Ballet des Amériques Company

La danse peut révéler tout ce que la musique recèle de mystérieux, et elle a de plus le mérite d’être humaine et palpable. La danse, c’est la poésie avec des bras et des jambes, c’est la matière, gracieuse et terrible, animée, embellie par le mouvement.

Dance can reveal everything mysterious that is hidden in music, and it has the additional merit of being human and palpable. Dancing is poetry with arms and legs. It is matter, graceful and terrible, animated and embellished by movement.
- Charles Baudelaire

Established in 2011 under the directorship of Carole Alexis, Ballet des Amériques, as its name implies, inserts itself into the French cultural heritage of the Americas. Following a thought of Aimé Césaire, this heritage is conceived as drawing on its European and African roots, while being genuinely open to the world and absorbing its rich variety of traditions in a continuous dialogue. On this basis, Ballet des Amériques aims to model a trajectory of developing dance from its classical tradition into a vibrant and relevant future.

Composed of classically trained dancers from around the world, the young company has already successfully performed the choreographies of Carole Alexis in a variety of festivals, venues and benefits such as a United Nations event celebrating Aimé Césaire and commemorating the abolition of slavery, the NYC10 Dance Initiative at Dixon Place, the Performance Lab Series, the Fertile Ground dance series, the Festival de Fort-de-France in Martinique, the Journée internationale de la Francophonie at Florence Gould Hall, the Kate Wildish NYC Festival of Dance Schools, the Emelin Theatre in Mamaroneck, a homage to Edouard Glissant at the French Embassy in New York, and a fundraiser for the Rosemarie K. Witter Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting medical research in finding effective treatment and a cure for Lupus.

Ballet des Amériques Company is a member of Dance/USA - The national service organization for professional dance.

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Carole Alexis, Director

Carole Alexis’ work as a choreographer is deeply informed by her multicultural and intercontinental background and training on the one hand, and her interdisciplinary approach to performance on the other. In New York City, for example, she has choreographed and performed - both as a singer and a dancer - at the River to River Festival, the Festival de la Francophonie, at Carnegie Hall and at Lincoln Center with artists such as Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Kathy Engel, Michael Ratner, The Mighty Sparrow, Susan Sarandon.

Taking her cue from a thought of Aimé Césaire, in 2011, Carole Alexis launched Ballet des Amériques, a new venture in dance training, education and performance intended to give a voice to the world’s various traditions of dance on the basis of classical ballet training, while self-consciously situating itself in the context of the Americas. The young company has already performed her most recent choreographies at the Festival de Fort-de-France in Martinique, the Journée internationale de la Francophonie at Florence Gould Hall, the Kate Wildish NYC Festival of Dance Schools and at the Emelin Theatre in Mamaroneck.

Aesthetically and technically, the tradition of classical ballet broadly conceived to include its modern and contemporary successors offers Carole Alexis the broad range of language and richness of vocabulary that is well-suited as a basis for a choreography that is genuinely open to the world and all of its traditions: “I always find myself traveling between cultures, genres and techniques, engaged in a constant dialogue,” she explains. And indeed, the elements of her choreography as well as the multi-ethnic and multicultural composition of her Ballet des Amériques dance company give credence to this approach. Having grown up and received her training and education in France, the Caribbean and Africa, Carole Alexis at a young age chose the Béjart school to obtain the kind of formation that would form a solid basis from which to receive, appropriate and develop a rich variety of traditions and influences in music, dance and the performing arts in general.

From a classical basis and drawing on multifarious influences, Carole Alexis creates works that spark our curiosity, that question and explore, yet that always give pride of place to the sheer physicality and visceral character of dance.

Mme. Alexis’ approach to dance, performance and choreography was informed early on by the teachings of the three founders of the Negritude movement, Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and Léon-Gontran Damas. She believes that art expresses the infinite possibilities of humanity, a kind of universal consciousness, and that it should be a platform for cultural action leading to a reflection on the possibilities of social change.

As an honors graduate of the Mudra School created by Maurice Béjart, Léopold Sédard Senghor and UNESCO, Carole Alexis excelled in all varieties of dance. She has toured in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean, dancing as a soloist, ensemble member and freelancer in many companies and productions including: Rick Odums Dance Company - Artistic Director: Rick Odums; Compagnie Du Corail, Soloist - Directors: Jean-Paul Césaire and Suzi Maniry; Les Ballets Jazz de Paris, Soloist - Artistic Director: Mervyn Francis; Moise Dance Company, Soloist - Artistic Director: Moise; Claire Tallia, Soloist - Artistic Director: Claire Tallia; Compagnie Irene Tassembedo.  

