American Ballet Theatre Soloist Katherine Williams to Dance Sugar Plum Fairy
CHICAGO — A&A BALLET (A&A), under the artistic direction of Anna Reznik and Alexei Kremnev, has announced the principal casting for “The Art Deco Nutcracker” (© 2017 Alexei Kremnev), which will be performed at Chicago’s Studebaker Theatre at 410 S. Michigan Ave, November 30-December 2, 2018.
“The Art Deco Nutcracker” will star American Ballet Theatre soloist Katherine Williams as the Sugar Plum Fairy, American Ballet Theatre company member Aran Bell as her Cavalier and BalletMet company member Michael Sayre as the Nutcracker Prince. Alongside them will be Reznik as Mrs. Staulbaum and Kremnev as Drosselmeyer, with American Ballet Theatre’s National Scholar Grace Curry featuring as one of the Claras. Kremnev also announced today that the performance is scheduled to include a record-setting 175 dancers on stage at once.
Set in 1920s America, Kremnev’s “The Art Deco Nutcracker,” featuring Tchaikovsky’s beloved score, is a fresh, yet traditional take on the beloved holiday favorite. The Chicago Tribune has described it as “A glossy rendition filled with gorgeous, glitzy costumes” and The Cincinnati Enquire writes that Kremnev has “brought dance to a whole new level.”
“The Art Deco Nutcracker” is Kremnev’s eighth full-length ballet. His work has been presented at the world-renowned Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Lincoln Center in New York, and the Opernhaus Zurich in Switzerland, among other prestigious venues across the globe. The Huffington Post describes his choreography as “encompassing the best and brilliance of what movement can be while breaking boundaries of what we know.” Tickets for Kremnev’s “The Art Deco Nutcracker” are available now at www.aacenterfordance.org/box-office.
Alexei Kremnev founded A&A BALLET with Anna Reznik in 2016. He also has his own distinguished career in ballet as a dancer. In 2001, Kremnev was recognized as one of the Most Influential People in the Arts in Cincinnati and was elected to the Advisory Board on Eastern Europe for Illinois under Senator Mark Kirk in 2011. Under his leadership, the Southold Dance Theatre was named Outstanding School at YAGP in 2008, and the Joffrey Academy of Dance claimed the same title at YAGP every year they participated in 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2016. Kremnev’s artistic vision was essential in the creation and success of the Gala of the International Ballet Stars in Cincinnati, Children’s Ballet Theatre Series, and Winning Works: Choreographers of Color at the Joffrey Ballet. During his time as Artistic Director of the Joffrey Ballet Academy and the Joffrey Studio Company, Kremnev created sixteen new works at the Joffrey. In 2013, Kremnev received the Achievement Award in Culture from the Chicago Sister Cities International (CSCI), and the Business Leaders Award from the American Councils for International Education and Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the United States Department of State in 2017.
Anna Reznik founded A&A BALLET with Alexei Kremnev in 2016. Prior to that, she had her own illustrious ballet career. She was featured nationwide in the PBS Holiday Specials “Love is Here to Stay” and “A Family Thanksgiving.” In 2002, Reznik was recognized as one of the most influential people in the Arts in Cincinnati. She has been praised for her extraordinary ability to work with today’s young dancers. Her thorough knowledge of the most current teaching methods and styles has produced many dancers who have been accepted into some of the most prestigious companies worldwide, including American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Staatsoper Berlin, Dresden Semperoper, Norwegian National Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater, Polish National Ballet, Estonian National Ballet, New Zealand Royal Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Alberta Ballet, Les Grands Ballet Canadiens, Cincinnati Ballet, Ballet Met, Kansas City Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Sarasota Ballet, Ballet San Jose, Tulsa Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Dortmund Ballet, Complexions and many others. In 2007, 2017 and 2018 Reznik received the Outstanding Teacher Award at the YAGP. Under her leadership, the Southold Dance Theatre was named Outstanding School at YAGP in 2008, and the Joffrey Academy of Dance claimed the same title at YAGP every year they participated in 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2016. Reznik also received the Achievement Award in Culture from the Chicago Sister Cities International (CSCI) and is a former founding Artistic Director of the Joffrey Academy and the Joffrey Studio Company.
