Spring Concert Blog Series: Aesha Ash

2019’s Spring Concert

In preparation for our Spring Concert on April 6th and 7th, we’ve chosen the graceful Aesha Ash as the next artist of the 1980’s to present to spotlight.

Aesha Ash posing for the Swan Dreams Project.

Artist Description

Aesha Ash started dancing at the age of 5 years old in Rochester, NY because her older sister wanted to dance. Her sister moved on to cheerleading, but Aesha fell in love with jazz and tap, dreaming of performing on Broadway. As she got older, she excelled in competitions, but they caused her a lot of anxiety. When she decided to move away from competing, she found her love for ballet.

That love, however, came with the pain of both overt and implicit expressions of racism. Aesha was a black girl in the predominantly white world of ballet in a suburban area, which made her a target for ridicule. At the age of 14, she moved to New York City to dance at the School of American Ballet which led to her entry to the New York City Ballet. While dancing with them, her father and sister both died of cancer.

 

Body of Work

Aesha Ash showing girls in her home town of Rochester her pointe.

Aesha attended the School of American Ballet, then was corps de ballet in the New York City Ballet. She then went on to become a soloist with the Béjart Ballet in Switzerland for two years before returning to the US, joining the Alonzo King LINES Ballet in San Francisco. She performed with Alonzo King LINES Ballet for three years until her retirement in 2008. Over the course of her dance career, she had a documentary made about her and performed as a dance double in feature films.

 

Impact

After her retirement from dancing, Aesha wanted to use her platform to expose young African American girls to ballet. She did so by creating the Swan Dreams Project, a photography series of Ash dancing in low-income neighborhoods and the reactions of locals. According to the Swan Dreams Project’s mission, “Through the use of imagery and my career as a ballet dancer, I want to help change the demoralized, objectified and caricatured images of African-American women by showing the world that beauty is not reserved for any particular race or socio-economic background.” In response to the adversity she faced in the ballet world as a black young woman, the Swan Dreams Project was created to challenge the stereotype of what a ballet dancer looks like.


For more information about TAYB’s Annual Spring Concert click here. 

Spring Concert Blog Series: Prince

2019’s Spring Concert

In preparation for our Spring Concert on April 6th and 7th, we’ve chosen Prince Rogers Nelson as the next artist of the 1980’s to present to spotlight.

Prince V Mag

Prince for V Magazine in 2013.

Artist Profile

Prince is known for his flamboyant style and emotional ballads. Both of his parents were musicians and he wrote his first song at seven years old. He grew up extremely poor, once saying in an interview that as a child he would stand outside of McDonald’s just to smell the food; at the time of his death in 2016, his net worth was around $200 million. 

Prince released his debut album at 19 years old, on which he played all 27 instruments. His philosophy toward music was unique. He disliked working on a piece for too long and constantly wanted to move forward in his music. He claimed to record a new song every day, resulting in an impressive breadth of work.

 

Body of Work

Prince Guitar

Prince performing Purple Rain

Prince released a total of 39 albums in his lifetime and one posthumous album. He was a musical force to be reckoned with. In addition to those released album, there are rumored to be 50 full length albums of unreleased music in a vault at his private residential compound, Paisely Park.

While he produced the majority of his work as a solo artists, he formed several short-lived bands throughout his career. As a skilled instrumentalist, vocalist, producer, and writer, his work extended to tens of other artists aside from his own impressive discography.

 

Impact

Many artists cite Prince as an influence. He helped shape the sound of 80’s funk through his use of synthesizers and drum machines. Over 50 hit songs by other artists credit him as a songwriter, and he wrote even more under at least four pseudonyms. 

It can be argued that Prince’s style was as influential as his music; his outfits and makeup disrupted gender norms and expectations. His style was so key to his artistic persona that he employed ten live-in tailors at Paisely Park. After his death, figures from musical artists to then-president Barrack Obama expressed their admiration and sympathy for the late performer. 


For more information about TAYB’s Annual Spring Concert click here. 

Spring Concert Blog Series: Basquiat

2019’s Spring Concert

Thomas Armour Youth Ballet is excited to announce that this year’s Spring Concert will be themed in the period of the 1980s to present! Our Spring Concert will be April 6th and 7th this year. To prepare for the Spring Concert, we will be publishing a series of blog posts spotlighting different artists of the era.

