What you need to know before heading to “The C Project” at WaterFire

Waterfire CC Banner-01We are just days away from unveiling our wide-ranging program – The C Project! Here are some details you might want to know before heading to the show at WaterFire this weekend:

  • The July 26 event (C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C) aims to bring awareness to Hepatitis C, a viral infection affecting 1 in 30 baby boomers. A staggering 70% of people with the virus don’t know they are infected.
  • FBP’s performance will begin around 8:15pm at the Waterplace Basin Stage (view on Google Maps).
  • Arrive early to get a good spot to sit. With the weather expected to be gorgeous, we anticipate a big turnout for this show.

    The "open rehearsal" on July 12 drew a great crowd!
    The “open rehearsal” on July 12 drew a great crowd!
  • There will be two pieces prior to the lighting of the braziers. Three pieces will follow the lighting. Download the full program here [PDF].
  • The program features a range of choreographic styles, from classical ballet (“Paquita Polonaise”) to contemporary ballet (“Eleanor Rigby”, “@ Last”, “Hey Jude”) to modern dance (“Helplessly Hoping”).
  • Two FBP Company Dancers – Alex Lantz and Elizabeth Mochizuki – will perform a piece titled “Eleanor Rigby” choreographed by another company member, Louisa Chapman. Read more about that piece here.
  • The other four pieces will be performed by students of the FBP Summer Dance Intensive 2014, a four week program drawing advanced ballet students from around the region.SDI-logo
  • Use the hashtag #theCproject on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share your thoughts, photos, and viewpoints on the pieces. Tag us using the handles below:

The C Project – Ashley Perez

Guest choreographer and SDI 2014 faculty member Ashley Perez gives insight into the story of her piece for “The C Project”

Inspired by the stories of people affected by Hepatitis C, I wanted to convey the story of struggling with loss. The piece starts with a couple, and she wakes to realize that he is no longer there. He has recently lost his battle with Hepatitis C and she needs to find a way to move on. She wakes up wondering how she is going to carry on day-to-day, feeling as if she is alone in her devastation.

As she ventures into the world, she realizes that everyone is carrying their own losses and baggage, but they still manage to continue on and find joy in their daily lives. Though she struggles, she learns that he will always be by her side carrying her through life.

At the end of the piece she wakes up missing him, realizing that this was all a dream, but feels more fulfilled knowing that she will never be truly alone.

Through researching this topic, my eyes were definitely opened to the pain that a disease like Hepatitis C causes, and I hope that this inspires others to become more educated about this disease.

– Ashley Perez

The C Project is a collaboration between Festival Ballet Providence, RI Defeats Hepatitis C and WaterFire Providence, the program aims to bring awareness to the Hepatitis C virus, which affects 1 in 30 baby-boomers, many of whom don’t even know they are infected.

The free outdoor performance will take place at the Waterplace Park amphitheater, around 7:30pm on Saturday, July 26.

Ashley Perez
Ashley Perez

Ashley Perez began dancing at a very young age and trained in numerous styles, but quickly found her love for ballet. She went on to dance as a soloist with Ballet San Antonio and a principal soloist with Corpus Christi Ballet. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Public Relations. Ashley has had the pleasure of learning from some of the world’s most beloved dancers including Jillana, Maria Tallchief, Allegra Kent, Bart Cook, Maria Calegari, Kyra Nichols, Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden. Since moving to New York, Ashley has found her passion in musical theatre, jazz, and aerial contortion. She has been lucky enough to perform as a principal in the critically acclaimed The Orion Experience Off-Broadway and many other shows both onstage and television. Ashley is an Instructor and the Special Projects Coordinator at Physique 57 in New York City.



The C Project – Louisa Chapman

FBP dancer and choreographer Louisa Chapman gives some insight into the creation of her piece for “The C Project”, titled “Eleanor Rigby” set to The Beatles song of the same name.

When researching Hepatitis C for this project, what most struck me were the testimonials of those affected by the disease. There was a pervading sense of loneliness and fear as ignorant friends turned against them, not knowing how the disease was spread. Parents feared that their children’s schools would find out and in many cases expel the child.

I chose The Beatles’ song, “Eleanor Rigby” because it was era appropriate for the generation most affected by the disease and captured the lonely and invisible feeling a Hepatitis C positive person might feel. It has been great working with dancers Beth Mochizuki and Alex Lantz who donated their talents and time. In the piece, Beth is searching for help, trying to get Alex to notice her but he remains stern and unyielding. He often falls into robotic walking along his own path, not to be bent or stopped by Beth.