Carole Alexis studied with: Maurice Béjart, ballet and choreographic intensives; Nikoloz Makhateli, ballet; Bertrand Pie, ballet; Jorge Lefèbre, Director of the Royal Ballet of Wallonie, ballet and choreographic work; Solange Golovine, ballet; Jaqueline Fyneart, barre au sol; Larrio Ekson, modern dance and choreographic intensives; Julien Jouga, music; Goris Théâtre; Doudou NDiaye Rose, percussion; Jacqueline Rayet, Opéra de Paris, ballet; Savitri Nair, Bharata Natyam; Rick Odums, jazz and modern jazz; Peter Goss, Modern Jose Limon based; Jay Allen Augen, ballet; Andrej Glekovski, ballet; Yuriko Kikuchi, Director of the Martha Graham Company; Bruce Taylor, modern dance, modern jazz and choreographic work; Jean-Claude Zadith, ballet, Barre au sol, modern dance and choreographic work; Nina Valery, ballet; Germaine Acogny, African dance and choreographic work; Ray Phillips, modern Graham technique; Jaqueline Scott Lemoine, theater; Jean-Claude Lamorandière, contemporary and Afro-Caribbean dance.

During her studies, Carole Alexis won numerous merit scholarships and the First Prize of Minolta Danse pour l’image. Her image has graced several magazine covers and she has been featured in many newspaper articles and magazines including the Encyclopédie de la Femme Antillaise. A documentary entitled Come Dance With Me, directed by Jean-Paul Césaire, portrays the early career of Carole Alexis when she was discovered by Aimé Césaire.

Isodale Alexis, Dancer

Isodale Alexis Ballet des Amériques Company DancerIsodale Alexis started her ballet training at the age of five with her mother, Carole Alexis, with whom she still trains today. Isodale has performed on the stages of the Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Florence Gould Hall, Joyce Theater, L’Atrium Martinique and more. She also took classes at the Manhattan Youth Ballet, Studio Maestro, Joffrey Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem and studied music at the Harbor Conservatory, and the Bloomingdale School of Music. Isodale graduated from Ballet des Amériques School in June 2012. In addition to pursuing her career in dance, Isodale is attending the Borough of Manhattan Community College (CUNY) as a Liberal Arts student.

Ashley Cook, Dancer

Ashley Cook Ballet des Amériques Company DancerA native of Long Island, New York, Ashley began her training at Starlite School of Dance, where she performed competitively under the instruction of Jodi Vaccaro. She then studied at Seiskaya Ballet and continued her ballet training with ABT stars Leslie Browne and Ethan Brown at The School at Steps in New York City. Ashley received a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Biology from Mercyhurst University, where she trained under Tauna Hunter and Michael Gleason and performed featured roles, including Lise in La Fille Mal Gardée and the lead in Paquita. She also performed with the Lake Erie Ballet Company for three seasons and danced with Mercyhurst Ballet Theatre. Upon graduating, Ashley spent the following season with Ballet Quad Cities, under Artistic Director Courtney Lyon, dancing in Dracula, The Nutcracker, and Carmen. Ashley's dance education includes summer intensives with American Ballet Theatre, Princeton Ballet School, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.

Celeste Landa, Dancer

Celeste Landa Ballet des Amériques Company DancerMexican-American dancer Celeste Landa has a diverse and accomplished career as a young performer. Her training began at the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in Palm Beach Florida. As student of New World School of the Arts, she also studied on scholarship with American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Austin. Alongside her performance experience, Celeste spent two years at Vantage Point Dance Studios under the direction of J.J. Butler as a dance instructor. More recently, Celeste began training at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in midtown New York. Additionally, Ms. Landa has joined Ballet des Amériques, where she looks forward to having a special collaborative experience.

Garrett McCann, Dancer

Garrett McCann Ballet des Amériques Company DancerBorn in Akron, Ohio, Garrett McCann attended Firestone High School, graduating with a Performing Arts degree. Garrett also studied dance at the University of Akron and spent a summer at Point Park University's International Summer Dance program. Following graduation from Firestone's Visual and Performing Arts program, Garrett joined Verb Ballets in Cleveland, Ohio, under the direction of Margaret Carlson. After a year and two summers with the company, Garrett went on to pursue his education at SUNY Purchase in the Conservatory of Dance, where he graduated with a BFA in dance performance. During his time at Purchase, Garrett studied under Stephanie Tooman, Wallie Wolfgruber, Nelly van Bommel and many others. He has performed works set by Amy Miller, Nicolo Fonte and attended the American Dance Festival, where he worked with Twyla Tharp. 2015-16 is Garrett's debut season with Ballet des Amériques.

