A Midsummer Night's Dream | Grand Rapids Ballet

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James Sofranko, Artistic Director

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Yuka Oba-Muschiana and Josué Justiz, photo by Damion Van Slyke





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ARTISTIC DIRECTOR MESSAGE Dear Friends, Thank you for joining us for the final program of our 2122 season, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Serenade. It has been an eventful season, which happily saw our return to live performances in the fall, a successful run of The Nutcracker in December, a kickoff to our 50th Anniversary with Cinderella at DeVos Performance Hall in February, and a community collaborative Jumpstart in March. I am pleased that we have been able to do so much, even on the heels of the pandemic that upended our operations, and we have you, our audiences, to thank for that success! Christopher Stowell’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream offers a fresh new take on the classic Shakespeare tale, and I am so excited for Grand Rapids Ballet to be the first company outside of Oregon Ballet Theater (where it was created) to perform it. Not only does Stowell incorporate bravura technical dancing and lush pas de deuxs into this production, but he also tells the story with clarity, blending theatricality and humor with his musically sensitive choreography. The professional company members are joined on stage with students of the Grand Rapids Ballet School, so this production is a treat for the whole organization! Opening the program is Serenade, a plotless ballet created in 1934 by George Balanchine, widely considered the father of American ballet. Serenade is a gift to all dancers and dance lovers, and it is a masterpiece of movement blended perfectly with Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. I have seen Serenade hundreds of times, interpreted by dozens of companies and hundreds of dancers, and I don’t think I will ever tire of it. I am so glad to be presenting it now, as a part of our 50th Anniversary, as a sign of our commitment to present the best of classical ballet from the past, as well as looking forward into the future. As Michigan’s only professional ballet company we have a responsibility to keep the art form alive and well, and to continually introduce new generations of dancers and audiences to the joy of ballet. This summer, while the dancers are on break, our staff will be hard at work preparing for our recently announced 22-23 season, which is full of world premieres and favorites. The season includes a new full-length Romeo and Juliet, choreographed by myself, that will premiere in February 2023 at DeVos Performance Hall with the Grand Rapids Symphony. If you are already a subscriber, thank you, and if not, please consider supporting us with a subscription that guarantees you seats at every program and provides the best discounts and exclusive subscriber-only events. I wish you all a wonderful summer, and I look forward to seeing you again next fall at Grand Rapids Ballet! Sincerely, James Sofranko, Artistic Director



A Midsummer Night’s Dream Oregon Ballet Theatre World Premiere October 13, 2007 Keller Auditorium, Portland, Oregon

Grand Rapids Ballet Premiere April 22, 2022 Peter Martin Wege Theatre

Choreographer Christopher Stowell

Scenery and Costumes Sandra Woodall Scenery and costumes courtesy Oregon Ballet Theater

Music By Felix Mendelssohn

Lighting Design Michael Mazzola, recreated by Matthew Taylor

Music Arranged By Niel DePonte

Staged By Anne Mueller and Steven Houser


Christopher Stowell, Associate Artistic Director at The National Ballet of Canada, is the son of Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, and was born in New York City and received his training at Pacific Northwest Ballet School and the School of American Ballet. In 1985, he joined San Francisco Ballet where he danced for 16 years, appearing in theatres throughout the world including the Paris Opéra Ballet, New York’s Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre. As a Principal Dancer, Mr. Stowell performed leading roles in the full-length classics Romeo and Juliet, The Sleeping Beauty, La Fille mal Gardee and Othello, and had roles created for him by Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson, as well as contemporary choreographers including Mark Morris, William Forsythe and James Kudelka. An established interpreter of the George Balanchine repertoire, Mr. Stowell appeared in almost every Balanchine ballet performed by San Francisco Ballet. In 2003, Mr. Stowell was named the Artistic Director of Oregon Ballet Theatre (OBT), a position he held until 2012. During his tenure Mr. Stowell made significant additions to OBT’s repertoire, bringing to Portland works from some of the world’s most celebrated choreographers, including Fredrick Ashton, George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, William Forsythe, Paul Taylor, Helgi Tomasson, James Kudelka, Christopher Wheeldon and Lar Lubovitch. Mr. Stowell has taught and coached in San Francisco, New York, Japan, China and across Europe. He has created works for San Francisco Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Diablo Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet as well as the New York City Ballet Choreographic Institute. He has also staged the works of George Balanchine, Mark Morris and Christopher Wheeldon. In addition to serving as Ballet Master and Assistant to the Artistic Director at San Francisco Ballet for the 2014/15 season, he recently worked in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Beijing and Copenhagen, and created his first work for Los Angeles Ballet and his first film for the San Francisco Dance Film Festival. In 2017, Mr. Stowell joined The National Ballet of Canada as Associate Artistic Director. In this role, he oversees the Artistic staff, teaches, coaches and stages works for the company and works closely with Karen Kain in realizing her vision for the National Ballet. Mr. Stowell is a member of the creative team for Ms. Kain’s new production of Swan Lake which will premiere in June 2020. 5



