From California to Miami, Russia, and Rhode Island (to name a few!), Alan Alberto has danced all over the world. We caught up with one of FBP’s leading men to find out how that path led to Providence, what his favorite roles are to perform, and even his best chimichurri recipe…
Hey Alan! Let’s start with a bit of your background.
My family is Argentinean, I’m first generation born American. I grew up playing soccer and was a very athletic kid. I participated in theater and musical theater in school but didn’t begin any type of formal dance lessons until high school. I started dancing at the age of 15 in Miami.
So what was your training like?
I took my first formal ballet class on Valentine’s Day of 2003 at Mencia & Pikieris School of Dance. I knew immediately that I wanted to pursue ballet professionally. I auditioned for The Harid Conservatory and was accepted. I continued my studies at Harid for my Junior and Senior year of high school. Harid’s training is Vaganova, I enjoyed the training and after graduating wanted to continue my studies. I auditioned and was accepted to the Vaganova Ballet Academy (Academy of Russia Ballet) in St. Petersburg, Russia. I completed the upper school, Class 7 & 8, graduated in 2007.
It sounds like your ballet training was pretty well-rounded! Do you think that made it a bit easier to transition in professional life? What was your experience like?
My professional career began as a guest artist with Boca Ballet Theatre as Paris in Romeo & Juliet. After this performance I began my first season with Nashville Ballet in 2007. The transition from student to professional happened rather quickly and was challenging. There were high expectations and pressure to prove myself.
Wow, that must have been intimidating.
I had only been dancing for 4 years before I started working, I was very green but worked really hard. In 2008 I moved to NYC to expand my horizons and continue to grow as an artist.
You’ve had the experience of dancing in quite a few different environments. How do you feel these differing cultures have affected you as an artist?
I’ve been fortunate to have lived and danced in Russia, Florida, Tennessee, New York, Pennsylvania, Croatia, and Rhode Island. These experiences have been wonderful, I’ve met some really beautiful and talented individuals along the way. The differing cultures have broadened my perspective on life, understanding, worth, value, and has taught me gratitude.
Lovely! This is your fifth season with the company. What do you like best about Festival Ballet Providence?
I’m grateful for my work at FBP and the opportunities I’ve been given. I appreciate that we’re a small company and we get to dance a lot.
Speaking of opportunities, you’ve had the pleasure of dancing several principal roles with the company. Do you have any favorites so far?
Romeo, which I just performed last month, is my favorite so far. It’s a role that feels very natural to me and allows me to be genuine with my emotions.
I’ve enjoyed the process of working with such a positive and inspiring choreographer like Ilya Kozadayev. It’s great to work with an artist with such good energy, vision, and passion.
The story is moving, the music is beautiful, the collaboration with Gamm Theatre is exciting, and the choreography is organic.
When you’re not dancing, you are pursuing your business degree at Johnson and Whales. Tell us a bit about why education is so important to you.
Education is extremely important to me. I really enjoy learning and strive to continue to grow every day of my life. I always knew I would get a degree in business, it just had to be the right place and the right time. After settling into my job at FBP, I knew the time was right. JWU is a great fit for me because of the adult program they offer in the evening, I can make it work with the FBP schedule. The business school offers a very well rounded business degree, my concentration is in Operations. I really enjoy business. I hope to translate the knowledge and network I’m building into my future career.
That’s so inspiring. And as if a full time ballet career and school weren’t enough, you’ve also started your own business, Mesa Fresca. Can you tell us a bit about that and what the experience has been like?
Mesa Fresca, the Fresh Table, is a food business my sister and I launched in 2014. We craft premium Hispanic cuisine with all natural & fresh ingredients, currently offering an authentic Argentine chimichurri sauce. Founded on family and community, Mesa Fresca aims to address the gap in the marketplace for authentic, fresh packaged Hispanic food. This summer we will be launching two new products. It’s exciting to see our business grow and expand.
The experience has been wonderful. It’s been fun meeting people in a different community (outside of ballet), getting more involved with individuals working on food policy in RI, and learning from successful & passionate entrepreneurs.
