National Choreographers Initiative

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2015 Choreographers and Dancers

Nicholas BlancNicolas Blanc started his dance training in Montauban (France), continuing at the ‘Academie de Danse Classique Princesse Grace’ in Monte-Carlo. After winning a scholarship in the 1994 Prix de Lausanne, he completed his education at the Paris Opera Ballet School. He went on to dance for Nice Opera Ballet, Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Dusseldorf, Zurich Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, where he was made Principal Dancer in 2004. His repertoire includes lead roles in Balanchine’s Jewels, Square Dance, Divertimento no 15, The Four Temperaments and Tarantella pas de deux. He also danced the leads in Robbins’ Dybbuk and Mats Ek’s Carmen, Benvolio and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet and Cavalier in Nutcracker, and danced in various ballets by Mark Morris, Christopher Wheeldon, and Helgi Tomasson. In 2006 and 2007, he created Amplitude Goldberg and In Search Of for the trainees of San Francisco Ballet School. He also created After Having Been for the International Ballet Competition in Jackson USA. Blanc was part of the Young Choreographers workshop at Scottish Ballet in 2010. Blanc joined Scottish Ballet as Ballet Master in 2009 and has been Ballet Master with The Joffrey Ballet since 2011. That same year, he created Pivotal Frequencies for the students of the Royal Conservatory of Scotland, as well as undertaking a modern dance choreographic lab with Dance House Glasgow. Since then, he has created Purple, Memories of The Future, Unveiled and The Spell for the annual fundraiser for Embarc Chicago, as well as Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s production of Timon of Athens. In July 2014, Blanc received the choreographic award at IBC for his duet Rendez-Vous. His ballet Evenfall, a piece he created for the annual French festival “DanseS en PlaceS”, will premiere at the Joffrey Ballet in spring 2015.
Norbert De La Cruz IIINorbert De La Cruz was born in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines and was raised in East LA. He began studying an array of dance styles at age 13. He trained at the Gabriella Foundation in LA, LACHSA, PAC Annex, Marat Daukayev School of Ballet, American Ballet Theatre NYC, San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, LINES, Northwest Professional Dance Project, NDT Summer Dans Course, and graduated from The Juilliard School (2010) with a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts. He has performed with the Metropolitan Opera House, Aszure Barton & Artists in Germany & Austria, Balletto Teatro di Torino (Italy), Sydney Skybetter & Associates, Santa Clarita Ballet, Lustig Dance Theatre, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Gallim, JChen Project, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. He has danced in works choreographed by José Limón, David Parker & the Bang Group, Adam Hougland, Johannes Wieland, Ohad Naharin, Aszure Barton, Jerome Robbins, Larry Keigwin, Jiri Pikorny, Hernando Fernando Magedan, Spenser Theberge, Andrea Miller, Jeremy McQueen, Jessica Chen, Camille A. Browne, Dwight Rhoden, Desmond Richardson, Lightfoot & Leon, Crystal Pite, Alonzo King, Gregory Dawson and Jirí Kylián. He has created works for Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Hubbard Street 2, Joffrey Academy of Dance, James Sewell Ballet, Tulsa Ballet II, and Ballet X. He received the Jerome Robbins Foundation’s NEW Essential Works Grant (2012), commissioning his first large-scale ballet, “Square None” for ASFB. Norbert was a finalist of Hubbard Street’s National Choreographic Competition (2013), a Princess Grace Foundation-USA Award under the choreography fellowship (2012), Alvin Ailey New Directions Choreography Lab (2013), Asian Arts Alliance’s 2014 honorable mention Jadin Wong Award, and finalist for the Joffrey Academy of Dance's 2014 Choreographer of Color Award.
Jimmy OrranteJimmy Orrante is a recipient of the 2005 inaugural Princess Grace Choreographic Fellowship. He began his dance training at LACHSA under Don Hewitt and later at North Carolina School of the Arts. After 22 years as a professional dancer, the Los Angeles native ultimately retired from BalletMet where during his tenure he choreographed over 15 premieres for the company, including his highly successful full-length ballet, “The Great Gatsby”. It was recently reprised in BalletMet's 2014/15 season. In spring 2011 he was honored with the National Choreographic Recognition Award for Regional Dance America and was selected in the fall of that year as Choreographer In Residence for Denison University. He received the Special Project Grant from the Princess Grace Foundation and a grant from the NEA to collaborate with The Ohio State University's Advanced Center for Computer Art & Design (ACCAD) and multi media composer, Sean Beeson. The resulting “Illuminated Tapestry” premiered in April 2012 and involved motion capture technology using the XBOX Kinect. In March, 2014 Mr. Orrante created “Ya Me Fue” as one of three finalists in Ballet Austin's New American Talent Choreographic Competition and later created “Balanced” on Motion Dance Theatre in Asheville, NC. He was recently awarded his third grant from the Princess Grace Foundation, The Choreography Mentorship Co-commission (CMCC) Award, and choreographed “Threads of Color” as part of Ballet Austin’s 2015 Directors Choice program.

