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Students Are at the Heart of Choreographer Jenna Lavin’s Inspiration


Students Are at the Heart of Choreographer Jenna Lavin’s Inspiration

May 17, 2017

This spring Jenna Lavin has choreographed two new ballets designed to display Ballet Academy East students’ musical and artistic aplomb at their annual Spring Performance.

Gossec’s Gavotte is a neo-classical ballet with music composed by François-Joseph Gossec. TO BE CONTINUED…, with music by composer Henry Purcell, embraces the endless circle of inspiration Lavin receives from her students.

Lavin was a professional dancer for 18 years, dancing for the Atlanta Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and more. Since joining the faculty at BAE in 2003, she has choreographed 22 ballets for the Pre-Professional Division.

As a former principal dancer, dance teacher, and mother of three young boys, Lavin brings an encouraging perspective to her students.

“Parenting, combined with my history as a dancer, makes me fully aware of the tough road that lays ahead for students who have chosen ballet as their profession. I have so much respect for their ability to manage school, ballet classes and ballet rehearsals. It's an enormous sacrifice for students.  But I know – having gone through this myself – it’s worth every moment spent in the studio reaching for that dream,” says Lavin.

It’s clear that students are at the heart of her choreographic endeavors.

“I feel like every ballet I choreograph for BAE students is exciting for both the kids and me,” shares Lavin who carefully selects her music to make sure the younger students do not get frustrated by a score that is too complicated.

Lavin’s father was a cellist for the New York Philharmonic for four decades. She credits growing up surrounded by music for helping her navigate her way into the world of choreography. “At the front of my process, right when I start thinking about a new ballet, I always ask myself, ‘How can I make the kids look their absolute best and still challenge them technically and artistically?’ In the end, the ballet must feel like it belongs to the student dancers, not me. I've already had my time up on that great stage... It's their moment now,” exclaims Lavin.

In Gossec’s Gavotte, it’s all about the dancers. This short ballet without scenery or sets is choreographed purely to showcase the 9 to 12-year old students’ (including 7 boys!) technical skills and artistic ability.

Lavin can hardly contain her excitement for her other ballet, TO BE CONTINUED…  Her inspiration for this ballet was, again, her students. “I wanted to say thank you to my older students who will perform in this ballet. Many are moving on to a next phase of their lives next year and they have been such a joy to work with, I wanted to give them a gift,” explains Lavin.

TO BE CONTINUED… is her gift to these students who have touched so many lives at BAE and left their mark on the heart of the school. “It’s a cycle of hard work, joy and love as older students move on and younger ones advance. I adore that it’s a never-ending circle and this ballet reflects that continual source of inspiration,” concludes Lavin.

Lavin has demonstrated an unmistakable commitment to cultivating young dancers throughout her career beginning in Chicago when she was 17.  Don’t miss her latest works and chance to experience her students’ talents firsthand.