How do you juggle all of that?
I’m able to juggle all of it by keeping very organized and having a supportive family. I have a calendar where I make notes and plan my ballet, school, and Mesa Fresca schedule. My family and friends provide support which allows me to be successful.
Beautiful. So I have a jar of your chimichurri in my fridge and it is super yummy! But I was wondering, what’s your favorite dish to make using the Mesa Fresca chimichurri?
Chimichurri is traditional served over grilled meats. It’s great as a seasoning or marinade for steak, chicken, fish, or veggies. My favorite way to eat it is over sausages.
Grill Italian Sausages (Chorizo)
Lightly toast a French Baguette on grill (when the sausages are almost done)
We asked FBP Summer Dance Intensive student Morgan Ruffalo to tell us why she loves FBP. Here’s what she told us:
Why did you choose to study at Festival Ballet Providence?
Last year I participated in FBP’s Summer Dance Intensive and loved every moment! I knew for sure that I wanted to return the following summer. I am extremely grateful and incredibly fortunate to receive a scholarship from FBP, which has afforded me the opportunity to return for this summer’s senior intensive program.
I chose to study at Festival Ballet Providence because I knew it offered me a well-rounded dance education with rigorous quality training in a wide variety of dance classes such as ballet, variations, partnering, modern, jazz, contemporary, and more. FBP’s SDI is unique to my area because it has an atmosphere of professionalism. The teachers at FBP teach with wisdom from experience as they are current or former professional dancers. In addition to regular classes we have field trips, artist talks, and guest teachers each week.
What makes FBP’s SDI unique in our area?
I chose FBP’s SDI because I knew it would greatly improve my dance technique in even a short amount of time. At FBP, I feel like I have the resources I need to be able to grow to the best dancer I can be.
What does being on a scholarship mean to you?
I am honored to have a scholarship. I am thankful that I am still given the opportunity to dance despite circumstances of financial hardship. I am so grateful to be dancing at FBP with a scholarship because I know that I am supported by my teachers and dance family.
What does dance mean to you?
Dance is a way for me to express myself to others. I always feel a sense of control and serenity in my mind and body when I dance. Even if I am dancing specifically choreographed steps, I still have a feeling of freedom and a sense of individuality. I aspire to be a professional ballerina, as well as a choreographer and dance teacher later in my career. Attending classes at FBP, taking advice from the teachers, and hearing about their dance careers have fueled my passion for dance, which continues to grow each day.
Last week, we gathered together Juliana, Juliet, and Miles – the three youngest members of the FBP Family – to make a poster for our week-long Diaper Drive for Project Undercover, which starts today. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since the three babies arrived back-to-back (almost exactly 10 days apart), and we asked our mothers to reflect on a year they (and we) will never forget.
Juliet “Taught me how to love in a whole new way”
It is amazing to think that one year ago yesterday, Juliet came into this world. She has taught me how to love in a whole new way and opened my heart to a depth of empathy I will always be humbled and grateful for. I am also so grateful that I have been a part of Festival Ballet with Misha as a director as he has welcomed the babies into the world of FBP.
Juliet is constantly dancing, often making her own guitar or drum music to dance to, when her dad isn’t around to play the horn or bass for her to practice her plies and sautes to. The company dancers have been so supportive and understanding, helping during breaks and inviting Juliet and the other babies to join them when there is free space in the studio. Juliet may never want to dance seriously, but it has been such a pleasure for her in this first year to be around music and movement, her face simply lights up and she has to move to. It is something magical and primal and what a wonderful early childhood gift!
It has also been so special having Miles and Juliana sharing these early experiences. They clearly enjoy playing around each other and as a mom it is so nice having other babies and moms to share this journey with. I am so excited for them to continue to grow together and am so truly grateful to be a part of this past year’s Festival Ballet Babies : )
With Juliana, “Our prayers were heard”
After 14 years a new life comes to our family. Having Gabriana, (my first true love) and watching her grow into a amazing “señorita” made this desire stronger. The idea of having a second child had been brewing for some time, I kept putting it off to fulfill my dancing career. Also knowing that the love of a sibling is irreplaceable. Tony and I made our new task. It was not an easy one….frustration, fear, prayers, and many tears. Until the right time came.