Choreographer George Balanchine | © The George Balanchine Trust Music Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Serenade in C for string orchestra, Op. 48, 1880) Staged By Rebecca Metzger Costume Design Karinska Ballet Master Dawnell Dryja Costumes Constructed By Ronald Altman and Brennan Smith Lighting Matthew Taylor This performance of Serenade, a Balanchine® Ballet, is presented with The George Balanchine Trust and has been produced in accordance with the Balanchine® Style and Balanchine® Technique. World Premiere: June 10, 1934, School of American Ballet (White Plains, New York) March 1, 1935, American Ballet (New York, New York) BALANCHINE is a Trademark of The George Balanchine Trust


Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, George Balanchine (1904-1983) is regarded as the foremost contemporary choreographer in the world of ballet. He came to the United States in late 1933, and the School of American Ballet was founded in 1934. In 1948, New York City Ballet was born and Balanchine served as its ballet master and principal choreographer until his death in 1983. A major artistic figure of the twentieth century, Balanchine revolutionized the look of classical ballet. Taking classicism as his base, he heightened, quickened, expanded, streamlined, and even inverted the fundamentals of the 400-year-old language of academic dance. This had an inestimable influence on the growth of dance in America. Although at first his style seemed particularly suited to the energy and speed of American dancers, especially those he trained, his ballets are now performed by all the major classical ballet companies throughout the world.


Balanchine’s more than 400 dance works include Serenade (1934), Concerto Barocco (1941), Symphony in C (1947), Orpheus (1948), The Nutcracker (1954), Agon (1957), Symphony in Three Movements (1972), Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1972), Vienna Waltzes (1977), Ballo della Regina (1978), and Mozartiana (1981). He also choreographed for films, operas, revues, and musicals.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM Christopher Stowell’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream Synopsis A GARDEN PARTY Hippolyta and Theseus host a lavish celebration of their marriage. Entering the garden from the wedding tent, the guests decide to entertain each other with a play where they might learn of love in all its variety. Props in hand, they slip into a land that lies between reality and fantasy. IN A MAGICAL WOOD THE PLAY BEGINS The ancient forest glimmers with woodland creatures–fairies, too, but mortal eyes can’t see them. A band of zany performers comes and goes; Oberon, the King of the Fairies, quarrels with Titania, his Queen, over possession of a Changling Boy; and toy mortal couples dash through the woods-Hermia and Lysander, exuberantly in love; and Helena, pursuing Demetrius who yearns only for Hermia. The mischievous Puck and his Peaseblossom tease the actors lightheartedly. DEEPER IN THE GOSSAMER WOOD

BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON Oberon and Titania reconcile with newfound understanding, reaching a deeper ideal of love and restoring harmony to the world.

Approximate performance length is two hours, including a 20-minute intermission.


Yuka Oba-Muschiana and Josué Justiz, photo by Damion Van Slyke

While the mortal couples carry on their quest for love, Oberon and Titania continue their quarrel. King Oberon commands that Puck marshal Cupid’s magic to aid Helena’s plight and to trick Titania into falling in love with a donkey. But Puck’s efforts misfire and chaos ensue. Sensing that such discord is upsetting the balance of the world, Oberon orders Puck and Cupid to set things right.



Isaac Aoki

James Cunningham

Ednis Gomez

Yuko Horisawa

Steven Houser

Josué Justiz

Zach Manske

Sarah Marley

Alexandra Meister-Upleger

Yuka Oba-Muschiana

Nigel Tau

Julia Turner

Madison Massara

Branden Reiners


Matthew Wenckowski

Nathan Young

Emily Reed

Adriana Wagenveld


Haley Baker

Talia Lebowitz

Ingrid Lewis

Claudia Rhett

Spencer Waldeck

Learn more about Grand Rapids Ballet’s dancers at grballet.com/dancers. Dancer headshots by Isaac Aoki and Jessica Meldrum.


Katie Aaberg

Mackenzie Davis

Todd Lani

Sofia Striegl

Fiona Dorr

Avery Held




Yuka Oba-Muschiana and Josué Justiz, photo by Damion Van Slyke.


Yuka Oba-Muschiana, photo by Ray Nard Imagemaker.





Grand Rapids Ballet is dedicated to expanding the experience of world-class dance and artistic excellence. Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Committee, comprised of board members, staff, and dancers, is committed to examining our efforts, seeking out all voices in our community, and creating actions to be a more inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible cultural organization.

