Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet to Feature Live Performance by Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (GTCYS)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., December 24, 2003—The Metropolitan Ballet Project is pleased to announce a unique collaboration of professional and young Twin Cities dancers and musicians in a production of Romeo & Juliet. The staged ballet will be presented on Valentine’s Day, Saturday, February 14, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. at The O’Shaughnessy Auditorium in St. Paul, Minn.

The Metropolitan Ballet Project’s objective is to provide a unique and highly creative opportunity for both professional and aspiring dancers and musicians to participate in the production of a classical ballet. “We want to celebrate the diversity that unites theater, music and dance, while creating a rich experience for youth in the Twin Cities community,” said Erik Sanborn Johnson, founder of the Metropolitan Ballet Project. “One of the most exciting aspects of this project is the presentation of dance set to live music, an element that is most often missing from dance performance”

The Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (GTCYS) will perform Sergei Prokofiev’s score under the direction of GTCYS’ Artistic Director, Dr. Jean Montès. Established in 1972, GTCYS is one of the nation's largest youth orchestra organizations with six academic year and three summer orchestras serving over 600 young musicians through the 12th grade.

Some of the Twin Cities’ most accomplished professional dance artists will perform the venerable and beloved work, with Minnesota Dance Theater’s Mifa Ko as Juliet and Abdo Sayegh as Romeo. In addition, several acclaimed guest artists will star in this production: Shen Pei (Artistic Director CAAM Chinese Dance Theater) as Juliet’s Nurse-Maid, Danny Buraczeski (Artistic Director/Founder of JAZZDANCE) as Lord Capulet, Judith Brin Ingber as Lady Capulet ("Voices of Shepard" and "Thirst"), Wendy Lehr (Jungle Theater / Guthrie) as Lady Montogue, Bob Davis (Guthrie) as Friar Lawrence, and Stephanie Karr-Smith as Lead Harlot;

These seasoned performers will share the stage with dancers from a variety of local professional companies and schools, including: Academy of Russian Ballet (Eden Prairie); Ballet Arts Minnesota (Minneapolis); Barbi Lee Dance Studio (Edina); Butterfield Gallery of Dance (Maple Grove); CAAM Chinese Dance Theater and School (St. Paul); Dance Works (Lakeville); Minnetonka Dance Theater and School; Minnesota Dance Theater and School (Minneapolis); Midwest Youth Dance Theater (Roseville); St. Paul City Ballet and the University of Minnesota Dance Program.

“The dancers and musicians in our community rank among the finest performing anywhere and this project brings their artistry to the community in a way that is both educational and exciting,” said Johnson.

Internationally acclaimed master choreographer Gregory Drotar will serve as Romeo & Juliet’s choreographer. Drotar has worked with the Royal Swedish Ballet, several American regional companies, and is the recipient of the Dance Ambassador’s Award.

Romeo & Juliet tickets may be purchased through Ticketmaster and The O’Shaughnessy Auditorium Box Office. Tickets are $12 for children, $17 for students and seniors, and $22 for adults. Groups and Minnesota Public Radio members may receive a $3 discount.

The production of Romeo & Juliet is made possible by funding from Marshall Field's and Target, and through generous donations of time and talent from the Twin Cities community.

About Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies

Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies was established to provide an exemplary orchestral experience for young musicians. GTCYS is the nation's largest youth orchestra organization with eight orchestras serving over 600 young musicians through the 12th grade. GTCYS is at the forefront of the local arts community with a busy concert schedule that includes fall, winter and spring concerts for all of its orchestras. GTCYS is led by Artistic Director Dr. Jean Montés.

About the Twin Cities Metropolitan Ballet Project

The Twin Cities Metropolitan Ballet Project was formed in spring 2003 to showcase the most gifted dancers from the Twin Cities area ballet studios in partnership with the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies. The Metropolitan Ballet Project provides a strong educational platform for aspiring artists, enabling them to participate in an artistic cooperative that uniquely fuses the talents of amateurs and professionals.

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