Celebrating, honoring a champion of the arts

It could be argued that in her 40-year career as a champion of the arts in Rhode Island, Iona Dobbins did more to foster the growth and quality of art in this state than any single person before or after her. Iona – who passed away in July, 2012 – was the executive director of the RI State Council on the Arts, president of the Art League of RI, and a dear friend and supporter of FBP (last year’s Together We Dance 2 gala was in honor of Iona and her contributions to FBP).

Now, Iona’s legacy lives on in what is poised to be a powerful annual event honoring Iona’s legacy and recognizing the rich products of her life’s work. The first ever “IonaFest” will take place on Saturday, September 28, 2013 and will bring together a diverse collection of arts organizations from around the state.

Iona Fest

Central to this new event is the “IF” (IonaFest) award, which is given to a person who exemplifies Iona Dobbins’ fearless and universal love of the arts in RI. There is an open call for nominations, with a deadline of June 30 for this award. The award recipient will be selected on the following criteria:

The recipient of the IF Award will be an individual, from any walk of life, who embodies Iona Dobbins’ generosity and leadership in the arts community. The nominee should reflect Iona’s great skill at convening diverse artists and audiences; her tireless advocacy for all art forms; and her profile as an honest broker who crossed boundaries, everywhere present wherever art was being made, shown or dreamed.

To nominate an individual, or to learn more about the first annual IonaFest, please go to http://ionafest.org/


Meet the Dancers: Harry Yamakawa

Harry Yamakawa
Harry Yamakawa

Originally from Japan, Harry received formal training with Nowa Ballet School in Kanagawa, Japan, as well as with John Cranko School in Stuttgart, Germany. Before joining Atlanta Ballet, Harry performed with National Company of Portugal (CNB), Colorado Ballet, Nashville Ballet and Atlanta Ballet. Also, Harry performs often as a guest in Japan. Harry enjoys both classical and contemporary work, such as a recent summer workshop with Complexions in New York.  His repertory includes the Nutcracker Prince and Cavalier from The Nutcracker, James from La Sylphide, Peter from Peter and the Wolf, and various roles inSwan Lake, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Who Cares?, Kazimir’s Colours, Dracula, Four Seasons, Moments of Dis, Rush, Eden/Eden, and Prayer of Touch.  Harry is excited to be a part of Festival Ballet Providence and thankful to his family in Japan and the USA.


Meet the Dancers: Toleu Mukanov

Toleu Mukanov
Toleu Mukanov

Born in Kazakhstan, Toleu received his early training at the Almaty Choreographic College and later on graduated from Kyrgyzstan Ballet School. In 2002 he was a gold medal recipient at the International Ballet Competition in Crimea, Ukraine, and in 2006 he received a silver medal at the Almaty Ballet Competition. Immediately upon graduation he joined Astana Ballet in Kazakhstan. Later on he danced with Kyrgyzstan’s Opera and Ballet Theatre, Moscow’s Russian Ballet Theatre and Russian National Ballet Company. His past roles include: Basilio in Don Quixote, Golden Idol in La Bayadere, Ali inLe Corsaire, James in La Sylphide, Franz in Coppelia, Joker in Swan Lake, Blue Bird in Sleeping Beauty, Peasant Pas de Deux in Giselle. Toleu joined Festival Ballet Providence in April 2012 and this past season was his first full season as a company member.


Backstage at the RISD Fashion Show

This season, Little Red Riding Hood was the show that wouldn’t die…not that we wanted it to! After a cancelation due to the blizzard (in February) and adding additional shows due to popular demand (In April), the final act of this ballet came this past weekend, at the RISD “Collection 2013” fashion show. The dancers were asked to adapt a short piece from the ballet and perform it atop the 8 ft x 80 ft runway. It was a big honor and an awesome event with some of the most creative young designers around.

Getting makeup done by the Maybelline team

Picture 1 of 6

Getting makeup done by the Maybelline team


Meet the Dancers: Elizabeth Mochizuki

Elizabeth Mochizuki
Elizabeth Mochizuki

Born in California, Ms. Mochizuki received her early training in Fresno with Diane Mosier. Her professional career began with the 1999/2000 season as an apprentice with Festival Ballet Providence, during which she was a full-time college student in Boston. Ms. Mochizuki has since appeared with Anna Myer and Dancers, BalletRox, Boston Dance Company, Dance Currents, Ithaca Ballet, Jose Mateo’s Ballet Theatre, Spindle City Ballet, and State Street Ballet. Her classical repertoire includes: Aurora in Sleeping Beauty,Sugar Plum Fairy in Nutcracker, Taglioni in Pas de Quatre, and the title role in Cinderella, Giselle, Raymonda, Snow White, and Sylvia. Elizabeth has also worked with such accomplished contemporary choreographers as Gianni DiMarco, William Soleau, and Josie Walsh. Ms. Mochizuki holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from Tufts University. After a 12-year hiatus, Ms. Mochizuki returns to FBP for her second season.


Some final thoughts on a beautiful 35th season…

35th season thank you 1
Photo by A. Cemal Ekin

The 35th season of Festival Ballet Providence was a resounding success…thanks to you – our amazing audience.

At Festival Ballet Providence, presenting world-class ballet to this city – already rich with arts and culture – is both our calling and our passion. This season, we tackled that mission head-on, presenting a season that was as artistically diverse as it was technically challenging.



