Culture Shock Miami Presents Ballet Memphis In Triple Bill of New and Recent Choreography

Miami, Florida (PRWEB) March 29, 2015

(Miami, March 23, 2015) Approaching its third decade as a leading ballet company and incubator of new choreography, Ballet Memphis takes the Main Stage at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 8 PM. Culture Shock Miami presents the Tennessee-based company in a three-part program featuring works by North American choreographers Trey McIntyre, Julia Adam and Matthew Neenan.

Ballet Memphis was founded in 1986 by native Memphian Dorothy Gunther Pugh, a leader in the field of ballet and dance education and who serves as Artistic Director. The company has toured extensively throughout the United States and has been called a “national treasure” by the Ford Foundation.

Gunther Pugh said, “We’re proud to present some of our truly unique and truly American commissioned ballets from two of our most popular collections, the Memphis Project and the River Project. At Ballet Memphis, we’re committed to creating dance that reflects the world, represents our rich local and global heritage and makes a place at the table, so to speak, for all.”

The program scheduled for South Miami-Dade audiences offers three very different choreographic themes.

Devil’s Fruit by Canadian-born Julia Adam is the second piece Adam has choreographed for the River Project series, a Ballet Memphis program focusing on dance based on movement echoing the Mississippi River. In this new work, Adam explores the flora and fauna along the river, specifically the vast and intricate underground network of mushrooms.

Party of the Year (Victoria Avenue, CA 12/25/70) by American Matthew Neenan is inspired by the New York Times-best-selling book, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. The book chronicles three different lives filled with struggle, defeat and triumph during the heart of the “Great Migration,” an era between 1910 and 1970 when more than 6 million African Americans moved out of the rural South to other parts of the United States.

In Dreams by Trey McIntyre is a small but powerfully poignant work created for Ballet Memphis in 2007 and set to the music of Roy Orbison. Ballet Memphis Founder and Artistic Director Dorothy Gunther Pugh calls Orbison “the Placido Domingo of country music” and likened his singing to “the sound of the human heart breaking”. In Dreams is a work The New York Times called “…distinctive, touching” and moves the audience along with the dancers emotion.

The company tours with a cast of ten and will participate in community and education based activities for Miami-Dade public school students prior to the Saturday night performance. On Friday, April 24th, the company will hold a free performance of its evening program for students. A free masterclass open to advance ballet dancers will be held on April 25th at 10:00 AM. Both events will be at South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center.

$ 5 tickets are available to 13-22 year olds and one accompanying guest each, exclusively through

Full price tickets are $ 45 to $ 25 and $ 15 for Youth Tickets for 12 years old and under. These tickets are available online at or through the SMDCAC box office by calling 786-573-5300. $ 5 Culture Shock Miami tickets are not sold through the SMDCAC Box Office or through Culture Shock Miami ticket sales for this performance end on Friday, April 24, 2015 at 11:59 PM. No $ 5 tickets are available or through the SMDCAC box office.


In Dreams

Choreographer: Trey McIntyre

Cast: Travis Bradley, Crystal Brothers, Steven McMahon, Julie Marie Niekrasz, Virginia Pilgrim Ramey

Costumes: Bruce Bui

Music: All songs performed by Roy Orbison. “Dream Baby” by Cindy Walker, “You Tell Me” by Sam Phillips, “The Crowd” by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson, “I Never Knew” by Sam Phillips, “In Dreams” by Roy Orbison. Interview with Roy Orbison: Being Remembered from Roy Orbison: Hits! Hits! Hits!, “Crying” by Orbison/Melson

Notes: Performed to the expressive voice of Roy Orbison, In Dreams is a sometimes dark, always passionate, journey through six of the legendary artist’s most popular songs.

Devil’s Fruit

Choreographer: Julia Adam

Cast: Travis Bradley, Kendall G. Britt Jr., Crystal Brothers, Hideko Karasawa, Steven McMahon, Virginia Pilgrim Ramey

Costumes: Christine Darch

Music: “Recomposed,” “Vivaldi, The Four Seasons: Spring 1,” and “Vivaldi, The Four Seasons: Spring 2” by Max Richter; “Islands” by Philip Glass; “The Four Seasons Concerto in F Minor, RV 297” by Red Priest; “Recomposed,” “Vivaldi, The Four Seasons: Summer 2” by Max Richter.

