American Repertory Ballet puts its moves on display


The Princeton Ballet School offers Rider dance students the unique opportunity of taking classes on its campus.

By J’na Jefferson and Megan Pendagast
The American Repertory Ballet (ARB) whirls onto stage at the Bart Luedeke Center (BLC) this weekend as the dancers preview their upcoming 2012-2013 season.

Performances will feature pieces choreographed by Douglas Martin, Trinette Singleton and Mary Barton, to name a few.

The program features Douglas Martin’s “Ephemeral Possessions,” select portions from Trinette Singleton’s “Cappriccios” and Mary Barton’s “Straight Up With a Twist,” among others.

The performances in the preview are a part of the ARB’s residency at Rider, including master classes for students and lectures for the community.

The ARB and its official school, the Princeton Ballet School (PBS), share a unique and rewarding relationship with Rider. The Princeton Ballet School, which was founded in 1963, allows Rider dance majors and minors to take their required dance courses there, while earning an undergraduate degree in the Fine and Performing Arts with a concentration in dance.

Rider dancers, such as Caroline Asuncion, senior arts administration major, are enthusiastic about the preview.

“I’m pretty excited because we have this residency so it’s really nice to have them come on our campus and show us what they can do because they are very talented,” Asuncion said. “It’s really nice for the dance department to get a taste of what is out in the dance world.”

Ashley Miller, sophomore elementary education and dance major, enjoys the unique relationship.

“I think it’s really cool that we have a partnership with PBS and it was interesting to dance alongside them in the spring show,” Miller said. “We’re very lucky that they perform at Rider and we get to showcase them and they get to showcase us.”

Dr. Kim Vaccaro, associate professor of performing arts, runs the dance program at Rider. She plays a major role in collaborating with the ARB and said that participating in this program opens many doors for Rider dance students.

Sophomore dance major Jacquelyn Oathout enjoys attending the PBS.

“It’s a lot of fun, I’m enjoying this semester taking different classes with different teachers,” Oathout said.
Junior dance major Kel Vallery was also passionate about the experience.

“I have learned so much from the experienced instructors at PBS and I really enjoy having a variety of helpful, enthusiastic teachers,” Vallery said.

According to Vaccaro, members of the Rider faculty were largely responsible for spurring this program and academic relationship into being.

“This opportunity was created by Dr. Patrick Chmel, former chair of the Rider Fine Arts department; Mary Pat Robertson, director of PBS and Harry Ferris, former executive director of ARB as a way to have movement classes for the theater majors,” Vaccaro said. “It developed a life of its own and now has a Bachelor of Arts in dance with 35 majors and 20 minors.”

Depending on what classes they are taking at Rider, students attend the PBS between two and six times per week for classes.

“The partnership offers an opportunity to work with world-class faculty at a major non-profit dance organization and still get a quality liberal arts education in Lawrenceville — the best of both worlds,” Vaccaro said.

According to Vaccaro, dance majors and minors have been able to perform with the company in The Nutcracker through this program. Students have also been given internship opportunities in the Princeton Ballet School and in the administration. They can also receive discounts to ARB performances, among other advantages.

The previews of the upcoming dance season of the ARB will be held in the BLC on Friday at 7:30 and on Saturday at 2. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for senior citizens, non-Rider students, Rider faculty and staff, and $5 for Rider University students.

To order tickets ahead of time go to or call 609-896-7775. Tickets will also be sold at the door.

View a video clip of the American Repertory Ballet’s performance here.

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