Lauren Lovette personifies the intertwining of dance and choreography, moving seamlessly from one to the other. Her work has been commissioned and performed by leading dance companies and festivals, including the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the Vail International Dance Festival, American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Nevada Ballet Theatre, as well as a self-produced evening entirely of her own work in which she also danced, Why It Matters.
She began creating dance as a ballet student, for a 2007 choreographic workshop showing at the School of American Ballet (SAB). Another ballet, for the 2008 workshop, was soon followed by her being selected to create a work for the 2009 New York Choreographic Institute.
In 2016, Lovette, then a relatively new principal dancer, was asked to choreograph her first piece, that then premiered at the New York City Ballet Fall Fashion Gala. In 2017, she choreographed for the Vail International Dance Festival, the NYCB Fall Season Gala, and the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company. She was awarded the Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University in fall of 2018, and a year later created a work for the 2019 Fall Fashion Gala at NYCB. Her work at NYCB is noteworthy, forging a path for other female choreographers in an area of dance that has notably been predominantly male.
Born in Thousand Oaks, CA, Lovette began studying ballet at the age of 11 at the Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, NC. She enrolled at SAB as a full-time student in 2006. In October 2009, Ms. Lovette became an apprentice with NYCB and joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in September 2010. Promoted to soloist in February 2013 and to principal dancer in June 2015, she stepped down from her position at the company in 2021 to embark on a career devoted to dance and choreography in more equal measure. Ms. Lovette received the Clive Barnes Award for dance in December 2012 and was the 2012-2013 recipient of the Janice Levin Award.
John Harnage in Lauren Lovette’s Solitare, photo by Whitney Browne
Lee Duveneck in Lauren Lovette’s Pentimento, photo by Ron Thiele
Portrait of Lauren Lovette by Ruven Afanador
Amy Hall Garner is a native of Huntsville, Alabama, and a graduate of The Juilliard School. Her work has been praised internationally and commissioned by Ailey II, ABT Studio Company, Collage Dance Collective, The Juilliard School, The Ailey School, Barnard College, The University of the Arts, Columbia Ballet Collaborative, Point Park University, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Recently, she has received virtual commissions from BalletX, Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Process Digital Series, ABT Studio Company, Boulder Ballet and a virtual collaboration between Miami City Ballet and Paul Taylor American Modern Dance. She personally coached Grammy Award winner Beyoncé, providing additional choreography for The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour. Theatrical choreography credits include: The Color Purple (Milwaukee Repertory Theater) and Invisible Thread, associate choreographer (Second Stage Theater, NYC). In 2018, she was selected to participate in Alvin Ailey’s New Directions Choreography Lab supported by the Ford Foundation. Garner was one of the first recipients of the Joffrey Ballet’s Choreography of Color Award (now titled Winning Works). She is an adjunct professor at New York University’s New Studio on Broadway at Tisch School of the Arts. Currently, Ms. Garner is a Virginia B. Toulmin Fellow at The Center for Ballet and the Arts.
Lisa Borres and Austin Kelly in Amy Hall Gardner’s Somewhere in the Middle, photo by Whitney Browne.
Omar Román De Jesús (Bayamón, Puerto Rico) is a recipient of the 2020 Jacob’s Pillow: The Ann & Weston Hicks Choreography Fellowship. He has been commissioned twice by Instituto de Cultura de Puerto Rico to create work for the International Dance Festival of Puerto Rico, where he was awarded the Ambassador of Dance medal. Omar has won choreographic competitions including the Joffrey Academy of Dance’s Winning Works Choreographic Competition and the Whim W’Him’s Choreographic Shindig. He has received awards including the Audience Award at The Dance Gallery Festival, 1st place prize at the Reverb Dance Festival and the Parsons Dance GenerationNOW Commission for their 2017 Joyce Season. He has also created work for Bruce Wood Dance, Jacob Jonas The Company, and educational institutions like The Ailey School, Kennesaw State University, James Madison University and Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. His work was recently presented at Chop Shop: Bodies of Work Contemporary Dance Festival and will be presented at the upcoming: PRISMA International Dance Festival in Panama, the Jerusalem International Choreographic Competition, the Palm Desert Choreography Festival and ENDANZANTE in Medellín, Colombia.
Austin Kelly, Shawn Lesniak and Company in Omar Román De Jesús’ If You Could Swallow the Sun, photo by Ron Thiele
Originally from Houston TX, Michelle Manzanales is a choreographer, dedicated dance educator of 30 years, and co-founder of the Latinx Dance Educators Alliance. The Director of Ballet Hispánico’s School of Dance since December of 2016, Michelle previously led the organization’s professional company as Rehearsal Director & Artistic Associate for seven seasons.
Her choreography “…isn’t just about one girl’s experience; it applies to everyone, of any gender, and of any culture,” said CriticalDance. Manzanales’ current commissions include new works that will premiere in the Spring of 2022 for the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Oregon Ballet Theater, and Montclair State University.
Michelle’s work for Ballet Hispánico, Con Brazos Abiertos, described as a “savvy but deeply sincere meditation on her Mexican American background” (-Marina Harss, New York Times), premiered in 2017 and has since toured worldwide to critical acclaim including its feature at New York City Center’s 2018 Fall for Dance Festival.
Other acclaimed works by Manzanales include If by Chance… which “unspooled dreamily atop and between the tables” of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (-Courtney Escoyne, Dance Magazine), was created and performed for the Jerome Robbins Dance Division 75th anniversary Gala in December 2019. Her homage to Frida Kahlo, Paloma Querida, was hailed a “visual masterpiece” by Lucia Mauro of the Chicago Tribune and was described by the Chicago Sun-Times as a “gorgeously designed, richly hallucinatory, multi-faceted vision of the artist.” Sugar in the Raw (Azucar Cruda), was also applauded by the Chicago Sun-Times as “a staggering, beautiful, accomplished new work.”
Shawn Lesniak and Company in Michelle Manzanales’s Hope is the Thing with Feathers, photo by Ron Thiele
Peter Chu was born in the Bronx, NY, and raised in Cocoa Beach, FL, where he began training as a competitive gymnast and later furthered his artistry at Dussich Dance Studio. After graduating from The Juilliard School, he performed with BJM Danse, EZdanza, Aszure Barton & Artists, Kidd Pivot, and in Céline Dion’s Las Vegas spectacular, A New Day. In 2008, he formed a Las Vegas project based dance company, chuthis., which showcases his work and that of his collaborators. Mr. Chu has created works for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Staatstheater Augsburg, Charlotte Ballet II, Orlando Ballet Theatre, Hubbard Street 2, Giordano Dance Chicago, SYTYCD, Naomi Stikeman’s Çaturn, Houston MET Dance, New Dialect, SALT Contemporary Dance, HSPro, and The Juilliard School, among others. This year, Mr. Chu will be premiering new works for Giordano Dance Chicago, Gibney Dance Company, and a creation for his own company, chuthis.