Notes: I approached this work as a tripartite positioning of the mushroom: The science, the pagan mythology and the mind-altering power of the mushroom to initiate one into the mysteries of the divine. I am overwhelmed and amazed by the beauty and power of the fungi kingdom.

Party of the Year (Victoria Avenue, CA 12/25/70)

Choreographer: Matthew Neenan

Cast: Travis Bradley, Kendall G. Britt Jr., Crystal Brothers, Jared Brunson, Anwen David, Hideko Karasawa, Julie Marie Niekrasz, Brandon Ramey, Virginia Pilgrim Ramey

Costumes: Bruce Bui

Music: “Buon Natale” by Nat King Cole; “Blues Power” by Albert King; “Ride on Red, Ride On” by Louisiana Red; “Hide Nor Hair” by Ray Charles; “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven” by Albert King; “Save the Country” by The 5th Dimension; “Silver Bells” guitar solo by Charles Hammer; and “California” by Joni Mitchell.

Notes: Inspired by the best-selling book The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, Party of the Year chronicles the celebration and homecoming of sorts many African-Americans felt during and after the Great Migration (1910-70) from the South to other regions of the country.


Ballet Memphis, founded in 1986 by artistic director and CEO Dorothy Gunther Pugh, is recognized for its close ties to the region’s rich musical and literary heritage. It has been heralded for its innovations as a ballet company committed to creating and commissioning relevant work, nurturing young choreographers, and expanding the roles of dancers within the company and the community.

Ballet Memphis’ annual thematic programming includes the AbunDANCE and Connections series as well as the FUSE partnership across other artistic disciplines. The acclaimed AbunDANCE series, which just finished its fourth installment, celebrates new ways to look at the world around us. In past seasons, AbunDANCE has taken fans on a journey through religion, art, and music. In the 2010/2011 season, AbunDANCE celebrated the influential roles women play in society with four works inspired by or created by women in a season titled Where the Girls Are 2. The Connections series, which includes the company’s annual gala event Connections: Food, pairs the art of dance with the essential elements of life that surround us, support us and engage us in everyday life. From architecture to fashion to the earth and sky, and of course food, Ballet Memphis shows the world how these integral parts of life are intrinsically artistic expressions as well.

In addition to its mixed repertory programs, Ballet Memphis also presents story ballets, often retold and choreographed anew with reflections of modern-day themes. Most recently, the company staged Sleeping Beauty, choreographed by company member Travis Bradley as well as a new Wizard of Oz and Cinderella, choreographed by Steven McMahon, a company member as well as the company’s choreographic associate. The company’s original and majestic Nutcracker has been performed in part on university campuses and regional theatres across the southeast as well as to a full orchestra in Spokane, Washington. In the 2010/2011 season, McMahon’s version of Romeo & Juliet will close out the company’s mainstage shows.

Choreographers who have created works on Ballet Memphis include Julia Adam (current artistic associate), Trey McIntyre (resident choreographer from 2001-07), Mark Godden, Dana Tai Soon Burgess, Jane Comfort, Lila York, Robert Battle, Thaddeus Davis, and Emily Coates and Lacina Coulibaly, both of whom worked with Ballet Memphis as part of dance fusion exploration supported in part by the World Performance Project at Yale University.

The company has performed to critical acclaim in New York at both the Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse and the Joyce Theater. Its performances as part of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ “Ballet Across America” programming were heralded in the New York Times and The Washington Post, as well as in national dance media. Ballet Memphis has performed at Houston’s Dance Salad, Spring to Dance in St. Louis, and Canada’s Festival des Arts Saint-Sauveur. With tour support awarded from the National Dance Project (a program of the New England Foundation for the Arts), the company will be presented in eight states in four different regions in the 2011/12 season including: The Duncan Theatre at Palm Beach State College; the Carpenter Center in Long Beach, CA; McKendree University in Lebanon, IL; Hammons Hall in Springfield, MO; and at the inaugural season at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, IN.

The company has been profiled and reviewed in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, PBS Newshour, Dance magazine, Pointe magazine, The Huffington Post, and more. Ballet Memphis has garnered national attention through “Creating Work That Matters: Memphis Choreographs to the Soul of a City,” part of The Ford Foundation’s The Business of the Arts monograph series, and What Works: A Dance of Relevance by Jocelyn Dong, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business Social Innovation Review, Winter 2004.

