Albany Berkshire Ballet Offers Master Class With Eric Otto

Leader Herald (NY)



ALBANY — The School of the Albany Berkshire Ballet will offer a master class with Eric Otto on Saturday, open to area dancers at an intermediate or advanced level.

The 90-minute class begins at 1:30 p.m. at the school, 25 Monroe St., Suite 210, at a cost of $25. Preregistration is due on Wednesday.

Otto was born and raised in Westchester. He began dancing at the age of seven with the School of American Ballet in New York City. He has danced professionally with the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and BalletX. He was an original cast member of Twyla Tharp’s “Come Fly Away,” performing the leading role of Sid. Otto was invited to join the cast of Tharp’s Movin’ Out where he starred in the Broadway and First National Tour companies as James. He has appeared on Broadway in “The Phantom of the Opera” and toured with Tharp for her 50th Anniversary. Otto will also be choreographing new work for Albany Berkshire Ballet for its 2019-20 season.

Preregister by contacting the school at (518) 426-0660 or



The John Krol Show

Friday, November 30, 2018

Albany Berkshire Ballet performs on the show and then we talk with Artistic Director, Madeline Culpo and dancers Kaila Feldpausch & Vincent Brewer.

Albany Berkshire Ballet's 'The Nutcracker'

Albany Berkshire Ballet performs on the show and then we talk with Artistic Director, Madeline Culpo and dancers Kaila Feldpausch & Vincent Brewer. Don't miss The Nutcracker running from 12/1-12/15 in Pittsfield, Albany & Springfield!

Posted by The John Krol Show on Friday, November 30, 2018

WWLP Mass Appeal: The Nutcracker Ballet comes to Springfield Symphony Hall this weekend

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Area student dancers will be performing alongside professional dancers as the Albany Berkshire Ballet presents their 44th year of the Nutcracker. These performances include a familiar face in Springfield! Here to tell us more are performers Richard Hiam, Alexis Conway, and Kaila Feldpausch.

The Nutcracker Albany Berkshire Ballet will take place on December 15th at 1 PM and 4 :30 PM. For more information, visit their website at

MASSLIVE: Albany Berkshire Ballet bringing ‘The Nutcracker’ to Springfield Symphony Hall

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

It never gets old.

A perennial holiday classic that was first performed in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1892, “The Nutcracker” returns to Springfield’s Symphony Hall on Saturday, Dec. 15, when the Albany Berkshire Ballet presents its 44th annual production of the beloved favorite.

A holiday tradition for many families, “The Nutcracker” focuses on Clara, her strange uncle, and her dreamy imagination as she battles the Rat King to save the Nutcracker Prince, and then travels to the enchanted Snow Forest and beautiful Kingdom of Sweets.

Choreographed by ABB’s Artistic Director Madeline Culpo, “The Nutcracker” will be performed at 1 and 4:30 p.m. with a professional mix of premiere U.S. and international dancers, award-winning costumes and set work.

The popular ballet is also staged in conjunction with talented young dance students from area communities. Among them will be Nicholas Sobon, 12, of South Hadley, who will be dancing the role of Fritz at the 1 p.m. performance.

“I saw ‘The Nutcracker’ when I was a little boy. My mom loves it and I loved it, too. Now it’s such an amazing experience to be performing in the show. It is such an amazing experience. Being onstage is so much fun that you forget about the crowd,” said Sobon about not having stage fright.

“It is a big role and I am so happy to be given the opportunity,” he added.

Sobon attends Nutmeg’s Dance & Theatre Co. in Southwick and also Daggett Gymnastics in Agawam.

“I think it is fun to play someone else and get out of comfort zone be someone your not,” he said.

Last year, Sobon performed as one of the party boys in the ABB production, a role which his mom said, “He kind of fell into.”

“Ethan Stack, who goes to gymnastics with me, told me they were looking for more boys to dance in ‘The Nutcracker,'” Sobon said.

“I just want to say that the people at Albany Berkshire Ballet are so amazing….especially Miss Nancy (Nancy Ropelewski King), who is the ballet mistress, and artistic direct Madeline Culpo, as well as Susan Gilbert, who is vice president of their board of directors,” he added.

Nicholas’ mom, Laurie Dunn, has already seen his performance in “The Nutcracker” during their show in Pittsfield.

“I was just so amazed and so proud of what a great job he did,” she said.

There will also be another “star” dancing alongside Sobon.

Longtime arts supporter Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno will make his Albany Berkshire Ballet debut as “Mother Ginger” in their 1 p.m. performance.

