Expectations are high with a name like Stars of American Ballet. Rightfully so. The past century of ballet in the United States has fostered talents from the likes of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Julie Kent, to dancing choreography by Jerome Robbins and Alvin Ailey. High expectations are exactly what company founder Daniel Ulbricht intended.
After all, rising to the elite ranks of one of the best ballet companies in the world is not for the faint of anything – heart, body or mind. Ulbricht knows this first hand. He got his start after switching from martial arts to ballet as a pre-teen in St. Petersburg, Florida. In short order he then trained at School of American Ballet and landed at New York City Ballet (NYCB), where he has been a principal dancer since 2007.
Ulbricht’s humble beginnings are never far from his mind. It was his own suburban upbringing that made him aware that so many Americans outside of major cities do not have access to the highest, elite quality ballet. So, in 2008 he started Stars of American Ballet with the intention of delivering it to them. “The mission of Stars of American Ballet is to one day see all parts of this country entertained, educated, lifted up and inspired by the art of ballet and great dancing.”
This pursuit is what brings Ulbricht and collaborators from American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet and NYCB, to Ogden on Saturday, November 2nd.
Their program includes a George Balanchine crowd-pleaser choreographed to no less than 16 George Gershwin songs, a World Premiere by company member Alec Knight from NYCB, and selections danced to music by Tchaikovsky and Benny Goodman. This wide-range in programming gives audiences a buffet of styles to enjoy.
The show opens with a bang when Ulbricht partners with NYCB soloist Erica Pereira for the spirited and dynamic Tarantella. Inspired by an Italian folk dance about spiders, the explosive moves and intricate technique in this Balanchine piece are perfect for audiences enraptured by the sheer physicality of dancers in peak condition. Even those not sold on traditional ballet are sure to find enjoyment in the quirky song, and the traditional costuming.
While their time in Ogden centers around the concert, many members will spend time offering free masterclasses and lectures in our community. This is an important aspect of what Stars of American Ballet offers. Not just the performance, but the outreach. Ulbricht will be hosting two masterclasses, one at the Penny Dudleston McKay School of Classical Ballet, and one with students studying dance at Weber State University. Ulbricht also confirmed he will participate in a community dialogue about the effects of #METOO in the performing arts.
Stars of American Ballet takes pride in being accessible to a range of audiences, whether from the stage or in the classroom. The ten company members take pride in what they do, and want to share it with as broad of a live audience as possible. “Dance is still a very visceral experience, and that experience of being in an audience can’t be replicated by watching it on YouTube,” Ulbricht explained.
Tickets for the event are $30 adult, $5 for children under age 12. Student discounts available.
The event takes place Friday, Nov. 2, at 7:30 p.m. at the Austad Auditorium, Val A. Browning Center for Performing Arts, on the Weber State University campus.