Self-portrait Basquiat completed in 1983.

Artist Profile

Jean-Michel Basquiat started as a street graffiti artist in Brooklyn.His parents began taking him to art museums at a young age. As a result, Basquiat came to admire Picasso and Warhol, whose influences are evident in his work. He began selling sweaters and postcards featuring his artwork around New York. As a self-taught artist, his style is raw and emotive. His work is also fiercely political. In his works, he critiqued consumerism and systems of racism.

 

Body of Work

Untitled (Top Left), Fishing (Top Right), and Grillo (Bottom)

Basquiat incorporated a lot of skulls in his work in a characteristic crayon-like style. He also completed several self-portraits. In his career as an artist, he produced over 1,500 drawings and around 600 paintings.

Impact

Basquiat rose to fame with the Neo-Expressionist wave. Much of his work surrounded the exploration of black identity. Not having the representation of royalty to draw from that white Europeans do, he included the motif of a crown in his works to emphasize the power of everyday black people.

One of the goals of his work was to bring black bodies to the visible forefront of the Western cultural canon. He succeeded in doing so, both in his works and in becoming an artistic legend himself.


For more information about TAYB’s Annual Spring Concert click here. 

Why Our Nutcracker Is The Best Holiday Tradition

With so many holiday performances and activities in Miami, it can be hard to choose the best way to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. Our Nutcracker performance is tried and true! Going on its 42nd year, there are several reasons to choose Thomas Armour Youth Ballet’s magical Nutcracker production.

Why Our Nutcracker Is The Best Holiday Tradition

A White Christmas in Miami

Let our amazing set pieces take you on a journey to a place where it gets below 75 on Christmas Day! From the towering Christmas tree to a magical, snowy forest, it will feel like a real Winter Wonderland. Our show features all-new set pieces and original costuming that create an unforgettable experience.

Why Our Nutcracker Is The Best Holiday Tradition

The Nutcracker Inspires

The Nutcracker has captured the imagination of countless children. Toys come to life and there’s a world made of sweets. But the magic of the Nutcracker goes beyond its story for many dancers, it’s the first production they ever participate in. This cornerstone holiday performance has inspired little dancers for decades!

Why Our Nutcracker Is The Best Holiday Tradition - The Sounds

The Sounds of the Holidays

The Nutcracker wasn’t popular or performed in the US until the 1940s, but its music was world famous soon after its composition in 1892. The enchanting sound of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy is synonymous with Christmas. In addition to the classic sounds of Christmas, hear music inspired by cultures from around the world.

Why Our Nutcracker Is The Best Holiday Tradition

We Capture the Spirit of Christmas Every Year

The Nutcracker opens with a big holiday party, but Christmas is about more than parties and presents. At its core, the Nutcracker is a story about goodwill and compassion. When Clara discovers what Drosselmeier has done to the Nutcracker Prince, she vows to help break the curse.

 

If you still don’t believe that this is the best holiday experience in Miami, join us in the Miami Dade Auditorium and see it for yourself! Click here to purchase tickets for our performance on Saturday, December 1st.

Miss our Spring Concert? We have you covered!

If you clicked this post you probably missed our 25th  Spring Concert. Don’t worry we have you covered! Here’s a quick little recap and the full performance video.

Guest Artists

Our guest artists were incredible! Artists included Francesca Martoccio from Colorado Ballet, Paunika Jones former dancer at Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ayla Wiesz Cyr Wheel performer from The Muse in New York and Miguel Quinones and Steven Vaughn from Open Category Dance Co.

Steven Vaughn & Miguel Quinones | Photo by Gregory Reed

Francesca Martoccio | Photo by Gregory Reed

Paunika Jones | Photo by Gregory Reed

Ayla Weisz | Photo by Gregory Reed

Student Performances

Advanced student performances included pieces from our tap team, contemporary team, and our advanced ballet students.

Thomas Armour Youth Ballet’s Contemporary Team | Photo by Gregory Reed

Motown on Pointe | Photo by Gregory Reed

Allyn Ginns Ayers in Raymonda | Photo by Gregory Reed

Thomas Armour Youth Ballet’s Tap Team | Photo by Gregory Reed

Concert Theme

This year’s concert was inspired by art and culture during the 1950’s through the 1980’s. Rafi Maldonado choreographed a piece to tie in with the theme to music from Motown the Musical.