“It’s my pleasure to play a small role for a great holiday tradition and cause. And by the way, it’s always good to be able to laugh at myself, too,” said Sarno in an ABB press release.

A total of 770 student dancers are performing in dates in Burlington, Vermont; Albany, New York; and in Pittsfield and Springfield this season.

“This level of participation is a testament to the continuing, and even rekindled interest in this form,” said Culpo. “It’s wonderful to see generation after generation of children growing and benefiting, and forming lifelong ‘Nutcracker’ memories.” 

The Berkshire Edge: Albany Berkshire Ballet to present ‘The Nutcracker’

Tuesday, Nov 27, 2018 

Pittsfield — Albany Berkshire Ballet will present “The Nutcracker” at the Colonial Theatre, 111 South St., Saturday, Dec. 1, at 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 2, at 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.Choreographed by artistic director Madeline Culpo, and set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless music, the story of “The Nutcracker” follows the adventures of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince as they conquer the Mouse King and embark on a magical journey to the Land of Sweets. Sets and scenery were created by theater and movie set designer Carl Sprague, and costumes were designed by Rita Watson and Victile Donahue. ABB’s 2018 annual production of “The Nutcracker” will visit four cities throughout the Northeast. The 2018 tour includes a record-breaking 770 student dancers, 17 of whom will have the opportunity to portray the role of Clara, dancing alongside the company’s 15 professional dancers.Tickets are $20–$44.50. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or call the Colonial ticket office at (413) 997-4444.

Berkshire On Stage: Albany Berkshire’s Nutcracker Sees Record-Breaking Student Participation

Monday, November 26, 2018

Pittsfield, MASS- Nearly 800 youths from around the region will take part in the unique experience of bringing the beloved Nutcracker to life on stage with Albany Berkshire Ballet‘s professional company of dancers, surpassing all past records in its 44thseason.

770 student dancers from the communities ABB serves are performing in dates in Burlinton, Vermont, Albany, New York, Pittsfield and Springfield, Massachusetts this season.

“This level of participation is a testament to the continuing, and even rekindled interest in this form,” said Artistic Director and company founder Madeline Culpo. “It’s wonderful to see generation after generation of children growing and benefiting, and forming lifelong Nutcracker memories.”

With over 225 young dancers in Albany, and just under 200 in Pittsfield, Springfield and Burlington, these numbers represent a dramatic 30% increase in participation in the past year alone. 17 students will have the opportunity to portray the beloved role of Clara, as the children dance alongside the company’s 15 professional dancers.

“ABB has worked very hard to be relevant in a changing world while always remaining true to its roots, and I think we are seeing the results of that in the response from students and audience members of all ages,” states Board of Directors President Alison LaRocca.

Since 1974, Albany Berkshire Ballet’s professional mix of premiere U.S. and international dancers, award-winning costumes and set work- in conjunction with talented young dance students from across the communities its serves- has captivated audiences for many years, and inspired generations in the pursuit of dance. Sets and scenery were created by theater and movie set designer Carl Sprague, a Stockbridge native, and costumes were designed by Rita Watson and Victile Donahue.

The Nutcracker will be appearing in Pittsfield for four performances: Saturday Dec 1 at 2:30PM & 6:30PM and Sunday, Dec 2, at 1:30PM & 6:00PM.

For more information, please call the ABB at 413-445-5382, or visit for tour, ticketing and box office information. 

The Berkshire Eagle: ‘Nutcracker’ ballet performances slated

Monday, November 26, 2018

Pittsfield: Albany Berkshire Ballet will present its 44th annual production of “The Nutcracker” on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1 and 2, at the Colonial Theatre.

Performance times are 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, call the ABB at 413-445-5382, or visit for ticket information.,557340

All Over Albany: Capitol Region Holiday Events 2018

Monday, November 26, 2018

December 8-9: Albany Berkshire Ballet performance of The Nutcracker at The Egg
42nd year year. December 8 at 1:30 pm and 5:30 pm, December 9 at 1 pm — $41 / $26 kids

WWLP: Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno to Perform in the Nutcracker at Symphony Hall 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno will be performing in the Nutcracker Ballet at Symphony Hall next month.

On Sunday, Mayor Sarno took part in rehearsal with members on the Albany Berkshire Ballet. He will play the part of Mother Ginger.

Mayor Sarno told 22News his favorite part of participating in The Nutcracker, saying, “I think the interaction with the kids. I love being with the kids and being able to have a good holiday season, a joyous holiday season, and the Nutcracker is so beloved.”