I wanted the piece to end, however, with the feeling of hope that should fill the air on Saturday night so I added a section to “Let it be”. In this section Alex returns, acknowledging Beth’s trials and supporting her. They dance through it as a team. I hope this piece invites people to reach out to those dealing with Hepatitis C; to treat them with the same love and friendship they would want for themselves.

The more awareness there is about this disease, the easier that future should be.

– Louisa Chapman

The C Project is a collaboration between Festival Ballet Providence, RI Defeats Hepatitis C and WaterFire Providence, the program aims to bring awareness to the Hepatitis C virus, which affects 1 in 30 baby-boomers, many of whom don’t even know they are infected.

The free outdoor performance will take place at the Waterplace Park amphitheater, around 7:30pm* on Saturday, July 26.

* This time has changed since our most recent post. “The C Project” performance will begin at 7:30pm, prior to the lighting of Waterfire. The braziers will be lit during “The C Project” intermission.

Louisa Chapman
Louisa Chapman

Originally from Midland, Texas Louisa Chapman grew up dancing at Midland Festival Ballet under Susan Clark. She attended summer programs including Milwaukee Ballet, Kaatsbaan Extreme Ballet, Joffrey New York, and Alonzo King Lines and was a regional finalist in Youth American Grand Prix and received the Southwest Regional Dance Association scholarship in 2009. She joined Nashville Ballet 2 in 2010 performing Swan Lake and Carmina Burana and the premiere of Gina Pattterson’s Anne Frank. In 2011 she joined BalletMet in Columbus, OH performing The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Carmen under the direction of Gerard Charles. Ms. Chapman joined Festival Ballet Providence in Rhode Island in 2012 . She has performed such works as fairy Coulante in The Sleeping Beauty, first Pas De Trois from Balanchine’s Agon, and the conductor in Viktor Plotnikov’s Sharps and Flats. Her choreographic works include Living Room Vignettes, performed by the company in March of 2014 and Prodigal, premiered at an arts festival in David, Panama in July.


The C Project – Andrea Dawn Shelley

Ballet Teacher and Choreographer Andrea Dawn Shelley speaks about her choice of music and the meaning behind her choice of movement and choreography for “The C Project.”

“Through a distinct movement vocabulary inspired by those who battle with the Hep C virus, I chose to try and emulate the Hep C virus coursing through ones veins and infecting its victim; one of the major vital organs, the kidneys. A particular set of dancers are representative of those who carry the virus, another grouping represent the viral strand and one, lone dancer and his allegiance are symbolic of the cure.  By choosing music by Etta James who had long battled with addictions, poor health and the Hep C virus, I was looking to achieve a deeper connectivity to the work.  Somberly, Ms. James eventually succumbed to her many additional health issues at a relatively young age.  Nevertheless, her infamous ballad, “At Last” really struck a chord with me.  These specific, silky words provided me with further inspiration in that, “At Last” on a positive note, they have found a cure.  Ultimately, I desire for the audience to experience a bit of contained chaos and struggle (similar to that of the human body playing host to this aggressive virus) and in the end, perseverance.”

– Andrea Dawn Shelley

The C Project is a collaboration between Festival Ballet Providence, RI Defeats Hepatitis C and WaterFire Providence, the program aims to bring awareness to the Hepatitis C virus, which affects 1 in 30 baby-boomers, many of whom don’t even know they are infected.

The free outdoor performance will take place at the Waterplace Park amphitheater, shortly after sunset at 8:11pm on Saturday, July 26.