Irene Przywara, Dancer

Irene Przywara Ballet des Amériques Company DancerIrene Przywara was born in San Francisco, California, and trained in New York City on full scholarship at The School of American Ballet, at Ballet Academy East, and in Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Professional Training Program as well as in the Professional Division at The Ailey School. She has spent summers training with American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, Orlando Ballet, and New York State Summer School of the Arts. Ms. Przywara has performed with Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati Ballet II, the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble under Arthur Mitchell, Eglevsky Ballet under both Ali Pourfarrukh and Lazlo Berdo, Lumière Ballet under Venti Petrov, and, as an apprentice in the second company, with North Carolina Dance Theatre under Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux. She is very honored to be dancing with Ballet des Amériques.

Adrienne Riter, Dancer

Adrienne was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, and received the majority of her dance training at the Portland Ballet, where she performed numerous roles with their Youth Company and had the opportunity to attend summer intensives at ABT, Boston Ballet and Nashville Ballet among others. After she graduated from Jesuit High School, she moved to New York to attend Marymount Manhattan College. After 3 years in NYC, Adrienne graduated in 2011 with a B.F.A. in Dance and a minor in Business Administration.  Following graduation, Adrienne spent a year as a teaching artist at the Bodyvox Dance Center, where she had the opportunity to lead their school residencies in Portland-area public schools. In September 2012, Adrienne returned to the East Coast, moving to Stamford, Connecticut, to take a position dancing with the Connecticut Ballet.  She is currently still dancing with the Connecticut Ballet as well as teaching various dance styles at multiple studios in the Stamford area.  Adrienne joined Ballet des Amériques this past September and is very excited to be working with the company and is looking forward to the future.


Christine Sawyer, Dancer

Christine Sawyer Ballet des Amériques Company DancerChristine Emi Sawyer, a New Jersey native, received the majority of her training in New York City at the School of American Ballet as well as the School at Steps under Leslie Browne, Ethan Brown, and David Howard on full scholarship. She attended summer intensives such as American Ballet Theatre, NY, Kaatsbaan, North Carolina Dance Theatre, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. While still in high school, she performed as a guest artist in the Nutcracker with Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, the Belle Meade Ballet Company in New Jersey, and the Nolte Dance Academy in Iowa. Christine was a company member with the State Street Ballet in Santa Barbara, CA from 2006-2011 as well as a 2.5 month tour to China this past summer. In 2011, she moved to Los Angeles and danced in companies such as Anaheim Ballet, Pasadena Dance Theatre, and Santa Monica Contemporary Ballet and was a performer at Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood. She has also been a freelance artist performing principal roles such as Sugar Plum and Snow Queen in the Nutcracker. Christine moved back to the NYC area last year and became a company member of Brooklyn Ballet and iKADA Contemporary Dance Company. 2015-16 is Christine's first season with Ballet des Amériques.

Jenna Simon, Dancer

Jenna Simon Ballet des Amériques Company DancerJenna Simon began dancing at the age of five at the Mid-Maryland Performing Arts Center in Frederick, Maryland. There she received training in the R.A.D. and Graham technique under the direction of Esperanza Alzona. At the age of thirteen she joined the Potomac Classical Youth Ballet Company dancing solo roles in ballets including Peter and the Wolf, Paquita, and The Nutcracker. Jenna graduated cum laude from Goucher College in 2008 with a B.A. in Communications and Media Studies and a minor in Dance Performance. At Goucher she performed in works choreographed by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Michael Vernon, William Whitener, Nilas Martins, and Anne Hutchinson-Guest. During her last semester of college, she joined Washington Reflections Dance Company in Washington, D.C., for one season. She has also been a guest artist for the Baltimore Ballet Company. In the summer of 2008, Jenna moved to NYC after receiving a fellowship to dance at the Alvin Ailey Summer Program. She joined DeMa Dance Company in 2009 and continues to perform with them regularly throughout NYC. She also dances for Trainor Dance in NYC. Jenna is thrilled to be dancing with Ballet des Amériques.