University of South Carolina

Ballet Stars of New York perform March 20


Columbia native Sara Mearns, a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, will be one of the featured performers at the fifth annual Ballet Stars of New York Gala Performance at 7:30 p.m. March 20 in the Koger Center for the Arts.

Mearns studied with dance professor Susan Anderson at the University of South Carolina Dance Conservatory. Mearns' brother, Keith, is a former professional dancer who is now a student at Carolina and a member of the USC Dance Company. He also will appear in the performance.

New York City Ballet dancers Wendy Whelan, Albert Evans, and Jared Angle, all of whom have appeared on the Ballet Stars stage in past years, and Daniel Ulbricht also will perform.

The USC Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Donald Portnoy, will perform the music for the ballet. USC Dance associate director Stacey Calvert, a former soloist with the New York City Ballet, will again be creative director for the gala.

"Ballet Stars is a great opportunity for Columbia dance lovers who may not have the opportunity to travel to New York to see a very special brand of world-class talent right here in our city," Calvert said.

The program will include Stars and Stripes and Mozartiana, both by choreographer George Balanchine, and Herman Schmerman Pas de Deux, by choreographer William Forsythe.

Mearns, Ulbricht, and Jared Angle will dance the solo roles in Star and Stripes, which features a cast of 35 dancers. USC dance majors Olivia Anderson and Bonnie Boiter-Jolley also will perform solo roles.

Mozartiana will feature Mearns, Angle, and Ulbricht. Four young dancers from the S.C. Dance Conservatory also will perform under the tutelage of Calvert. Herman Schmerman Pas de Deux will feature New York City Ballet principal dancers Whelan and Evans.

Mearns began her dance training at age 3 with Ann Brodie at the Calvert-Brodie School of Dance in Columbia.

"I was a little girl and my mother put me in dance classes like many moms did," Mearns said. "I loved it and just kept on going with tap, jazz, ballet, and lyrical. By age 12 I knew I was in love with dance and I told my mom that I needed to go to New York to audition for companies."

At 13, Mearns began training with Patricia McBride at Dance Place, the school of the N.C. Dance Theatre, and she continued her studies at age 14 with Stanislav Issaev at the S.C. Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities.

Mearns entered the School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet, in fall 2001. In fall 2003, she became an apprentice with the New York City Ballet. In June 2004, Mearns joined the company as a member of the corps de ballet and was promoted to the rank of soloist in March 2006. She was promoted to principal dancer in June 2008.

"Having a life in professional dance is also about the parents, and them letting go of the child," Mearns said. "My mom was a huge supporter in that."

Having accomplished former students return to dance with current students is a thrill and a goal for Anderson.

"We are all so proud to have had a hand in training Sara, who was a student at the USC Dance Conservatory and the S.C. Summer Dance Conservatory in her youth before entering the School of American Ballet, the training program for the New York City Ballet," Anderson said.

"Her career to stardom as ballerina for the New York City Ballet happened just as planned, and she became an overnight sensation," she said. "She will be the ballerina of the 21st century."

    If you go...

    What: Ballet Stars of NY
    When: 7:30 p.m. March 20
    Where: Koger Center
    Tickets: Students, $15; second balcony, $25; first balcony, $30; orchestra, $35; gala tickets, $150 (includes admittance to pre-concert reception and post-concert dinner dance). For tickets, call the Koger Center box office at 7-2551. To charge by phone, call 251-2222.


By Web Communications

Posted: 03/05/10 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 08/09/11 @ 9:17 AM | Permalink