Dance Magazine award goes to Pacific Northwest Ballet's Russell and Stowell, tap star Glover, and City Ballet's Boal.
For over thirty years, Russell, one of the first ballet masters chosen by George Balanchine to stage his works, has traveled the globe ensuring that they are performed as he made them. As coartistic director with husband Stowell of Pacific Northwest Ballet since 1977, she brought the Balanchine tradition to the Northwest and combined it with a superb school and an eclectic repertory to create a first-class dance company. Stowell also produces distinguished choreographic work for PNB. As New Yorker writer John Lahr described it in the October 30, 1995 issue of the magazine, Glover's mission is "to put tap back into a contemporary black context." In doing so, Glover has revitalized one of the world's most joyous art forms. With his exquisite line and sensitive portrayals, Peter Boal gives each ballet he dances an extra intensity and beauty.
The Dance Magazine Award honors significant contributions to dance during distinguished careers. Dance Magazine editors and correspondents from around the world submit nominations. This year's recipients were chosen from among seventy nominees by a panel chaired by Dance Magazine senior editor Clive Barnes and including Philp, senior editors John Gruen, Doris Hering, and Marilyn Hunt, contributing editor Hilary Ostlere, and New York City critic Robert Greskovic.
At the incredibly young age of twenty-two, Savion Glover is already a veteran who has made his mark on contemporary dance. Few individuals of any age could so brilliantly both master a genre and rejuvenate it. Hailed as the future of tap at age eleven when he appeared on Broadway in The Tap Dance Kid and later in the revue Black and Blue, Glover went on to impress audiences in the 1992 Broadway smash Jelly's Last Jam, bringing to his role a poignancy that demonstrated he could act as well as dance. In his late teens, he was a regular guest on the television program Sesame Street.
Given all the accolades, Glover could have rested on his laurels for a while. Instead, last fall he took on the challenge of choreographing, with Public Theater artistic director George Wolfe, a history of black America through hip-hop and tap. The result, Bring in `Da Noise; Bring in `Da Funk was one of the season's biggest hits. At press time, the show was scheduled to move to Broadway in April.
Glover became involved in the arts growing up in Newark, New Jersey. Yvette Glover, his mother and manager, started him on percussion lessons at age four. By the time he was seven, realizing his true talent was dance, she enrolled him in tap classes.
If anyone has been worried that tap would fade, they can stop worrying now. Glover has made sure, with his spectacular technique and choreographic skill, that audiences will be hearing "da noise" for a long time to come.
FRANCIA RUSSELL AND KENT STOWELL
In 1977 Francia Russell and Kent Stowell brought their New York City Ballet training and European dance and administrative experience to Seattle. At that time the fledgling Pacific Northwest Ballet had neither a strong identity nor first-rate dancers. Lured by the opportunity to make it into a excellent ballet company, Russell and Stowell left their positions as directors of Frankfurt Ballet to take on the challenge. Besides adding ten new works to the repertoire and staging five classic ballets, Stowell has kept track of the finances. Russell reorganized the school, modeling it on the School of American Ballet. The two rapidly improved the quality of performance and the breadth of the repertoire.
By the 1980s, subscriptions had doubled and performances sold out on a regular basis. Grants had been secured and the books balanced. The company toured both coasts and performed abroad, bringing Balanchine ballets that had never been let out of the NYCB repertoire. Meanwhile, the school reached capacity. The number of dancers tripled, and the budget quadrupled. The company earned a reputation as one of the top five companies outside of New York. In 1993 local residents demonstrated their support by contributing $10 million and moving the company into the enormous Seattle Center, home of the opera, symphony, and the Seattle Supersonics basketball team. To achieve this degree of acceptance, it took the varied skills of both Russell and Stowell.
Russell grew up in Los Angeles in a family that was serious about the arts. Since they moved frequently, she took ballet classes from a variety of teachers in San Francisco, London, and Paris, among them Felia Doubrovska, Antonina Tumkovsky, Vera Volkova, and, in New York, Benjamin Harkarvy and Robert Joffrey. After three weeks in the School of American Ballet, she was taken into City Ballet by Balanchine. By the time Russell was twenty-two, she had been promoted to soloist with NYCB, and eventually rose to principal rank.
Russell, however was destined for other things besides dancing. In spite of her blossoming career, she quit dancing at age twenty-three to go to college, eager to study art history, political science, Shakespeare, and other English literature. Balanchine lured her back to ballet with his offer to make her a teacher at the School of American Ballet. Not long afterwards, he appointed her ballet mistress and started entrusting her with the restaging of his ballets.
If it were not for Russell's stringent standards, Balanchine's ballets would not now be so widely well produced. In the past thirty years, she has staged over one hundred Balanchine ballets throughout the United States and Europe. In 1987 she staged, for the Shanghai Ballet, the first Balanchine ballet in the People's Republic of China, and in 1988 she staged for the Kirov Ballet the historic first authorized performance of Balanchine's work in his birthplace. This experience, combined with her years at Frankfurt Ballet and PNB, have given her an especially sophisticated understanding of what goes into making a dance, a dancer, and a dance company.
Born in Idaho, Stowell began his dance studies with Willam Christensen at the University of Utah, later joining San Francisco Ballet and, in 1962, New York City Ballet. He began to choreograph during one of the company's summer residencies in Saratoga, New York. After he and Russell were married in 1965, they started a family which now includes three grown sons. Their son Christopher is a principal with San Francisco Ballet. In 1970, they moved to Europe where Stowell joined the Munich Opera Ballet as a leading dancer and choreographer. Three years later, he was appointed ballet master and choreographer to the Frankfurt Ballet, serving in that capacity until being named coartistic director, with Russell, in 1975.
Since becoming coartistic director of PNB, Stowell has choreographed or staged twenty-seven ballets for the company, including well-received, full-length productions of Swan Lake, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, Coppelia, Cinderella, and Nutcracker and the original works Time and Ebb, Carmina Burana, and Faure Requiem. By meeting the demands of artistic director and resident choreographer, he shows how much can be achieved with passion and commitment.
New York City Ballet principal Peter Boal dances with extraordinary elegance and sensitivity. When he's onstage, Boal radiates confidence, taking on the most difficult choreography with aplomb. He captures just the right tone in every ballet he dances, standing out in the Balanchine ballets Agon, Prodigal Son, Harlequinade, Chaconne, and Four Temperaments; Jerome Robbins's Quiet City; Peter Martins's Black and White; and Ulysses Dove's Red Angels.
Raised in Bedford, New York, Boal decided after seeing NYCB perform The Nutcracker when he was nine that he wanted to dance. He enrolled at School of American Ballet and, two years later, danced the Nutcracker Prince. In 1983 he joined the NYCB corps; in 1987 he was made a soloist and, in 1989, a principal. Boal has appeared on television in Balanchine in America and Balanchine Celebration, both part of PBS's Dance in America series. He has also danced with Ballet du Nord in Roubaix, France, and with Birmingham Royal Ballet.
In 1990, Boal won the Artistic Achievement Award of the Professional Children's School, where he iis on the board of trustees.
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|Title Annotation:||Francia Russell and Kent Stowell, Savion Glover, Peter Boal|
|Date:||Apr 1, 1996|
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