Ballet Memphis is housed in a national architectural award-winning facility in suburban Memphis. The company performs at the state-of-the-art Playhouse on the Square, the historic Orpheum Theatre and at other nontraditional venues around Memphis. The company also performs for and presents teaching artist sessions to more than 15,000 students annually. The Ballet Memphis School trains more than 700 students annually, with almost 40 percent on merit- or need-based scholarships. Performance and choreographic experience is provided through the Junior Company of Ballet Memphis. A stand-alone Pilates Centre in suburban Memphis, as well as classes at the company’s studios, serves more than 300 clients annually. The combined programs of Ballet Memphis–professional company, school and Pilates Centre–serve more than 75,000 people annually.


DOROTHY GUNTHER PUGH (Founder & Artistic Director) is a native Memphian who began her ballet training with Edith Royal of Orlando, Florida and later studied with Louise Rooke and Memphis Ballet. After graduating cum laude from Vanderbilt University, she studied with Raymond Clay and Donna Carver, and performed with Dance Concert Theatre. She completed teacher-training courses at the Royal Academy of Dance in London and with New York ballet master David Howard. Dorothy appeared on several national dance panels, including PBS NewsHour, the National Endowment for the Arts Dance Panel and the Glass Slipper Ceiling Symposium. A member of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, she has received the Women of Achievement Award for Initiative and the Gordon Holl Outstanding Arts Administrator’s Award, and is a recipient of a fellowship from the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. She is a fellow in the National Arts Strategies’ Chief Executive Program™ and was named a 2012 Legends Award winner from the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis. In 2013, she received the Briggs’ Foundation Community Service Award. She is the 2014 chair of the Artistic Directors’ Council for Dance/USA, the nation’s largest dance service organization for professional dance companies. Dorothy appeared in many roles with Ballet Memphis before leaving the stage.

TRAVIS BRADLEY (Dancer) has performed many memorable roles for Ballet Memphis, such as John Darling in Peter Pan, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, as well as the role of the Prince in Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Nutcracker. He has danced the Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz, as well as many significant parts in Trey McIntyre ballets, such as The Naughty Boy, Barramundi, and Pork Songs. Other notable ballets include Julia Adam’s Devil’s Fruit, Gabrielle Lamb’s Manifold and Julie Niekrasz’s Corps de Fortitude, and he was selected by Robert Battle–the current artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater–to perform the Takademe solo. Travis also has choreographed notable works for the Company including Splinters of the Stars, The Ugly Duckling and Sleeping Beauty. Travis previously danced with Houston Ballet and Richmond Ballet. He trained at The Harid Conservatory and Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy. Travis is from Mechanicsville, Va., and joined Ballet Memphis in 2004.

KENDALL G. BRITT JR. (Dancer) has danced in several Steven McMahon ballets including the title role in Peter Pan as well as the roles of Romeo and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, the Prince in Cinderella, and the Lion in Wizard of Oz. Kendall also danced the memorable role of Puck in Mark Godden’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Prince in Nutcracker. Kendall was selected by Robert Battle–artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater–to perform his prestigious Takademe solo. He has performed soloist roles in Julia Adam’s Seven Threads and Curtain of Green, in Petr Zahradníček’s The Hurdle Runner, and in Trey McIntyre’s High Lonesome, among others. In July 2013, Kendall danced with fellow Company member Hideko Karasawa at the prestigious Ballet Asteras 2013 gala in Tokyo. Before joining Ballet Memphis, Kendall trained on full scholarship at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School and Ballet Academy East. He also attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. Kendall is a 2006 National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts youngARTS merit scholarship recipient. He is from New York City and joined the company in 2006.

CRYSTAL BROTHERS (Dancer) joined Ballet Memphis in 1996. She has danced lead roles in many Ballet Memphis productions including Steven McMahon’s Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella; Mark Godden’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and Firebird; Joseph Jefferies’ The Little Mermaid as well as in Beauty and the Beast, S’epanouir, Paquita, Swan Lake, and Giselle. Recent ballets include Rafael Ferreras’ Politics, Steven McMahon’s Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan, and Julia Adam’s Devil’s Fruit. She also has danced in works by many noted choreographers including Matthew Neenan, Thaddeus Davis, Jane Comfort and Trey McIntyre. Crystal was named “Outstanding Artist in Dance” by the Tennessee Arts Commission and is the first Ballet Memphis recipient of the award. Crystal also was named by Pointe magazine as one of the top eight dancers to watch in the world. She teaches all levels of ballet and is a certified STOTT PILATES® instructor for the Pilates Centre of Ballet Memphis. Crystal is from Yuma, Ariz., and joined the company in 1996.