Mayor Sarno will be in the 1 p.m. show at Symphony Hall on Saturday, December 15th. Tickets are on sale at the Symphony Hall box office.

Stowe Today: “The Nutcracker”

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Local dancers Makayla Courtemanche, Colleen Clark and Ryder Wise, from left, will perform the dream role of Clara in the Albany Berkshire Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” ballet at the Flynn Theater in Burlington Nov. 24 and 25. Makayla and Ryder are Stowe Dance Academy dancers; Colleen is from Fairfax.

Stowe Today: Local dancers land lead role in ‘Nutcracker’

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Three local dancers will play the pivotal role of Clara in the Albany Berkshire Ballet’s 45th annual presentation of “The Nutcracker” at the Flynn Center for Performing Arts in Burlington Nov. 24 and 25.

Ryder Wise will be Clara in the show Nov. 24 at 3 p.m. and Makayla Courtemanche will play the role Nov. 25 at 1 p.m. Both are with Stowe Dance Academy.

In addition, Colleen Clark of Fairfax will be Clara in the show Nov. 24 at 7 p.m.

“The Nutcracker,” Set to Tchaikovsky’s beautiful music, celebrates the magic of the holiday season.

Ryder and Makayla have studied at Stowe Dance Academy since they were very young and currently take classes six days a week at the studio. Ryder and Makayla are also members of the Stowe Dance competitive dance company TRIP.

“I am so proud of my students for their endless energy,” said Helena Sullivan, owner of Stowe Dance Academy. “These girls work very hard, constantly improving and sharing their love of dance with those around them. It is very exciting to see them perform as Clara — something they have dreamed of for a long time.”

This year, the Albany Berkshire Ballet’s company of 15 dancers includes international performers and professionals from New York and Massachusetts. The three performances at the Flynn will also include more than 100 young dancers from this region, ranging in age from 4 to 16, taking on the roles of reindeer, mini-mice, clowns, party children, maids, soldiers and more.

Tickets range from $19 to $43 at Dance brings book to life at Hamagrael Elementary

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

DELMAR — Children’s author David Ira Rottenberg wasn’t much older than the school kids before him when he started writing.

“On my fourth-grade report card my teacher wrote how I enjoyed writing stories to my friends,” said Rottenberg, shortly after reading from “Gwendolyn, the Graceful Pig” to students at Hamegrael Elementary.

The reading was part of a joint performance between the author and a troupe of ballet dancers from the Albany Berkshire Ballet. As Rottenberg read the story of Gwendolyn, a pig, working her way towards becoming a ballerina, the Berkshire Ballet brought the story to life.

“Gwendolyn, the Graceful Pig” is the first book in the popular Gwendolyn series. It tells the tale of Gwendolyn and Omar, two best friends who dream to dance and join the football team, respectively. The plot shares what happens when perseverance and support from friends can help one overcome perceived obstacles.

Rottenberg has authored several books, including two novels and three business books.

The Columbia University graduate has written for publications such as Boston Magazine and the Boston Globe. His poems have appeared in poetry magazines throughout the United States. “Gwendolyn, the Graceful Pig” is not his first attempt at writing about ballet. He’s also penned “Soldiers of Beauty,” a collection of poems about the ballet, too.

Rottenberg has teamed with the Albany Berkshire Ballet for the past several years, an idea conceived through fear no one would show at one of his readings for the book. He invited a ballet dancer to a Barnes and Noble reading, and he said nearly 100 visitors appeared. The pairing was reminiscent of this story’s plotline, too.

Rottenberg’s visit to Hamagrael Elementary School on Thursday, Oct. 18 was the first stop in a tour through each of Bethlehem Central’s elementary schools. Similar tours take the Boston resident throughout New England in both the fall and spring.

A self-proclaimed fan of audiobooks, Rottenberg admits he is not a fan of authors reading from their own work. On his website, he describes it as a “bane” to his audiobook experience to hear an author attempt to read from his or her own work. He said the task requires more than just reading the words, but to be able to adapt the reader’s spoken voice to the book’s voice.

Rottenberg said he won’t ever do an audiobook of his own, but reading in front of children is a “fantastic” experience from which he won’t rob himself.