Andrea Dawn Shelley
Andrea Dawn Shelley

ANDREA DAWN SHELLEY born in Miami, Florida received her classical ballet training from Magda G. Auñon and holds a BA in Dance Education from Florida International University. Andrea began her professional career with Southern Ballet Theatre and has since danced as a principal artist with Maximum Dance Company, Miami Contemporary Dance Company, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater and State Street Ballet. Ms. Shelley currently dances as a principal artist and is the Co-Founding Associate Artistic Director of iMEE Dance Company. As a choreographer, Shelley has created original and commissioned works for Ballet Florida, Miami Contemporary Dance Company, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, State Street Ballet, E.magine Dance Ensemble, O Dance, Ad Deum Dance Company, The Dance Gallery Festival, Houston Metropolitan Dance Company, Island Moving Co. and iMEE, which have been presented in California, Florida, Texas, New York, Rhode Island & Italy. She has received numerous awards for her choreography; including the commissioning of a new work for The Dance Gallery Festival’s, Level UP in New York City, the nomination as a “Finalist” in the 15th Annual Choreography Festival in Palm Desert, CA, awarded the Gold Medal for an ensemble work at the World Ballet Competition in Orlando, FL. Ms. Shelley has had the honor of serving as an annual preliminary panelist for the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts, youngArts program in Choreography, Ballet and Modern for the past five, consecutive years. She is also currently on staff as an Adjunct Dance Professor at Salve Regina University in Newport, RI. “iMEE is one of the best dance companies to perform in town this season (and that’s a very high compliment indeed), and gave those present a stunning multi-media show that both dazzled the eye and massaged the
cerebrum. It felt really good.”-Daniel Kepl, Santa Barbara News-Press.



The C Project – choreographer Shura Baryshnikov

Choreographer, Shura Baryshnikov, speaks about her choice of music for “The C Project.”

Crosby, Stills & Nash has been a favorite of mine since I was a young teenager — actually about the same age as the SDI students performing this work.  In particular, I remember finding such incredible beauty in the vocal harmonies — which I still deeply appreciate.  “Helplessly Hoping” is such a emotionally striking and tender song, requiring strong musicality and expression from the dancers, and I choose “Marrakesh Express” to help bring an upbeat and playful edge to the piece as well.  As David Crosby is also a Hepatitis C survivor — having received a liver transplant in the mid 90’s — it seemed an appropriate musical choice for this project as well.  Crosby had not known about his infection until quite late.  In fact, his liver function was down to only 20% when the Hepatitis C was discovered, requiring immediate and life-saving treatment.  Had he been tested earlier, as this campaign proposes, it is likely there could have been earlier intervention.

– Shura Baryshnikov

The C Project is a collaboration between Festival Ballet Providence, RI Defeats Hepatitis C and WaterFire Providence, the program aims to bring awareness to the Hepatitis C virus, which affects 1 in 30 baby-boomers, many of whom don’t even know they are infected.

The free outdoor performance will take place at the Waterplace Park amphitheater, shortly after sunset at 8:11pm on Saturday, July 26.


Shura Baryshnikov
Shura Baryshnikov

FBP School faculty member Shura Baryshnikov is a Rhode Island-based educator, improvisor, dancer and movement designer.  She is a Teaching Associate in the Brown/Trinity MFA Programs and has also instructed at MIT, Dean College and Rhode Island College.  Recent theatrical choreography includes A Christmas Carol for Trinity Repertory Company, Cabaret for The Wilbury Group, and movement consulting for Trinity Rep’s Social Creatures.  Shura also choreographs and advises for Brown/Trinity MFA productions, including recent productions Stone Cold Dead Serious, Tango and Rhinoceros.  As a freelance dancer and performer, she has appeared in works by Heidi Henderson, Ali Kenner-Brodsky and Betsy Miller, among others, and with Aerplaye Dance, American Dance Legacy Initiative, Festival Ballet Providence, Lostwax Multimedia Dance, Elemental Theatre Collective and Workhorse Theatre.  Shura’s contact improvisation project improv/in/sight was recently presented by the RISD Museum and performed in RISD’s Grand Gallery. 


Dancing through Summer

Alan Alberto, FBP Company Dancer
Alan Alberto, FBP Company Dancer

A few thoughts from Alan Alberto, Summer Dance Intensive Director-

The FBP Company may be on their summer hiatus, but in the studios there’s plenty of dance getting underway!

SDI 2014


We’ve been enthusiastically preparing for our Summer Dance Intensive 2014 and it’s finally arrived! It’s hard to believe the time has finally come – preparations have taken more than 9 months, and Mary Ann and I traveled to 12 cities on our National Audition Tour (Sponsored by MotionWear). Now, we are excited to host 105 students at FBP over the next six weeks in both the Senior and Junior intensives.

Our program is aimed to challenge, encourage, excite, and ultimately improve the technique and ability of our students. The rigorous curriculum includes a wide array of classes – from ballet and pointe, to modern and jazz, to men’s classes and even a few field trips!

The Senior and Junior programs will each have their own culminating performances in the FBP Black Box Theatre. All of these are open to the public, and we invite you to see what we have been working on this summer!

