review of his performance as Ali with the Washington Ballet called him “a human missile.”

“It is like the role was made for him,” Pavlovich said.

Miro, a native of Cuba and former member of The National Ballet of Cuba, dances the role of pirate leader Conrad. Vykhrest fills the role of Birbanto, Conrad’s friend and betrayer. Vykhrest has been a member of the Classical Ballet of Kiev, Donetsk Ballet Company and the Sarasota Ballet. Popov, as the slave trader Lankedem, has been soloist at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, the Vienna State Opera and principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet and the Hungarian National Ballet. The role of Medora is being danced by Tamako Miyazaki, a native of Japan completing a stellar first year with the company, and Lauren Frere, who joined the company in 2008 and has been principal dancer since 2010, will dance the role of Gulnara.

Sets are by Simon Pastukh who has designed over 200 opera, ballet and theatrical productions for the Bolshoi, Mariinsky and Sovremennik theaters in Russia, NHK in Japan, the National Theatre of Norway and others. From 1980 to 1991 he was a resident designer at Michailovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre in St. Petersburg. Galina Solovyeva, designer for the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg for 15 years, created the costumes. Her career includes over 100 designs for ballet, opera, and theatre among them “Othello,” “Eugene Onegin,” “The Sleeping Beauty,” “Firebird,” and “Swan Lake” for groups including the New York City Ballet and the Japan Ballet.

“Le Corsaire” was created in the late 19th century by choreographer Marius Petipa (the man behind “The Sleeping Beauty,” “The Nutcracker,” “Swan Lake”) for the Imperial Ballet of St. Petersburg. The original score is by Adolphe Adam (composer of “Giselle” too) with additions by Cesare Pugni, history’s most prolific ballet music composer, and several other composers.

The ballet has enough twists and turns to be a tale told by Shakespeare. A pirate ship manned by Conrad, his friend Birbanto and Ali sails into a harbor town where they visit a bazaar where slaves are being sold by Lankedem. When Conrad sees the slave girl Medora it is love at first sight. He and his crew steal her and the other girls, including Medora’s friend Gulnara. Medora asks Conrad to free all the girls and he agrees, but Birbanto incites a mutiny. The mutiny fails, but Birbanto convinces Conrad he is blameless - then steals Medora and sells her to a Pasha. Disguised as pilgrims, Conrad leads the pirates on a raid to free Medora. The reunited lovers sail away, but are overtaken by a raging storm. The ship sinks. The ballet ends as the rising moon reveals Conrad and Medora safely reaching shore.

“We’re happy to finish our 20th season with this amazing production,” Pavlovich said. “It’s a fitting end to this important year.”

“Le Corsaire” 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 2 at the Koger Center, Assembly and Greene streets, Columbia. For evening performance tickets, $6 - $32, go to or call (803) 251-2222. For morning tickets contact the Classical Ballet at (803) 252-9112.


 For more of Jasper, please visit our website at where you can subscribe to the magazine, read back issues of Jasper, and keep up with what's going on in the world of Columbia arts.




Lifechance: A Sumptuous, Masculine Meal

I won’t call this a review, because I believe reviews should be written by people who have expertise in the art form being commented upon. That said, I would like, from the perspective of a lay person who adores watching dance performances, to comment on Columbia Classical Ballet’s 2012 Lifechance International Ballet Gala of the Stars on January 21 at the Koger Center. I’ve attended several Lifechance performances in past years, and they’ve always been crowd-pleasers. The 2012 performance, too, brought people to their feet. It was different, however, from what I’ve personally experienced in the past for a couple of reasons. Most dramatic for me from the start was the eclecticism demonstrated by this year’s dance and choreographic talent.

The very first number, titled “Tryptych,” dramatically showcased the perhaps unexpected modern dance proclivities of Columbia Classical Ballet company members. Stark, minimalist costumes and set allowed the audience to focus exclusively on the performers themselves as they moved in ways that were rather un-Swan-Lake-like yet mesmerizingly fresh and sometimes quirky. I don’t know whether the dancers’ movements were supposed to be synchronized. They were not, and I do not know whether that was intended. I would have like to see more unison and tightness in this one company performance. In this particular number, there may have been too many dancers on stage at once or they did not have adequate time to rehearse because, even given the free-form, stream-of consciousness nature of the genre, it came across as a bit confused and, dare I say, kind of clunky. Ordinarily, I very much enjoy modern dance, but this number, choreographed by Rick McCullough, failed to deliver for me personally, though I applaud its inventiveness.

(Editor's Note:  Jasper loves a teachable moment. What Kristine witnessed when she wasn't sure "whether the dancers’ movements were supposed to be synchronized," is called a canon.  A canon is a choreographic form that reflects the musical form of the same name in which individuals and groups perform the same movement phrase beginning at different times. Canons can be confusing, particularly to the untrained eye -- which Kristine is very forthcoming in her claim to have. In retrospect, it turns out that the Columbia Classical Ballet Company was performing the piece to the specifications of the choreographer after all.)

By far, the performances I enjoyed the most occurred in the second half of the show. Call me sentimental, but my personal favorite was “The Man I Love” from George Balanchine’s “Who Cares?” Lauren Fadeley Veyette and Ian Hussey of the Pennsylvania Ballet were absolutely breathtaking to watch and exhibited a truly believable romantic chemistry along with beautifully precise movements. I really could not take my eyes off this dazzling couple.

