Press Releases

 FirstSteps, CPYB Student Choreographic Workshop
New initiative furthers educational enrichment through choreographic experience

Carlisle, Pa. (December 20, 2011)– The internationally recognized ballet school and performing company, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, is pleased to announce its newest choreographic initiative, FirstSteps, CPYB Student Choreographic Workshop.

FirstSteps further enriches the training of CPYB dancers beyond the traditional student/performer boundaries. The workshop takes place from January 12-20, culminating with public performances showcasing the choreographers' created works. Public performances are at 3 and 5 p.m. Saturday, January 21, at CPYB Warehouse Studios in Carlisle. Tickets are $5 and can be obtained by calling 717.245.1190.

CPYB Founding Artistic Director Marcia Dale Weary and Laszlo Berdo, FirstSteps Director, selected five choreographers from an impressive pool of proposals submitted by CPYB students. Proposals detailed musical selection, dancers needed for the work, and a description of the type of work.

“I want students to come into this workshop with a blank slate, to explore their creativity,” says Berdo, CPYB principal faculty and former Boston Ballet principal dancer. “Who knows what young talent will be recognized!”

During the nine-day workshop, students will develop an understanding of the choreographic creative process and will work with dancers in a leadership role. In addition, Pennsylvania Ballet and Carlisle Project founder Barbara Weisberger, a long-time advocate for young choreographers, will return to Carlisle to lend her insights and expertise during the program.

“Choreography is beyond technique and fine dancing,” states Ms. Weisberger. “It’s about how we use technique as a pathway to artistry and performance.”

CEO and Resident Choreographer Alan Hineline states, “Once you go to the other side and are in the front of the room, you start to recognize the infinite possibilities within dance. You begin to understand how artistic directors, teachers and choreographers see you and what the expectations are.”

The FirstSteps choreographers are:

  • Avalon Demetri, originally from Mendocino, Ca., has been training at CPYB for three years. She has danced in CPYB productions including George Balanchine’s Serenade, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, Melinda Howe's Rhythm, Richard Cook's Dance of the Hours, and Laszlo Berdo’s Swan Lake. In addition to ballet, Avalon enjoys reading and sewing.
  • Justine Essis Gildea has been studying at CPYB for eight years. Age 15, Justine is a sophomore at Cumberland Valley High School where she is an Honor Roll student and a member of the It Takes One (ITO) Club. Justine has danced roles in CPYB productions including George Balanchine’s Serenade, Raymonda Variations, and George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™; Rafael Grigorian's Violin Concerto #3 in G Major, Alan Hineline’s Hansel and Gretel and Roseland Pictures; and Laszlo Berdo’s Swan Lake and Carnival of the Animals. She enjoys art, traveling, psychology, cooking and participating in her church youth group. She also loves spending time with friends and family.
  • Alexander Manning has been training at CPYB for one year. Age 17, he is a senior at Carlisle High School. Alexander has danced in CPYB productions including George Balanchine’s Serenade and George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™;  Bettijane Sills' Le Voyage dans la Lune, Alan Hineline’s Roseland Pictures; Laszlo Berdo’s Swan Lake and Carnival of the Animals; and Sean Lavery’s Twinkliana. His interests outside of dance are going back to his home in State College, Pa., and traveling with his family.
  • John (“JQ”) Powers, originally from San Francisco, Ca., is in his second year at CPYB. Age 15, he is a sophomore at Stanford University Online High School. He has danced in CPYB productions including George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, Melinda Howe's Tourbillon Waltz, Alan Hineline’s Roseland Pictures, and Laszlo Berdo’s Swan Lake and Carnival of the Animals. In addition to dance, JQ’s interests include Russian, food, music, rock climbing and nature.
  • Nadezhda Vostrikov is returning to CPYB after dancing professionally for five years – two years at Boston Ballet and three years at Alberta Ballet. She was a CPYB student for three years prior to her return. Nadezhda has danced in CPYB productions including George Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15, Who Cares? and George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™; as well as Alan Hineline’s Hansel and Gretel and Coppélia. She has also danced in La Fille Mal Gardee, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Alice in Wonderland, Don Quixote, and The Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.