  • Senior Intensive performances: July 25, 4:00pm, 7:30pm; Tickets: $25
  • Junior Intensive performance: August 8, 4:00pm; Tickets: $15

The Senior Intensive performances will have an intermission reception with hors d’oeuvres. Tickets will be available for SDI 2014 families on June 28, and will go on sale to the public on July 14.


I’m very excited to announce that we will be returning to Waterfire to perform during the July 26 lighting. The entire evening is called “C is for Cure”, focused on raising awareness about the Hepatitis C virus, in partnership with RI Defeats Hep C.


The performance will take place at the amphitheater at Waterplace Park in the evening on the July 26th. I will pass along further details as we get closer to the event.

“The C Project” will involve dancers from SDI 2014 performing works by three choreographers: Shura Baryshnikov, Ashley Perez, and Andrea Dawn Shelley. FBP Company Dancers will be featured in a piece yet to be determined, but sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Together, these works will represent a unique and powerful collaboration between artists and the medical community to raise awareness about Hepatitis C.

Summer Dance Intensive students during an afternoon performance at Waterplace park in 2011.
Summer Dance Intensive students during an afternoon performance at Waterplace park in 2011.

Open Classes for the Masses

Dance is an experience worth sharing. There are plenty of ways to “partake” in dance this summer, and one of the most exciting – and rewarding – is by taking one of our Adult Ballet classes offered throughout the summer.

Our Adult classes are intended for a wide range of ages and abilities, offered in a supportive, inclusive environment. There are two levels (Beginner & Intermediate) of Ballet and Modern, as well as one level of Conditioning. The full schedule can be found here.

Adult Students in class earlier this week
Adult Students in class earlier this week

It’s going to be a fantastic few months here at FBP, and I can’t wait to see you in the audience, or the studio, or both!


A foundation for the future

A word from FBP School Director Mary Ann Mayer:

An education in dance enriches a child’s overall development and contributes to positive self-esteem and a sense of belonging and worthiness that they will carry for the rest of their lives.

In our Culmination performance this weekend, this positive energy will shine through each of our students. I’m so proud of all of them for their hard work – from the adorable Pre-Ballet II students to our dedicated advanced students.

FBP School Students in Culmination 2013
FBP School Students in Culmination 2013. Photo by Thomas Nola-Rion

FBP School Students in Culmination 2013. Photo by Thomas Nola-Rion.
FBP School Students in Culmination 2013. Photo by Thomas Nola-Rion.

FBP School Students in Culmination 2013. Photo by Thomas Nola-Rion.
FBP School Students in Culmination 2013. Photo by Thomas Nola-Rion.

This year our students’ accomplishments have been many and varied:

  • 9 Students participated in IonaFest (video below),
  • 22 students performed in Together We Dance 3 (photos below),
  • 20 students performed in chatterBOXtheatre performances,
  • More than 100 students performed in Nutcracker,
  • 25 students competed in the regional Youth America Grand Prix competition, two of whom were invited to New York for the finals,
  • 2 students performed a work choreographed by one of their classmates at the Kozlova International Contemporary Choreographers and Dancers Competition,
  • 21 students participated in the first annual Worcester County Dance Festival,
  • 9 young girls went en pointe for the first time,
  • And this Sunday, 25 Pre-Ballet II students will perform on stage for the first time.

FBP School Students reprising their performance of "IonaFest Parasols" piece in "Together We Dance 3", October 2013.
FBP School Students reprising their performance of “IonaFest Parasols” piece in “Together We Dance 3”, October 2013. Photo by Thomas Nola-Rion.

Together We Dance 3
FBP Adaptive Program students Sean Muldoon (front left) and Alyzabeth Bertrand (front right) along with FBP School students in “Together We Dance 3”, October 2013. Photo by Thomas Nola-Rion.

FBP School students in class
FBP School students in class. Photo by A. Cemal Ekin.

For a handful of our students, training here would not be possible without financial aid from a scholarship program that offsets or covers their tuition. But the need for scholarships is far greater than we can currently grant. As a result, many of the financial aid applications that come across my desk are approved for a lesser amount than is needed. In more extreme cases, the students’ needs are met in full, but FBP absorbs the cost without a funding source.

Recently, an anonymous donor joined with the FBP Board of Trustees to present our supporters with a challenge: they will match every “Funding the Future” gift dollar-for-dollar, until we reach our goal of $21,500. “Funding the Future” gifts are split between the newly established “Christine Hennessey Scholarship Fund,” and FBP programming (including commissioning new choreography). Together, these gifts fund the future of dance at both an educational and professional level.