We are Blessed indeed. The right time came and we finally told Gabriana we were expecting a baby. Our prayers were heard . We were so happy…so many tears of joy filled our lifes. Finally Juliana arrives. What a joy when Gabriana, Tony, her Godmother (Doctor Cavanaugh, who also delivered the baby) and I watch her for the first time.
We had that feeling of knowing her already for a long time. It has been a year of many changes for many, including my coworkers. It would have been quite difficult to do it all without the support of Festival Ballet members. I was allowed to work while breast feeding and taking breaks to change diapers. My family is so grateful. We thank you for the support. I am privileged to say that work is like a family.
I honestly thought the second time around would be easier. I was so wrong. It’s another first time. Having a newborn and a teenager full of activities was definitely challenging. Preparing Ballet lessons family lunches and dinners, getting baby ready to go to work….ahhhh no wonder my clothes sometimes did not match. I must say I’ve had great support from many including my parents Deysi and Fernando, Tony’s Family, my aunt Milagros, and my great friends Sandra and Betza. So many had helped…
Juliana can feed herself, making art sculptures out of food, walk around the house pretending to clean, and helps me redecorate on a daily basis. The laundry basket is her favorite hang out place, especially when it magically turns and swings. She has three hide out places, under her crib, behind the curtain in Mami’s room, and in her sister’s room. And yes….she made up the hide and seek game ‘again.’ Our dogs Lola and Oscar have become her monkey see, monkey do. She wants a treat as well. “Juju” as some of us call her, is a great help in the kitchen. She takes all the pots and pans out so I can easily choose. Juliana also helps me keep my weight down by taking my lunch out of my bag and hiding it inside any box she can find.
She is a very happy, smily, very curious girl that steals hearts, the remote control and car keys. She makes our day better just by smiling.
“A year of overwhelming joy, unwavering fatigue, emotional self-doubt and the most extraordinary love…our first year with Miles.”
Any parent out there will understand when I say that this year has been the most wonderful and most challenging of my life. Miles will be turning one year old and I am bursting with gratitude that he has entered our life, thrown it upside down, and filled it with blissful chaos. It has been one surprise after another as Ty and I have navigated our new roles as parents and as Miles’ personality unfolds daily.
Ty has taken to fatherhood like it was a role he was always destined to play. He is Miles’ constant entertainer, co-care giver, and nap buddy. I always knew Ty would be a fabulous father but what I didn’t know was what an incredible husband he would be to me as a new mother. As a generally confident, self sufficient woman, this past year has at times brought me to my knees. Often 12-hour work days, then up all night with Miles, managing daycare schedules, work schedules, a new house, performing etc. fatigue has never hit me like it has this year. I have had to lean on Ty more than ever and he was there ready to support me even before I leaned in. Miles and I are so lucky.
Life as a dancer is completely different now. I used to be at the studio 30 minutes prior to class to prepare my body for the day, but that time just doesn’t exist in my schedule anymore. I am often coming into class 5 minutes late (if I even make it all) and I am lucky if I don’t get pulled away before class finishes. I don’t have time to think about each step, or role, or musical phrasing like I used to; now I dance much more intuitively. Survival mode. I find that as a teacher and coach my new point of view as a parent is helping me to explore an entirely new way to connect with my students.
I miss Miles every moment of the day that we are not together. Although we have our routine – Miles is at daycare twice a week, with my mom twice a week (such a blessing) and in the studio with us one morning and one afternoon a week – it is constantly up for negotiation. I often second-guess my choice to work as much as I do, to send him to daycare so young, to bring him with us to work. He is my priority and as much as I want him to grow up with the example of parents’ that love what they do for a living, I don’t ever want him to feel like I wasn’t there when I should have been. Sometimes I am proud of how we handle our days and sometimes I am convinced I am doing everything wrong…and then Miles smiles and everything feels better.