JARED BRUNSON (Dancer) Jared first worked as a guest artist with Ballet Memphis during its premiere of Peter Pan before joining this season as a dancer. He was raised in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he began his dance training at the age of six with Monica Richardson, Jai Hinson and Darius Carter. He began formal training at age 11 in ballet and modern at the Academy of Ballet Arts and the Pinellas County Center for the Arts. Jared has studied and done intensives at many prestigious schools and programs around the country including The Rock School, Boston Ballet School, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy, and more. Following a stint with the Florida Dance Theatre, he joined Philadelphia’s BalletX. There, he participated in seven world premieres by acclaimed choreographers including Matthew Neenan, Nicolo Fonte, Mauro Astofli, and Gabrielle Lamb. Jared has performed works by Nacho Duato, George Balanchine, Marius Petipa and Christopher Stowell. He has worked with Oregon Ballet Theatre and Pennsylvania Ballet. Jared also is an accomplished, award-winning concert trumpet player.

ANWEN DAVID (Dancer) Anwen is in her second season with Ballet Memphis. In her first season, she danced Clara in Nutcracker as well as roles in Matthew Neenan’s Water of the Flowery Mill, Julie Niekrasz’s Corps de Fortitude, and Steven McMahon’s Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan. Anwen trained at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School under the direction of Dennis Marshall and Marjorie Grundvig. While at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, Anwen performed works including pas de deux in Giselle Act II, Le Corsaire and Bluebird, and in original works by Alan Obuzor. She also trained at the San Francisco Ballet School under the direction of Lola de Avila and Patrick Armand, and has performed in Western Symphony, La Sylphide, Paquita and Helgi Tomasson’s Simple Symphony. With San Francisco Ballet, Anwen performed in Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella and Helgi Tomasson’s Nutcracker. In 2011 she participated in the Prix de Lausanne competition in Switzerland. She is from Pittsburgh, Pa.

HIDEKO KARASAWA (Dancer) joined Ballet Memphis following a full merit scholarship from San Francisco Ballet School. During her time with Ballet Memphis, Hideko has danced Clara in the Nutcracker, the title role in Steven McMahon’s Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet, and in Trey McIntyre’s Grace and High Lonesome, among many other roles. In July 2013, she and fellow Company member Kendall G. Britt Jr. performed at the prestigious Ballet Asteras 2013 in Tokyo. She has competed and placed in many prestigious ballet competitions worldwide, including the Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland and the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Miss. While in San Francisco, she danced soloist roles such as pas de trois in Helgi Tomasson’s Swan Lake, Clara in The Nutcracker and Airs de Ballet by Lew Christensen. Hideko is from Nagano, Japan.

STEVEN MCMAHON (Dancer) was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and came to the U.S. to study at the Ailey School in New York City. After graduating in 2004 he joined Ballet Memphis. Steven has danced many works in the Company’s repertory including featured roles in Julia Adam’s Curtain of Green, The Little Prince, Devil’s Fruit and The Awakening as well as in Trey McIntyre’s powerful work In Dreams and Mark Godden’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and Firebird. He became choreographic associate for Ballet Memphis in 2007, contributing several new works including Carnival of the Animals, Wizard of Oz, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, Being Here With Other People, Confluence, The Royal We and the lauded Peter Pan. This is his first season as the Company’s Artistic Associate. Steven also performed In Dreams with Ballet Memphis at the Kennedy Center as part of its Ballet Across America series and at the Joyce Theatre in New York City. In 2001, Steven was named Scottish Young Achiever of the Year.

JULIE MARIE NIEKRASZ (Dancer) is in her 11th season with Ballet Memphis. She has danced the lead roles in Steven McMahon’s Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet and as Wendy in Peter Pan, Clara in the Nutcracker, the Princess in Joseph Jefferies’ Little Mermaid, Aurora in Travis Bradley’s Sleeping Beauty, and Hermia in Mark Godden’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Other recent roles include in Matthew Neenan’s Water of the Flowery Mill and Party of the Year. She also has danced in Trey McIntyre’s Reassuring Effects of Form and Poetry, Barramundi, In Dreams and The Naughty Boy. Julie performed In Dreams with Ballet Memphis at the Kennedy Center as part of its Ballet Across America series and performed on tour in Guatemala. For Ballet Memphis, she has choreographed Corps de Fortitude, part of River Project 2. Julie represented Ballet Memphis as a member of the Sr. U.S. team at the International Ballet Competition in Helsinki, Finland. Before joining Ballet Memphis, Julie trained at the School of Ballet Chicago under the direction of Daniel Duell and Patricia Blair, and danced with Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet II and North Carolina Dance Theatre. She is a teacher in the Ballet Memphis School and a certified STOTT PILATES® instructor for the Pilates Centre of Ballet Memphis. Julie is from Arlington Heights, Illinois.