Motown on Pointe | Photo by Gregory Reed

Exciting Finish!

The coda to tie the whole theme together was done to you should be dancing by the BeeGees and the crowd loved it!

Stephanie Fuentes in the Coda | Photo by Gregory Reed

Now that you have a little preview sit back and enjoy the show!

Haven’t had enough of this year’s Spring Concert? Watch last year’s concert too!

 

What will you see at our Spring Concert?

Every year Thomas Armour Youth Ballet (TAYB) presents a Spring Concert at New World School of the Arts. The tradition dates back 25 years and we are excited for this year’s lineup!

While our name might make you think otherwise, the concert is not just ballet, but rather a combination of different dance genres and styles!

Want a sneak peak of what you might see if you go? Look no further!

Lively performances from the Tap Team!

TAYB began a tap team in 2011 to give our most advanced and talented tap students the opportunity to perform and and perfect their skills.

Excerpts from classical ballets.

It all began with just classical ballet at Thomas Armour Youth Ballet. Classical works are not the full concert anymore but TAYB makes sure to include at least one piece of classical ballet in the concert. 

Performances from several guest artists.

Many TAYB Alumni go on to perform in professional companies or have careers in dance choreography. Every year TAYB alumni are invited to perform as guest artists in the spring concert. Guest artists have included members of the Martha Graham Company, former Alvin Ailey Company members, dancers from Colorado Ballet, and much more.

The Spring Concert always has a theme from a point in history.

This year’s concert theme is 1950 – 1980. To stick with the theme the 2018 concert will present a Motown ballet and original choreography done to music from movies in the time period by our lead ballet teachers Mariana Alvarez and Rosario Suarez.

Exciting performances by our new Contemporary Team.

TAYB’s fairly new Contemporary Team began about two year’s ago and now they perform at TAYB’s annual spring concert. The idea for the Contemporary Team is the same as the Tap Team. All pieces performed by the contemporary team will be choreographed by Stephanie Fuentes, former Martha Graham II member.

Now that you know more about the concert you must want your tickets! This concert is at a very intimate venue so make sure to be the first to get them.

Have you been backstage at the Nutcracker? Check this out.

To get everyone through post Nutcracker blues, we decided to give you a peek into the backstage magic of our favorite annual tradition and share few facts that you may not know about!

  • TAYB’s Nutcracker is the longest running and most diverse production of the Nutcracker in Miami.
  • TAYB welcomes over 10,000 school children every year during the morning week-day performances.
  •  Students from all five sites and New World School of the Arts begin the audition and rehearsal process all the way in August.

This production of the Nutcracker is no ordinary production of the holiday classic it actually has a mission behind it. Now you know a little about the production and you probably want to see it in action behind the scenes!

Before we show you behind the scenes you should know that students from all five TAYB sites and New World School of the Arts begin the audition and rehearsal process all the way in August.

Photo taken by Gregory Reed

Now we are backstage! Clowns and Mice backstage getting their makeup done and waiting patiently to put on their costumes.

Photo taken by Gregory Reed

After all the anticipation the curtain finally goes up!

Mice from Nutcracker junior cast watching the senior dancers in the wings.

Photo taken by Addyson Fonte-Mermell

Snowflakes from senior cast watching principal dancers playing the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier.

Photo taken by Addyson Fonte-Mermell

A view from Clara and the Nutcracker Prince from the wings during the magical snow scene.

Photo taken by Addyson Fonte-Mermell

A view of the The Harlequin Dolls from backstage.

Photo taken by Addyson Fonte-Mermell

Clowns getting final corrections from the director right before going on stage for the second act.

Photo taken by Addyson Fonte-Mermell

Our guest artist Siriu Liu and Rodrigo Almares from Cincinnati Ballet performing the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.

Photo taken by Addyson Fonte-Mermell

 

 

Photo taken by Gregory Reed

To get updates about the Nutcracker and future performances sign up for our email list!

 

Get A Chance To See Our 2017 Spring Concert!

Every year our youth ballet presents a spring concert with excerpts from classical ballets, modern pieces, tap pieces performed by our Tap Team and original work performed by TAYB Alumni. This year we are giving everyone the opportunity to watch the performance on YouTube and hope you will join us for next year’s spring concert!