Of course, Classical Ballet principal dancers Lauren Frere and Ivan Popov are among my favorite dancers to watch locally. Popov exudes a lovely balance of passion and professional polish. Every time he dances, I can imagine how much joy he gives and receives in performing. And without fail, the willowy Frere makes what must be rigorous appear effortless. I’ve never seen her when she did not exhibit perfection. Together, Popov and Frere were elegant and enchanting in “Somewhere in Time,” which was beautifully choreographed by Simone Cuttino.

Another unexpected element to this year’s Lifechance performance was the plethora of amazing male dancers. This truly was a show that allowed the men to shine. In my experience, it’s almost always been about the women with the men in supporting, almost wallpaper-like roles. Not so on this night. Everyone eagerly anticipated the return of Elgin native Brooklyn Mack to the Columbia stage. Mack, who first studied under company Director Radenco Pavlovich and has been with the Washington Ballet for two years now, delivered stunning athleticism and grace in appearances that seemed a little too brief for me. I really wanted to see more, but what Mack gave, he gave 100 percent. When Mack leaps, he seems literally suspended in the air for longer than usual before landing flawlessly and flowing into his next visual passage. It is such a treat to watch Brooklyn Mack dance for any length of time.

Another notable male performer was Columbia Classical Ballet soloist Willie Moore of Columbia. When he is on the stage, he rather steals the show with his riveting presence and lightning quick execution, from the unbounded energy of his leaps to the stunning speed of his spins. Moore always delivers an exhilarating performance. I also enjoyed watching male company members Hiroyuki Nagasawa and Oleksandr Vykhrest. It’s completely irrelevant, but on this night, I noticed that, on stage and from a distance, Vykhrest looks a tad like the actor Alec Baldwin (just saying).

One of the biggest surprises of the evening, however, was Chong Sun of the Washington Ballet, who took the stage by storm in a contemporary montage of drama, acrobatics, speed, and captivating showmanship. According to the program, Sun will be Columbia Classical Ballet’s newest member next season. I can’t wait to see more from this talented young man.

Aside from delivering some of the finest dance performances of the year to Columbia, Lifechance first and foremost is a charity event, this year benefitting the Harvest Hope Food Bank − a great cause in a difficult economy that has increased demand for food bank resources to new levels. Lifechance was a welcome feast that ably satisfied a city’s cultural appetite while helping stave off hunger of another kind.

Kristine Hartvigsen is the associate editor of Jasper Magazine - The Word on Columbia Arts.

For more of Kristine, read her article on Stephen Chesley, her poem Horizontal Hold, and her review of artist Lindsay Wiggins.

Contact Kristine at

Brooklyn Mack -- Dancing Saturday Night at Lifechance

I'm sure my kids hate it when I reference their younger days in blog posts and lectures and the like, and every time I do, I'm aware that they may be uncomfortable. But then I remember how much we spoiled them when they were small and I decide, screw it, they can take one for the team. This is one of those times.

When Annie and Bonnie were little girls and they temporarily left Columbia City Ballet's junior company to dance for and learn from Radenko Pavlovich's Columbia Classical Ballet, (I say temporarily because Bonnie is back at City now and Annie stopped dancing in high school), there was this amazingly sweet boy who had also just come to dance there who we all immediately fell in love with.

His name was Brooklyn Mack.

Brooklyn was tall and shy and, to be honest, less than graceful, and his feet seemed to get in the way of his dancing. He had a smile that was almost too big for his face and he sometimes seemed to try to hide it when he was tickled by something someone said or did.

All the kids there were young and raw,  and despite their parents opinions -- mine included -- there didn't appear to be any world-class dancers chasing one another around the studios at Pavlovich's, or popping down the walkway to buy and share cheesy bread from Little Caesar's Pizza.

But there was Brooklyn. At 12, not yet well-trained or even very talented, but with a degree of determination that made all the other kids pale. Over and over he would endure Pavlovich's not-always-gentle corrections. "Point your bah-nah-nahs! Point your bah-nah-nahs!" Pavlovich would scream at the boy in his Serbian accent to point his quite large toes and feet.

Brooklyn would internalize his corrections without letting them beat him down. Like most ballet instructors who frequently question the self-worth of the individuals in their tutelage, Pavlovich showed no mercy to Brooklyn -- which was fine, because Brooklyn didn't want it. Though sensitive and kind, he was tough. And even as a boy, he demonstrated the kind of integrity that made me feel that it was an honor to call him a friend of our family.

Brooklyn didn't stay long at Pavlovich's. Radenko has a reputation for wisely sending his talented students on to study elsewhere and he did so with Brooklyn, as well. After just a few years he felt Brooklyn was ready to move on so he made arrangements for the still young boy to move to Washington, DC and attend the Kirov Ballet Academy. On full scholarship. When Brooklyn graduated from the Kirov, he got a choice position dancing with the American Ballet Theatre's second company. And he traveled. He traveled literally all over the world dancing in Asia and Europe and South America, and competing in competitions where he rarely left without a medal around his neck. (He made the cover of Dance Europe in 2009 and was just named by Dance Magazine as one of 25 young dancers to watch in 2012.) He finally landed at Washington Ballet three years ago where he dances in a troupe of extraordinarily gifted dancers.

And this weekend, Brooklyn is traveling back to Columbia where he will dance once again for his mentor and with the company that gave him his start. I cannot recommend enough that you go see the Lifechance Ballet Gala this Saturday night at the Koger Center. I wrote a little ditty on it for Free Times here, where you'll find most of the info you need to know to go.

What you'll see will be an exciting night of some of the best, most athletic, most inspiring ballet you will have seen in quite some time, both from Brooklyn and his colleagues. But look closely when the young man finishes his dances -- he doesn't try to hide his smile as much any more -- and I think he learned a long time ago that his integrity shines through no matter what.