American Ballet Theatre Soloist Katherine Williams was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and began her early training with the Hawaii State Ballet. She studied at the Ballet Royal Institute in Baltimore before joining the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in 2005. She was awarded the Youth Grand Prix at the 2003 Finals of the Youth America Grand Prix in New York and was a Top 12 Finalist at the 2005 Finals. In 2003, she was awarded a full scholarship to the Boston Ballet Summer Dance program. From 2004 to 2006, she attended American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensives as a National Training Scholar and in 2006, she also attended the Stiefel and Stars Summer Program. She joined the ABT Studio Company in January 2007, became an apprentice with the main company in December 2007 and a member of ABT’s corps de ballet in June 2008. Her repertoire with the Company includes a Shades soloist in La Bayadère, an Odalisque in Le Corsaire, a Flower Girl and Driad Queen in “Don Quixote,” peasant pas de deux, Moyna and Myrta in “Giselle,” Spanish Dance and one of the Nutcracker’s Sisters in Ratmansky’s “The Nutcracker,” the Fairy Violente, Gold Fairy and Cinderella in Ratmansky’s “The Sleeping Beauty,” the pas de trois, a big Swan and Italian Princess in “Swan Lake” and roles in “Airs,” “Company B,” “Continuo,” “Her Notes,” “In the Upper Room” and “Jardin aux Lilas.” Williams created roles in “AfterEffect,” “Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once” and “Songs of Bukovina.”
American Ballet Theatre company member Aran Bell was born in Bethesda, Maryland. He began studying ballet at age four, receiving the majority of his early training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and with Denys Ganio in Rome, Italy. He continued his training with Fabrice Herrault in New York City and Magaly Suarez in Florida. He spent several summers at The Royal Ballet School in London and at American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive in New York City. Bell’s awards include the Hope Award at the Youth America Grand Prix Finals in New York City in 2009 and 2010, followed by the Junior Grand Prix in 2011, Grand Prix at the Milan International Ballet Competition (2010), the Premio Positano (2011), the Premio Amalfi Young Talent Award (2012), Gold Medal at Tanzolymp Berlin (2012), Gold Medal and Audience Choice Award at Rieti International Ballet Competition (2012), the Premio Roma Jia Ruskaja (2012) and the Premio Capri Danza International Award (2014). He has performed in galas throughout Europe and the United States. Bell was featured in the 2011 film “First Position: A Ballet Documentary.” Bell joined the ABT Studio Company in September 2014, joined the main Company as an apprentice in May 2016 and became a member of the corps de ballet in March 2017.
BalletMet company member Michael Sayre started dancing at age 3 at Southold Dance Theater in his hometown of South Bend, Indiana. He began training under Anna Reznik and Alexei Kremnev at age 9 at Southold and continued his training with them at the Joffrey Academy of Dance in Chicago. After graduating from the trainee program at Joffrey, he joined BalletMet in 2013. Over his five years at BalletMet, he has performed soloist and principal roles in ballets by choreographers such as Edwaard Liang, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Val Caniparoli and others. Some of his most memorable roles in story ballets include Mercutio in “Romeo and Juliet,” Hilarion in “Giselle,” the Prince in “Cinderella” as well as the Nutcracker Prince in “The Nutcracker.” Last season, Michael had the privilege of performing the improvisation solo at the beginning of Ohad Naharin’s “Minus 16” and dancing James Kudelka’s “Man in Black.”
Grace Curry (American Ballet Theatre) is 2017-2018 ABT’s National Scholar. She was awarded with Grand Prix in the Junior Age Division at the Youth America Grand Prix in 2017, and at the 2017 Youth America Grand Prix Finals in New York, Curry finished in the top 12 in both the Classical Dance and Contemporary Dance categories representing A&A BALLET at the Lincoln Center. She performed the titular role in Kremnev’s production of “Cinderella” in May 2018.
A&A BALLET, based in Chicago’s historic Fine Arts Building on Michigan Ave. currently in residence of the American Rhythm Center, is devoted to training in strong, versatile dance technique, as well as the development of personality, independence and artistry. Led by internationally acclaimed artists and former Founding Artistic Directors of the Joffrey Academy and Joffrey Studio Company, Anna Reznik and Alexei Kremnev, A&A offers a wide variety of classes, professional performance opportunities, private instruction, choreography and training for dancers ranging from age 3 to adult. To date, A&A students have secured 60 full scholarships and nine apprentice and studio company positions with powerhouses including American Ballet Theater, Houston Ballet, Princess Grace Academy of Monaco, Bolshoi Ballet, Colorado Ballet, BalletMet and Sarasota Ballet. For more information visit aacenterfordance.org or call 312.545.2142.
Carol Fox & Associates: Nick Harkin