We have been blessed to work in a place where Miles is not just welcomed but loved. Misha, the dancers, the staff, and my students have been so amazing with Miles. They are patient and understanding when he is crawling through the studio while they are dancing and they are loving and helpful if we need someone to watch him while we rehearse. I could never have expected such gracious friends for Miles to grow up around. He is enjoying the most special childhood because of them.
Becoming Miles’s mother has been the greatest gift. He teaches me and guides me daily on our adventures together. I am so honored to be loved by that little face; when he reaches out his arms to me and wants to snuggle; there is no place I would rather be. I am grateful every time Miles’ calls for mommy at 3am or needs a diaper change just as we are leaving the house, and for every time I am rushing to pick him up on time at day care or kissing him after returning late from a performance. I will continue to work as hard as I can for Miles and make loving my family my number one priority. Happy Birthday Miles! Mommy loves you!
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A HUGE shout-out to the moms and dad for sharing their thoughts with us, and for getting their baby’s feet covered in paint so we could make this adorable poster for the diaper drive. THANK YOU!
Most importantly: Please help us help less fortunate babies by donating unopened packages of diapers, underwear, and socks to our Project Undercover diaper drive at our location on Hope Street. We are open M-F 9am-8:30pm and Saturday 8:30am-4pm.
Also thanks to Kirsten Evans for painting lettering on the poster (believe it or not, the babies did not want to do the letters) and Ty Parmenter for photographing the adorable event.
Students from FBP School will celebrate peace at Peace Fest RI, September 19 from 1:00 to 4:30 pm at Burnside Park/Kennedy Plaza. The Dance for Peace will take place around 3:00pm. Those wishing to participate can view the teaching video below to learn the routine. Don’t forget to wear your FBP t-shirts!
FBP’s summer is about to heat up with the start of our Summer Dance Intensive (SDI), drawing 90 students (!!) ages 9 through pre-professional. The program attracts dancers from around the region and across the country (as far as Arkansas, Florida, and Tennessee!). The program is made up of two separate courses: a 4-week advanced course (Senior) running July 5-Aug. 1 and a 2-week intermediate course (Junior) running Aug. 3-Aug. 14.
FBP’s summer course has always been a diverse, enriching curriculum, incorporating many hours of classical ballet training with conditioning, pilates, yoga, and much more. Twenty current and former dancers make up the SDI 2015 faculty; many are FBP dancers and there’s also guest faculty from BalletMet Academy, UNH Dance Department, The Limon Company and Boston Conservatory.
Students will learn a wide-ranging repertoire, including Swan Lake Act II and an excerpt from Jose Limon‘s “A Choreographic Offering.” (Video sample below)
Each program will perform at the FBP Black Box Theatre, and the Senior program will also close with a once-in-a-lifetime performance at Waterfire Providence on August 1st.
A photo posted by Festival Ballet Providence (@festivalballetprovidence) on
So keep an eye out for our students around town who will be sporting these awesome new shirts designed by embee studio. We can’t wait for SDI 2015 to start up on Monday. Happy 4th of July…see you all next week!
SHURA BARYSHNIKOV is a Rhode Island-based educator, improvisor, dancer and movement designer. Shura has worked as a choreographer and movement consultant for Trinity Repertory Company, The Wilbury Theatre Group, Bridge Repertory Company, Elemental Theatre Collective and on a number of Brown/Trinity MFA productions. As a freelance dancer, she has performed in works by Heidi Henderson, Ali Kenner-Brodsky and Betsy Miller, among others, and with Aerplaye Dance, American Dance Legacy Initiative, Lostwax Multimedia Dance and Festival Ballet Providence. Shura is a teaching associate in the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University and has also taught movement and choreographed for students at MIT, Dean College, Rhode Island College, Salve Regina University and at Earthdance in Plainfield, MA. Shura’s performance work has been presented by the RISD Museum, Festival Ballet Providence, the Providence Fringe Festival and in Earthdance’s Moving Arts Lab.