“The first time I did it, you hear all the children laughing,” he recalled, “and the dancers are like pixie dust — they just make the whole thing come alive.” The Nutcracker Production Leads Weekend Onsale Listings

Friday, October 5, 2018

With the holiday season just around the corner, regional productions of “The Nutcracker” are beginning to infiltrate the ticketing market. There are several ballet companies releasing tickets for upcoming performances of the holiday classic, which bolster both Saturday and Monday’s onsale listings. Ballet Hawaii has a handful of shows with tickets up for grabs tomorrow, while the Lafayette Ballet Theatre, Albany Berkshire Ballet, Inland Dance Theatre and Long Beach Ballet dominate Monday’s listings.

Other popular theatrical productions to appear for sale throughout the weekend include performances of Jersey Boys, Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical in theaters across the country.

Eric Church represents the top concerts, while acclaimed magic from Michael Carbonaro and The Illusionists also appear. Berkshires Beat: Albany Berkshire Ballet Receives Grant For ‘Rockwell in Our Time’

Monday, October 01, 2018

The Albany Berkshire Ballet has been awarded a project grant of $2,500 from the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Cultural Investment Portfolio for the continued development of the new work “Rockwell in Our Time” by choreographer Mary Giannone Talmi. Talmi is collaborating with playwright Kevin McGerigle and composer Christopher Culpo with additional choreography by Andres Ramirez and music by Ben Talmi. The ballet is a multidisciplinary work inspired by Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” that moves forward and backward in time reflecting World War II America and our current national reality.

“The individuals that work together to produce a work of this magnitude are our greatest expense, but also our most critical resource. Our choreographer, dancers, rehearsal mistress, composer, musicians, playwright, costume designer, set designer, production crew, community participants, and administrators devote their time and talent to successfully creating and showcasing this collaboration,” said Madeline Culpo, artistic director and founder of Albany Berkshire Ballet. “Our next greatest expense is the physical production of the materials necessary to frame the movement and artistic vision. These elements include sets, costumes, sound, lighting, educational materials, printed programs, insurance, fire safety, and promotional materials.”

“Rockwell in Our Time” is an ambitious initiative that will require Albany Berkshire Ballet to leverage funding from multiple sources including private donations, corporate sponsors, and philanthropy. The Albany Berkshire Ballet has begun to raise funds from members and other supporters throughout the community. The funding will be used for the further development of this new work – its creation and premiere.

The Albany Berkshire Ballet is nationally recognized for its versatility in performing both classical and contemporary dance works. It will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2019.  It is highly acclaimed for its support of newly emerging artists while working with esteemed contemporary choreographers such as Phillip Jerry, Francis Patrelle, Gus Solomons Jr., Mary Giannone Talmi, Bill T. Jones, and Paula Weber.

The Berkshire Eagle: The arts have their say this weekend in Dalton as 413Heart takes over The Stationery Factory

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

DALTON — When Albany Berkshire Ballet choreographer Mary Talmi first set eyes on the sculptures in Michael Boroniec’s “Spatial Spirals” series, she saw dance.

“I was really struck by how much movement he incorporated into the sculpture,” Talmi said during a phone interview.

Inspired by Boroniec’s work, Talmi created a duet, “Spindown,” that The Stationery Factory will host (along with two of Boroniec’s sculptures) on Thursday evening to help kick off the four-day 413Heart Music & Arts Festival, a project spearheaded by nonprofit Grow Dalton. Dance is new to the third annual event that has broadened from a music-focused gathering to an homage to different art forms. In addition to a Johnny Irion concert, the festival will include a documentary screening, a staged reading and juried art shows.

“It encompasses all the arts. We really want to highlight what a rich cultural community we have here in the Berkshires,” said Pittsfield artist Diane Firtell, one of the chairs of the 413Heart committee.

Firtell has a studio in The Stationery Factory, where all of this year’s events will be held. Talmi feels that the Flansburg Avenue building is an excellent venue for dance, among other art forms.

“The Stationery Factory is just a fabulous space,” she said.

Albany Berkshire Ballet’s Anna Acker and Vincent Brewer will perform “Spindown” before they’re joined by Lisa Iannacito McBride and Ruslan Sprague for two excerpts from “Verdant Fire,” a piece by ABB guest choreographer Jonathan Riedel. A music-and-dance show by tap artist Stefanie Lynx Weber and musician Sam Rosen (both unaffiliated with ABB) will follow.

The night will close with a screening of “Moving Stories,” a documentary about Battery Dance Company members’ experiences teaching dance to youths abroad, and a Q&A session with director Rob Fruchtman……..


