posted April 27, 2009

Visiting Ballet Masters to Lead Hope May Term

Hope College dance students will benefit from a unique opportunity as four legendary dance professionals visit campus and team up to teach the college's Ballet Studies May Term next month.

Over the three weeks the course will be taught by Trinette Singleton, Jeffrey Graham Hughes, Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner, all described as outstanding masters by the department's chairperson, Linda Graham, who coordinated the opportunity

"For this May Term we are thrilled to be able to bring an intensive opportunity for serious students to study with several outstanding masters of the art of ballet," said Linda Graham, professor of dance and chairperson of the department at Hope. "This would not be possible if we did not have dance students capable of, and interested in, gaining from such an experience, plus the facilities, staff support and fiscal support of the Dorothy Wiley DeLong Endowment."

Graham's connections to the dancers made the unique experience possible. She attended the National Academy of the Arts with Gardner and later danced with McKerrow. Singleton is familiar with Graham's choreography so she agreed to work with Hope College students for a week, and Hughes is a former colleague of Singleton and also agreed to come.

Graham noted that the class "continues our mission of offering opportunities for the student to develop artistically, intellectually, physically and spiritually through the art of dance."

Trinette Singleton began her professional career with New York's Joffrey Ballet in 1965.  She has toured throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe, performing in ballets by notable choreographers such as Robert Joffrey, Gerald Arpino, George Balanchine, John Cranko, Angus DeMille, Kurt Jooss and Antony Tudor.  She was thrust into national prominence in 1967, appearing in the multi-media ballet, "Astarte," created for her by Joffrey.  She was the first dancer to ever appear on the cover of a national news magazine when she was on "Time Magazine" in 1967.  Her later covers included "Life," "Saturday Review," and "Dance Magazine." Following her performing years, Singleton became ballet mistress/teacher for the Joffrey Ballet, as well as administrative assistant to Joffrey.  She later joined the faculty and Advisory Board of the Joffrey Ballet School, where she still teaches.  She currently serves as adjunct faculty for DeSales University; as part of the commencement ceremonies in 2008, Singleton was awarded an honorary degree in fine arts from DeSales, in honor of her many contributions to dance.

Jeffrey Graham Hughes has danced principal and soloist roles with the Joffrey Ballet, London Festival Ballet (English National Ballet), Oakland, Sacramento Ballets, Cleveland / San Jose Ballet, and Atlanta Ballet. Hughes danced in Russia with The Joffrey Ballet in 1974 and in China with London Festival Ballet in 1979. As artistic director for the Ohio Ballet and the Hong Kong Ballet, he has had his works seen throughout the world. He has also served as guest faculty and ballet master for numerous organizations, and executive director for Ballet Tucson since 2006.

Amanda McKerrow was the first American to receive a gold medal at the International Ballet competition in Moscow in 1981. Since then she has been a recipient of numerous other awards, including the Princess Grace Foundation Dance Fellowship. McKerrow joined American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in 1982, became soloist in 1983 and a principal in 1987. She has received acclaim for her many leading classical roles, and in works by George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Sir Frederick Ashton, Jerome Robbins and Jiri Killian, and created roles in ballets by choreographers such as Twyla Tharp, Agnes DeMille and Mark Morris. In 2000 she began working for the Antony Tudor Trust with her husband, John Gardner. Upon retirement from ABT in 2005 she has devoted her time to teaching and coaching ballet.

John Gardner, who is a graduate of the National Academy of Arts in Champaign, Ill., joined ABT's second company in 1977 and the main company in 1978, and was promoted to soloist in 1984. His diverse repertoire included many soloist and principal roles in works by choreographers such as Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins, Agnes deMille and George Balanchine. In 1981 he joined Mikhail Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Project, working with Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, Lar Lubovitch and Martha Graham. He returned to ABT in 1995, and began working for the Antony Tudor Trust with his wife Amanda, in 2000. During the course of his career, Gardner has achieved a reputation as a master teacher and coach for ballet on both the professional and student levels, and has staged numerous ballets for professional companies and schools across the United States.