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT As a first important step in our ongoing mission for social justice, Grand Rapids Ballet would like to recognize the People of the Three Fires, the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potowatomi peoples on whose land we are gathered. The Three Fires People are indigenous to this land which means that this is their ancestral territory. The Grand Rapids Ballet is built on native land. As such, we are guests on their land, and one way to practice Right Relations is to develop genuine ways to acknowledge the histories and traditions of the people who originated here first, who are still here, and who tend to the land always. As we take this step, we understand that there are many more ahead as we continuously advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community.


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2022-2023 SEASON SUBSCRIPTIONS A Midsummer Night’s Dream features Shakespeare’s comedic tale of whimsy and love choreographed by Christopher Stowell with music by Felix Mendelssohn. The performance also includes George Balanchine’s classic ballet Serenade, with music by Tchaikovsky.

Sarah Marley, photo by Ray Nard Imagemaker


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Grand Rapids Ballet Company dancers in Serenade Choreography by George Balanchine 17 © The George Balanchine Trust



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GRAND RAPIDS BALLET STAFF COMPANY Artistic Director James Sofranko Executive Director Glenn Del Vecchio Marketing Director Jessica Meldrum M.S. Development Director Julie Lesniak Production Stage Manager Megan Marie Thompson Costume Shop Manager Ronald Altman Costume Shop Assistant Nancy Greiner Company/Facilities Manager John Ferraro Artistic Coordinator/Ballet Master Dawnell Dryja Black Asst. Ballet Master Steven Houser Trainee Program Teacher Cynthia Sofranko Guest Services Manager Errol Shewman Box Office Manager Melissa Anderson Box Office Associate Marie Braun Social Media Coordinator Katie Aaberg Pianists Ryan Blok, Justin Gray, Margi Peterson

Cunningham, Steven Houser, Jillian Gasper, Nicholas Gray, Katherine Koning, Sarah Marley, Kate Matlack, Yuka Oba-Muschiana, Taryn Ortega-Furgeson, Nigel Tau, Jessica Winter-Troutwine Pianists Ryan Blok, Idalmira Lopez, Mark Moran Receptionists Mary-Ann Carpenter, Audrey Walker, Arianna Wisniewski PRODUCTION CREW Production Carpenter Andrew Steers Production Electrician Matt Taylor Asst. Production Electrician Glenn Gould Production Properties Ben Knudstrup Projectionist Marc Savage Assistant Stage Manager Maragaret Peterson

SCHOOL Director & Junior Company Artistic Director Attila Mosolygo Curriculum Coordinator Mindy Mosolygo Administrator SarahJean Bos Faculty Melanie Anderson Brossiet, James

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2007 | Meijer-Royce Center for Dance

2000 | GRB Finds Permanent Home

1991-92 Season | Professional Dancers Contracted

1987 | Charthel Arthur Artistic Director

1983 | Summerfest Program Expanded

1973 | Operational & Executive Management Established

1972 | Nonprofit Corporation Formed

2000-2010 | Artistic Director Gordon Peirce Schmidt & Associate Artistic Director Laura Berman

1997 | 25th Anniversary Silver Season

1988 | Grand Rapids Ballet School Formed

1987 | “Civic” Removed From Title

1987 | Cinderella at Civic Theatre

1973 | GRB Moves Locations

1972 | Established partnership with Grand Rapids Public Schools

1960s | The Spirit of Ballet is Born


2022 | 50th Golden Anniversary

2020-Present | COVID-19 Pandemic

2018-Present | James Sofranko Artistic Director

2016-Present | Penny Saunders Resident Choreographer

2012 | Present-Day Junior Company Established

2010-17 | Patricia Barker Artistic Director

2009-10 | Adaptive Dance Program Established

2021 | Named Creative Business of the Year

June 2019 | Record-Breaking Festival Performance

2017-Present | School Continues to Grow

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2012 | Attila Mosolygo Junior Company Artistic Director

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First row: Luke Skrycki, Emily McCarty, Ella Fix, Elise Peters, Elle Boehringer, Vivian Mosolygo, Violette Cooper, Samantha Storms, Minka Dunahee, Elliot Schulz, Second row: Caleb Oldenberg, Gwen Sumners, Allison Skwarek, Fiona Overdevest, Emma Christy, Grace DeJonge, Morgan Snider, Ellery Dahl, Lyric McPhee, Christopher Karhunen, Third row: Edwin Klein, Madelyn Bird, Adelina Berzins, Grace Heins, A’Marri CannonMelton, Clare Nicklow, Gabrielle Shook, Hannah Jo Ten Elshof, Isabel Case, Fourth row: Bre’asia Rosado, Mia Storteboom, Maya Olthouse, Elin Escobar Forsberg, Micah Jones, Nina Richardson, Serafina Wagenveld, Fifth row: Alexandra Hodge, Anna Sumners, Alyssa Pitsch, Liam Dunahee, Olivia Borgula, Violet Ottenwess, Hailee Jarchow, Not pictured: Evangeline Czurak, Reese Graalman, Lucia Jacques, Zooey Kraemer, Phoebe Oldenberg, Aleksandra Theule, Mariana Topie, Eliana Tucker.