The Berkshire Eagle: ‘Process and Performance’: Albany Berkshire Ballet and Williams College to present new works of collaboration

Friday, March 2, 2018

Dance exists in a constant state of renewal. Recreating classic choreography can bring past performances to present day audiences, but new creation propels dance into the future and keeps it alive and kicking.

In an upstairs Pittsfield studio, under the watchful eye of choreographer Mary Talmi, four dancers — two adults and two children — move fluidly across the resilient dance floor, youngsters alternately hoisted onto shoulders and stretched out on the ground.

On Saturday, this dance and six others form “Process and Performance,” Albany Berkshire Ballet’s new works will be showcased at The Stationery Factory in Dalton. The initiative, which launched last year to create new repertory and foster collaboration between the ballet company and Williams College, includes some 20 dancers drawn from Albany and the Berkshires.

Works spanning ballet, modern and folk dance styles include Alexia Barandiaran’s “Aromas” inspired by Latin American dance and music; “Unsquare Dance” by Chuck Paquette with jazzy rhythms by Dave Brubeck; and two romantic, sensual pieces by Jonathan Riedel danced to Bach and Mozart.

Talmi’s “Rockwell In Our Time” draws on the artist’s famed “Freedom From Fear” painting. Excerpted from a larger multidisciplinary piece slated for fall, “it’s really what `Process and Performance’ is about,” Talmi said; “a choreographer and composer getting together on a theme.”

The music by Christopher Culpo, son of Albany Berkshire Ballet founder Madeline Cantarella Culpo, is challenging, Talmi said, pushing her to think about what she can do with the four-dancer family tableau. Working now with the children for the first time helps verify she’s “going in the right direction,” she noted.

Over the course of four decades, the company has partnered with noted choreographers including Laura Dean and Bill T. Jones, creating new works supported by sets, lights and costumes.

“It was time for ABB to get back to that part of its history and be a platform for choreographers both established and emerging, a resource for creation and collaboration,” Talmi said.

A Pittsfield native, Talmi grew up with Cantarella School and the Albany Berkshire Ballet. “From the time I was small sitting on the studio floor watching Madeline, I knew I wanted to choreograph,” she recalled. She began creating dances even before attending The Juilliard School in New York, and has continued ever since.

Another longtime company member, Ruslan Sprague — he debuted as the Changeling at age 3 — will choreograph and perform a pas de deux with Lisa Iannacito McBride to music by Chopin.

When creating new work, music always comes first, he said: “It dictates how I want to move, what I want it to look like, how I want it to feel.” He surfs iTunes, “looking for music that speaks to me.”

Sprague initially choreographs his dance in his head, “then I play with it in the studio.”

Working collaboratively “lets you build on each other,” he observed. To date he has solely worked on short pieces he also dances in, but he has ideas for more substantial projects. “I would need more people,” he noted.

His dance photography will also be displayed, his third Berkshire exhibit this month.

The Williams College collaboration was facilitated by ballet company board President Alison LaRocca, who attended the noted liberal arts school. Under director Sandra Burton the dance department has expanded, and includes several student- and faculty-run ensembles serving both experienced dancers and those new to the art form.

“CoDa” contemporary dance ensemble co-director (and Berkshire Eagle dance reviewer) Janine Parker set “Preludes for Another Time,” on Hannah Antonellis, Eva Leick and Joelle Troiano, with music by Chopin. Fellow CoDa members Aayushi Pramanik, Dew Maskati, Claudia Portugal and Claudia Rodriguez perform in Barandiaran’s “Aromas.”

Creating new work takes time, Parker noted. While dance steps can be learned in a few hours, dancers have to build the stamina to perform them with full-out dance quality, both artistically and physically.

“We’re always happy to work with other artistic organizations as often as we can,” she added. “It’s good for students to get out and see what other dancers are doing.”

Some collaborations go beyond the world of dance. Singer songwriter Grace Ida Marks and guitarist Vlad Zeleny will perform between dances on Saturday. The ballet company has issued a “call to artists” offering access to trained dancers and production support to potential collaborators from filmmakers to poets.

Ultimately, the showcases highlights both new dances and the ballet itself, with its history of presenting programs Talmi described as “diverse choreographically and representing the strong talents of ABB dancers.”

Since performing in different locations attracts new audiences, the goal is to let people all over Berkshire County see the company as something other than The Nutcracker.

“Our intent is to bring ballet to the community,” Talmi said.

She pointed out the evening also includes hors d’oeuvre’s, dessert, a post-show discussion and a cash bar.

“Beer and ballet,” Talmi noted; “how much fun is that?!”,533609