The School of American Ballet marked its annual Winter Ball on Monday night.
The fund-raising event also serves as a showcase for students aged 14 to 16. Nearly 30 students danced in a piece choreographed by SAB alum and New York City Ballet corps de ballet member Alec Knight before an audience that included Indre Rockefeller, Paul Arnhold and Jill Kargman.
“I love the school. I was a full scholarship kid, so I owe a lot to SAB. Events like this help pay for those scholarships, so if I’m in town for Winter Ball, I’m here,” NYCB principal dancer Lauren Lovette said of the event.
The school is New York City Ballet’s training institution, having prepped the majority of the company’s dancers in Balanchine technique. Students join the school in their teen years and remain working alongside their classmates for the remainder of their careers.
“I have worked with most of these people since I was 14,” Lovette said. “Yes, you have falling outs with people, but ultimately you know they are going to be there and you work it out. It does create chemistry on stage, too, it’s like dancing with family — there is a camaraderie.”
“I think [Knight] is one of the biggest up-and-coming choreographers we have right now. It’s not easy what he’s done — it’s arranging like 26 kids,” said Lovette, whose second choreographic piece for the company, “Not Our Fate,” will return to the stage for City Ballet’s spring season.
Knight, a native Australian, said of his experience while attending the school: “You know, imagine having to know what you are going to do for the rest of your life at 13 years old. You’re 10,000 miles away from your family, and imagine that in New York — sensory overload everyday and trying to find yourself find your talent. It’s probably the most mentally and physically exhausting process.”
Of the evening’s choreography, Knight said: “I remember what I went through at 15 and I just wanted to be a 15-year-old teenager. I wanted to encourage them to use each other for support and do things that feels good.”