35th season thank you 2(Left) FBP Company performing in Together We Dance 2; (right) students from FBP’s adaptive dance program performing in Together We Dance 2. Photos by Thomas Nola-Rion

We were thrilled to open our season with the second year of our all-star gala, Together We Dance 2, which showcased the best that the international ballet world has to offer – FBP was well represented among these stars of ballet. FBP’s adaptive dance program was highlighted for the second year in a row at Together We Dance 2; the opportunity for these vibrant children to perform on the same stage as internationally renowned ballet stars was a treasured moment not soon forgotten.

We are happy to announce that Together We Dance will be back to open our 36th season this fall. Stay tuned for the full season announcement in the coming weeks.

Together We Dance 2 was also a chance to showcase five new company dancers, all of whom shaped this season into a fresh and exciting experience for both the company and the audience. Ruth Whitney and Alan Alberto (pictured above left) captivated audiences with each new performance. Together, the pair danced as partners in every production of our season in a total of six unique and exciting pas de deux.



(left) FBP apprentice Madeleine Issa with her RISD designer Fatoumata Camara; (center) Emily Loscocco and Kirsten Evans in Agon. (right) Ruth Whitney and Alex Lantz in Orchis. Agon choreography by George Balanchine (c) The George Balanchine Trust. Center photo by A. Cemal Ekin; Right photo by Dennis Goulet.(left) FBP apprentice Madeleine Issa with her RISD designer Fatoumata Camara; (center) Emily Loscocco and Kirsten Evans in Agon. (right) Ruth Whitney and Alex Lantz in Orchis. Agon choreography by George Balanchine (c) The George Balanchine Trust. Center photo by A. Cemal Ekin; Right photo by Dennis Goulet.

The collaboration with RISD design students in Little Red Riding Hood (pictured above) produced a unique and exciting ballet. This creative partnership laid the groundwork for what we hope will be a productive and unique relationship in coming seasons.

Agon & Orchis, our double-bill of groundbreaking collaborations, was a big moment for FBP. The opportunity to perform one of the greatest collaborations in ballet history – Agon – was a responsibility not taken lightly. The FBP company worked diligently to reproduce the intricate and specific choreography of George Balanchine, one of the most influential choreographers to ever live.

The most important world-premiere of our season (already abundant with world-premiere choreography in Up Close on Hope) was also the most daunting. Orchis was a monumental undertaking of “artistic coordination” between the wide-ranging talents of artists, dancers, designers, and choreographers. On stage, this collaboration shined; both the audience and the dancers were left in awe of the emotion and power of this unique ballet.



Mindaugas Bauzys and Vilia Putrius in Act III of The Sleeping BeautyMindaugas Bauzys and Vilia Putrius in Act III of The Sleeping Beauty

It could be said – in a very lofty sense – that we ended this whirlwind season where it all began. The Sleeping Beauty can be credited with laying the groundwork for classical ballet as we know it today. In all its majesty and elegance, the ballet is also a bastion of technique and power, making it a perfect way to bring our 35th season to a close. FBP handled this challenge gracefully, and the production left audiences in awe of such a grand spectacle.

Much like the story of The Sleeping Beauty, ballet itself begins in childhood. Every season, FBP is able to bring the magic of ballet to thousands of children through Discover Dance, our series of school performances. These audiences are consistently the most enthusiastic and exuberant, a terrific reward for the company onstage. Our educational outreach also goes directly into schools (pictured below), teaching dance and choreography to local children. The opportunity to learn from professional dancers in a hands-on environment is one these children may not have ever had.

Educational Outreach director Dylan Giles at Nathan Bishop middle school in Providence. Photos by Shana Santow.Educational Outreach director Dylan Giles at Nathan Bishop middle school in Providence. Photos by Shana Santow.

On behalf of Artistic Director Mihailo Djuric, the FBP Board of Trustees, the talented company of dancers from around the world, and the wonderful staff and volunteers who make this organization run, we thank you – our audience – for your love and support. We’ll see you in the fall for our 36th season.

In the meantime, stay connected with us here on the FBP Blog, Facebook, and Twitter, where you can find out about all of the exciting events and programs at FBP in the summer.

Have a fantastic summer!

– Festival Ballet Providence


Hope Street Spring Block Party

We can’t think of a better place to call home than Hope Street…a beautiful place to work, live, and play. We’re lucky and grateful to have such awesome neighbors on Hope Street!

It’s the perfect time of year for another Hope Street Block Party, sponsored by the Hope Street Merchants Association and Providence Monthly. This Saturday from Noon-6:00, come out and celebrate spring with the best neighborhood in Providence!

We’re excited to host another Beers for the Ballet fundraiser – for the second year – in our very own parking-lot-turned-beer-garden. Five local breweries are on board this year: Foolproof Brewing Company, Grey Sail Brewing of RI, Trinity Brewing, Narragansett Brewing Company and Newport Storm Brewery. Thanks to all of these great breweries for donating to our fundraiser!

Come out and support the ballet, enjoy great music from local bands, grab a bite from a gourmet food trucks, and take in the beautiful spring weather in Providence!



In rehearsal – Grand pas de Deux

Meet the Dancers: Ian Matysiak

Ian Matysiak
Ian Matysiak

Mr. Matysiak, a native of West Boylston, Massachusetts, started his intensive ballet training after getting accepted into the Walnut Hill School, a premier performing arts boarding school. Upon graduating, Ian studied with the Boston Ballet Center for Dance Education in the school’s advanced level. Throughout the years, he has attended summer programs at the School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and the FBP Center for Dance Education. With Festival Ballet Providence, Ian has performed in Giselle, Eldar Aliev’s A Thousand and One Nights,Viktor Plotnikov’s Cinderella and The Widow’s Broom, and in Gianni DiMarco’s Fiesta Italiano. This is Mr. Matysiak’s fifth season with FBP.


The Sleeping Beauty – In Rehearsal