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Attila Mosolygo, Director

SUMMER 2022 INTENSIVES GRBS students, photo: Jessica Meldrum



GRAND RAPIDS BALLET SCHOOL BOASTS BENEFITS OF ITS MOVING WITH PARKINSON’S PROGRAM DURING PARKINSON’S AWARENESS MONTH In recognition of Parkinson’s Awareness month taking place throughout the month of April, Grand Rapids Ballet School (GRBS), the educational branch of Grand Rapids Ballet, is slated to host a special Moving with Parkinson’s event on Tuesday, April 26 at 11 a.m. Moving with Parkinson’s is a dance therapy class for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) geared towards mobility that was created in the 2009-10 season when the organization established its Adaptive Dance Program, which boasts the therapeutic power of dance. GRBS offers both a Moving with Parkinson’s class and Explorer Dance, a beginner-level ballet class that emphasizes balance, coordination, and creative expression for children with disabilities. Through a passion for helping people to enhance their everyday life experiences, Attila Mosolygo, the Grand Rapids Ballet School Director, has continued growing the program over the past decade. After receiving extensive training through the Mark Morris Dance Group’s Dance for PD Program, Mosolygo brought the curriculum back to Grand Rapids to share this powerful learning opportunity with individuals in the West Michigan community. “Moving with Parkinson’s is immensely beneficial to the community; it’s something that needs to be out there,” said Mosolygo. “Our program offers a creative outlet. What we do in our classes is to try to change the dancers’ perceptions of what movement is and the intention behind the movement. By changing the intention behind the movement, their movement changes.” The Moving with Parkinson’s program is based on the idea that people with PD can benefit from the insight, technique, and methods used by dancers to guide their bodies and minds. The weekly classes strive to increase coordination, balance, flexibility, and strength through music and movement. Making Moving with Parkinson’s even more impactful, through an ongoing partnership with the Parkinson’s Association of West Michigan, GRBS is able to offer these weekly classes free of charge throughout the year at the Meijer-Royce Center for Dance in downtown Grand Rapids as well as satellite classes at Evergreen Commons in Holland. “There’s something about music and movement that changes their perspective,” said Mosolygo. He explained that he often uses visualization to help guide his classes. “Visualize a tree moving and bending,” he described. He then asks the participants to create that movement with their bodies. “Having everyone tap into their creative side makes this class as beneficial as it is.” Among the many physical benefits of participation in Moving with Parkinson’s, the dancers often also find solace in the comradery built during the classes. It offers people a chance to connect with others who are going through a shared experience. “The idea of isolation and dealing with Parkinson’s is eased a bit because you’re not doing it alone,” explained Mosolygo. “Our class creates a social element and it becomes a support group to keep each other motivated.” One current student, Sharon Schuster-Craig, shared “The Moving with Parkinson’s class helps me walk with a more even gait; improves my balance; strengthens cognitive skills and provides a muchneeded social outlet.” Another student, Mary Brubaken, who has been taking the class for eight years says it’s one of the most positive activities she has participated in. “It lets me slow down, forget the challenges I face each day, and enjoy being mindful of that moment,” she reflected. “Attila is a wonderful teacher and the piano music adds to the joy of being part of something freeing. It is a special part of my week.” To cap Parkinson’s Awareness Month, GRBS is hosting a special event on Tuesday, April 26 at 11:30 a.m. to welcome current participants and those who are interested in joining the program. The event will include coffee and donuts and will lead into the weekly Moving with Parkinson’s class that starts at 11:45 a.m. Also happening on April 20, Mosolygo will lead a 15-minute demonstration at Evergreen Commons to share details about the program. Enrollment for Moving with Parkinson’s is available online with classes taking place every Tuesday morning in Grand Rapids and every Wednesday afternoon in Holland. The GR classes take place throughout the calendar year, while the Holland classes take a break over the summer. 36 By Marketing Director Jessica Meldrum M.S.


The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare Gloria by Brandon Jacob Jenkins The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Music & Lyrics by William Finn Book by Rachel Sheinkin The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde


Theatre at Grand Valley 2022/23 Season

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Jan. 2022)



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Babatunji Johnson – Alonzo King LINES Ballet


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