Click here to give a “Funding the Future” gift

Christine Hennessey believed passionately in the power of classical ballet training. Having a strong school would not only enrich the lives of the students, it would also strengthen the company as a whole. It it gives me great joy to take our scholarship program to the next level, and in doing so honor Christine – FBP’s guiding light for its first two decades.

We are currently half-way to our goal of $21,500. Please join the donors who have already voiced their support for the future of dance at FBP. And join us this Sunday for Culmination 2014 (1:30pm or 6:00pm at Sapinsley Hall at Rhode Island College) to see firsthand how truly inspiring these young dancers are.

I am so proud of all of our students, whose dedication and passion is on display daily. Seeing the great joy that dance brings to these children and young adults brings me an even greater joy.

Mary Ann Mayer
Mary Ann Mayer; School Director, Festival Ballet Providence

Mary Ann Mayer
Director, Festival Ballet Providence School


The best feedback

We’re always inspired, intrigued, and generally entertained when we get student responses following one of our Discover Dance school performances. This most recent Peter Pan school show (which filled The Vets almost to capacity) was no exception! Below are some of our favorite responses from a 2nd grade class at Paul Cuffee school (with just a few minor spelling mistakes corrected)

How did the show make you feel? Why?

  • Awesomely awesome. Because flying to Neverland was so cool. (Jalen)
  • Like I was in the show. I felt good! (Alisson)
  • Awesomely awesome ’cause when you (Tinker Bell) and Peter Pan did tricks (Angelli)
  • I love the play because the sword fighting was going on. (Paul)
  • Sad and Happy at the same time. (Gabe)
  • Awesome and cool because there was a lot of action. (Kaia)
  • Awesome because you never messed up! (Carolina)
  • It made me feel tired because it was so interesting. (Alexis)

Who was your favorite character? Why?

  • Peter Pan. He could fly. (Jalen)
  • Peter Pan. Peter Pan can fly. (Ben)
  • Tinker Bell. Because you had pixy dust and because you were pretty! (Angelli)
  • Captain Hook. I picked you because you have a nice mustache. (Xavier)
  • Mr. Smee. You were part of Captain Hook. (Paul)
  • Wendy. You were like an old-timey girl. (Gabe)
  • Wendy. You danced really well. (Carolina)
  • Captain Hook. Because he was a Captain and he liked to fight. (Habeeb)
  • Tinker Bell. Because you were really good at ballet. (Maeve)

I would like to come back to The Vets and see…

  • WINNER: Frozen (8 total)
  • RUNNER UP: Harry Potter (3 total)
  • HONORABLE MENTIONS: The Nutcracker (2 total), How the Grinch Stole Christmas

As if getting these notes wasn’t satisfaction enough, many of the kids drew their favorite characters on the back!

Jalen – Peter Pan

Alisson – Wendy

Ben – Peter Pan

Xavier – Captain Hook

Gabe – Peter Pan and Wendy

Carolina – John, Peter Pan, Wendy, Michael, Tinker Bell

Habeeb – Captain Hook

Alexis – Wendy

A big thank you to all of our school groups who made the school show last Friday morning an unforgettable experience!


Peter Pan Library Workshops

It’s always a real joy to stop by Providence Community Library branches to share the magic of dance with some of our youngest fans. Last week, we had a packed schedule with workshops and demonstrations at five different libraries around Providence.

The kids at each of the locations had a great time, as did the FBP dancers who made it a memory the participants won’t soon forget. They made angel wings (for the girls) and pirate hats (for the boys) and saw a short excerpt of our upcoming production of Peter Pan. They even learned a few steps themselves!


A big THANK YOU to Providence Community Library staff and volunteers, and our wonderful Educational Outreach coordinator Louisa Chapman who coordinated the workshops and even led a few of them herself!



Photos from the Black Box Theatre

In the likely event that you’re already starting to miss our Black Box Theatre programs (sadly, Up Close on Hope and chatterBOXtheatre won’t be back until the 37th season) here are a few shots from our past two programs:

Congratulations to the FBP Company and the FBP Student Company dancers for a great run of chatterBOXtheatre and Up Close on Hope! And, thanks to our dedicated, enthusiastic audience who attended!

And thanks for the Twitter love, Brett Smiley!