Sarah TallmanSarah Tallman was born and raised in the state of Colorado. Her early training afforded her the opportunity to study with Cheri Noble, Arthur Leeth, and Jeff Rockland. Sarah holds a BA in Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of Northern Colorado. She danced as a Principal Artist with Central City Opera, where she performed to critical acclaim in Danny Pelzig's Carmen. Currently in her eleventh season with Wonderbound she has danced numerous leading roles by award winning Artistic Director and Choreographer Garrett Ammon. Sarah has been featured in world premieres by Alex Ketley, Maurya Kerr, Amy Seiwert, Mark Godden, Ma Cong and Lauri Stallings. An accomplished choreographer, she has created several works for Wonderbound including See Yourself, In Between Seams, and Intimate Letters. She has collaborated with visual artists Laura Merage, and Virginia Folkestad, as well as the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, the Denver Confluence String Quartet, and the Colorado Symphony in a world premiere set to the music of Edvard Grieg's Holberg Suites. Her work, much like her performance, is influenced by the theatrical and is guided by the humility that often permeates the human spirit. She believes art and the stimulus of music and movement can awaken the senses in such a way that our reality can in fact be that of a dream.

Lighting Designer
Monique L'HeureuxMonique L’Heureux is an award winning lighting designer who has been working in the field of dance for over two decades. This year, she is celebrating her fourteenth collaboration with artistic director, Molly Lynch.  

Past designs include: Ma Cong’s French Twist for Smuin Ballet; Molly Lynch’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Anjani Ambegaokar’s Made in Mumbaii at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center;The Motion Picture and Television Fund event featuring Chita Rivera, Dick van Dyke, Shirley MacLaine, Hugh Jackman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jennifer Hudson, and others; Charles Moulton’s Ball Passing piece in Fall for Dance at the Orange County Performing Arts Center; Robert Sund’s Alice in Wonderland; the National and Pacific Festivals of Regional Dance America; the summer season at the Hollywood Bowl; and associate design work on the Universal Studios’ Magical Starlight Parade in Osaka, Japan.  

She attended Pepperdine University and received her MFA from the University of California, Irvine, after which she apprenticed at the Los Angeles Music Center’s Mark Taper Forum. She has taught for the dance departments at Loyola Marymount University and Moorpark College and the theatre department at El Camino College. She is the recipient of four Lester Horton Dance Awards.  

She is an accomplished artist and photographer whose work has been shown in galleries including the Long Beach Public Library’s Art on Display, the Carl Broderick Gallery, VIVA Gallery, Long Beach Arts Center, City of Brea Gallery, and The Stage Gallery, as well as a permanent installation in the Glendale Adventist Medical Center. She is a member of United Scenic Artists.

2015 Dancers
Edilsa Armendariz – Bay Pointe Ballet
Julia Feldman – Sacramento Ballet
Erica Felsch – Smuin Ballet
Keenan McLaren – Nashville Ballet
Allynne Noelle – Los Angeles Ballet
Lauren Pschirrer – Ballet Memphis
Ashley Lynn Sherman – Ballet Austin
Molly Wagner – Kansas City Ballet

Brandon Alexander - Teater Vanemuine Ballet
Allen AJ Abrams – freelance
Thomas Baker – Oregon Ballet Theatre
Jake Casey – Cincinnati Ballet
Zachary Guthier – Los Angeles Ballet
Evan Swenson – freelance
Dustin True – Los Angeles Ballet
Rex Wheeler – Sacramento Ballet

2014 Dancers
 2014 NCI dancers

All photos by Robert Salas and David Friedman

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