BRANDON RAMEY (Dancer) came to Ballet Memphis in 2009 from the San Francisco Ballet School, where he studied on a full merit scholarship. For Ballet Memphis, Brandon has performed featured roles in Trey McIntyre’s Second Before the Ground and The Naughty Boy, in Garrett Ammon’s Stars Stand Still, and in Mark Godden’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and Angels in the Architecture. His repertory also includes Cavalier and Russian in the Nutcracker, George in Shapiro & Smith’s George and Betty’s House, and roles in Travis Bradley’s Sleeping Beauty, Julia Adam’s The Second Line and Petr Zahradnicek’s Night and Day in FedEx City. He danced the roles of Tybalt and Hook in Steven McMahon’s Romeo and Juliet and Peter Pan. Additional training includes Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Boston Ballet School. He has performed in Lew Christensen’s Concerto Grosso and was the lead male in Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante for the 2009 San Francisco Ballet Student Showcase. This is his fifth season with Ballet Memphis.

VIRGINIA PILGRIM RAMEY (Dancer) is a native Memphian and first joined Ballet Memphis in 2001 after graduating from the Ballet Memphis School. Notable roles include Betty in Shapiro & Smith’s George and Betty’s House, the Sugar Plum in the Nutcracker, and Dorothy in Wizard of Oz and as Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, both by Steven McMahon. Ginny also has danced featured roles in Mark Godden’s Angels in the Architecture and Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julia Adam’s Devil’s Fruit, The Awakening and The Little Prince. She also has worked with Matthew Neenan in Party of the Year, Gabrielle Lamb in Manifold, and danced Kitri in the pas de deux from Don Quixote. Ginny has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and on tour with Ballet Memphis across the nation. While working with Trey McIntyre, she was featured in the world premieres of Barramundi, Pork Songs, The Naughty Boy, and her personal favorite, In Dreams. From 2008-09, Ginny toured with Trey McIntyre Project, performing throughout the United States and around the world. She danced featured roles in his The Reassuring Effects of Form and Poetry and A Day in the Life and originated roles in his Leatherwing Bat and Ma Maison. Ginny teaches Ballet 7 & 8 at the Ballet Memphis School and also works with the Junior Company.


Culture Shock Miami, is a program of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, with a generous grant from The John S. & James L. Knight Foundation. Since then, it has more than 43,000 tickets through its website A core group of arts organizations participate regularly in the program, including Actors’ Playhouse, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Cleveland Orchestra Miami, Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet, Pérez Art Museum, New World Symphony, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, and ZooMiami.

The Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council develop cultural excellence, diversity and participation throughout Miami-Dade County by strategically creating and promoting opportunities for artists and cultural organizations, and our residents and visitors who are their audiences. The Department directs the Art in Public Places program and serves its board, the Art in Public Places Trust, commissioning, curating, maintaining and promoting the County’s art collection. The Department also manages, programs and operates the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, a campus of state-of-the-art cultural facilities in Cutler Bay, as well as Miami-Dade County Auditorium, Joseph Caleb Auditorium and the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, all dedicated to presenting and supporting excellence in the arts for the entire community. Through staff, board and programmatic resources, the Department, the Council and the Trust promote, coordinate and support Miami-Dade County’s more than 1,000 not-for-profit cultural organizations as well as thousands of resident artists through grants, technical assistance, public information and interactive community planning.

The Department receives funding through the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners, The Children’s Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, the State of Florida through the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Other support and services are provided by TicketWeb for the Culture Shock Miami program, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, the South Florida Cultural Consortium and the Tourist Development Council.

Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act

It is the policy of Miami-Dade County to comply with all of the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The facility is accessible and assistive listening devices are available. To request materials in accessible format, and/or any accommodation to attend an event at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, please contact Stephanie Aponte, 786-573-5314, Saponte(at)miamidade(dot)gov, at least five days in advance to initiate your request, TYY users may also call 711 (Florida Relay Service).

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