FirstSteps, CPYB Student Choreographic Workshop
CPYB Warehouse Studios, Carlisle
3 and 5 p.m. Saturday, January 21
Tickets: $5/person; call 717.245.1190



MEDIA OPPORTUNITY:The media is invited to attend upcoming rehearsals and speak with the performers, choreographers and artistic staff about the workshop and performances. For more information, please contact Bonnie Schulte at 717.245.1191 or Coverage opportunities of performances are also available. Contact Bonnie Schulte for arrangements and confirmation.


About Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet

Established in 1955 by Founding Artistic Director Marcia Dale Weary, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet is a nationally and internationally recognized school of classical ballet headquartered in Carlisle, Pa. CPYB’s mission is to inspire, educate and enrich the lives of the students and the region through training in and the performance of classical ballet.

About FirstSteps Director Laszlo Berdo

Berdo was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and began studying dance at the age of five. He intensified his studies at the National Academy of Arts in Champaign, Illinois. He danced for Ballet Austin, the Louisville Ballet under Alun Jones and Helen Starr, and Cincinnati Ballet under Ivan Nagy. Berdo joined the Boston Ballet in 1990 and became a principal dancer in 1995. As a principal, he danced numerous roles in ballets by Cranko, McMillan, Balanchine, Bournonville, Hynd and Stevenson. Berdo also excelled in contemporary works by Tharp, Taylor, Feld, Butler and York. He is honored to be the first to perform the lead role in Cranko’s Eugene Onegin in the United States.

Berdo began his choreography career in 1993. His works, which include the pas de deux Eternal Being, Four Hands, Below Down Under, Sanctuary, and Bass Elements, have been performed for the Boston Ballet, International Ballet competition in Jackson, Mississippi, summer festival in Biarritz, France, Norwegian National Ballet in Oslo, Finnish National Ballet in Helsinki, and Boston Conservatory. In 2001 he created Concertante for Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s (CPYB) ChoreoPlan. From 2000 to 2003 Berdo was a faculty member for the Boston Conservatory and Harvard University. He joined the full-time faculty of CPYB in 2003, for which he choreographed Snow White and premiered Peter Pan. He presented The Nutcracker for the Eglevsky Ballet, which premiered in December 2010; and staged Swan Lake for CPYB in 2010. Most recently Berdo choreographed Carnival of the Animals for the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet/Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra world premiere co-production. Berdo teaches in the United States and Europe for ballet companies, summer intensives and colleges.

About Barbara Weisberger

Barbara Weisberger, visionary leader, inspiring teacher and founding artistic director of the Pennsylvania Ballet from 1962-1982, has been in the vanguard of every important movement of contemporary American ballet. In 1984, she reached another high point in her distinguished career with the conception of the Carlisle Project, the distinctive, highly respected national program for the professional development of choreographers and dancers, which she led until the end of 1996 when the Project’s formal operations were suspended. Since spring 2001, she has been the Artistic Advisor of Peabody Dance, the dance program of Peabody Preparatory, an adjunct of the renowned Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Md.

Born in Brooklyn, Ny., Ms. Weisberger began her ballet training at the age of five and became the first child accepted at Balanchine’s School of American Ballet at age eight. Later she studied in New York with Margaret Curtis at the Metropolitan Opera Ballet School, and then continued her training with the legendary Littlefield sisters in Philadelphia. In 1953, Ms. Weisberger established the Wilkes-Barre Theater, a ballet school and regional company. Along with Alexei Ramov as co-host, Ms. Weisberger led the first Northeast U.S. Regional Ballet Festival, now Regional Dance America, in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, Pa. in 1959. This chapter of American ballet history launched a regional dance movement that changed the face and future of American ballet.

Ms. Weisberger’s leadership and impact on the field continued when in 1962, with the advice and encouragement of her friend and mentor, Balanchine, she founded the School of the Pennsylvania Ballet in Philadelphia, the initial step in the formation of the Pennsylvania Ballet Company. Under her guidance for 20 years, the Pennsylvania Ballet became internationally renowned. She has served on the National Endowment for the Arts dance panel, and on the board of directors of Dance USA.

From child prodigy to dance company founder, Barbara Weisberger has lived the history of American ballet. She continues to play a pre-eminent role among those who share her concern for the training of young dancers, the enrichment of dance artists, and the future of dance companies in the United States.