American Ballet Theatre to teach "Ballet Basics" at American Girl Place

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American Ballet Theatre Certified Teaching Artist Anna Spelman Teaches Young Girls Movement Inspired by ABT’s Upcoming Performances of “Giselle” at The Auditorium Theatre


CHICAGO, IL – The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University (ATRU) and American Ballet Theatre (ABT) will host a special dance class for girls ages 8 and older at American Girl Place (835 N. Michigan Ave) Saturday, March 10, 11 a.m. – 1p.m. Visiting ABT teaching artist and former ABT dancer Anna Spelman will lead four 20-minute sessions featuring an introduction to the basics of ballet and movement from ABT’s upcoming performance of “Giselle” at ATRU (March 22 – 25). This event is free and open to the public but space is limited. Spots are available on a first come first served basis. No dance experience necessary. 

About American Ballet Theatre’s “Giselle”

 “Giselle” is one of the most popular continuously performed ballets, having had its world premiere on June 28, 1841 at the Theatre de l’Academie Royale de Musique in Paris, with choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, danced by Carlotta Grisi as Giselle and Lucien Petipa as Albrecht.  Since then, the ballet, beloved for its magical story and bravura dancing, has entered the repertoire of almost all of the major ballet companies in the world.

“Giselle” was first presented by American Ballet Theatre (then Ballet Theatre) during the company’s inaugural season at the Center Theatre in New York City on January 12, 1940.  American Ballet Theatre’s current production was created for the film “Dancers,” produced in 1987 by Cannon Films. This production’s first public performance was given on March 20, 1987 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, with Marianna Tcherkassky as Giselle and Kevin McKenzie as Albrecht.  It was staged by Mikhail Baryshnikov after Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot and Marius Petipa, with additional staging by John Taras and Elena Tchernichova.  This production is staged by Kevin McKenzie and features scenery by Gianni Quaranta, costumes by Anna Anni and lighting by Jennifer Tipton.

About ABT Teaching Artist Anna Spelman

Visiting Teaching Artist Anna Spelman began training in ballet at the age of nine at the San Diego Ballet School.  There, and later at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, Anna trained with Thor Sutowski and Dame Sonia Arova.  Anna received scholarships to the School of American Ballet in New York where she started studying as early as age eleven under George Balanchine. She attended Centre Dance International at age twelve under Rosella Hightower in Cannes, France and entered the Eighth International Ballet Competition at Varna, Bulgaria, as a junior contender.  She began her performing career at the age of nine with the San Diego Ballet Company. At the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, Anna performed in August Bournonville’s “The Flower Festival in Genzano” pas de deux and a leading role in Michel Fokine’s “Les Sylphides” which prompted her to win an obelisk award for best female dancer.  Later, while on scholarship at American Ballet Theatre School, Anna had the opportunity to perform Richard England’s “Vivaldi” pas de deux behind another couple on the Metropolitan Opera House stage and was asked to join American Ballet Theatre to perform as a snowflake in the “The Nutcracker,” which marked the beginning of her career with ABT. During her nine-year professional career with ABT, Anna toured the major cities of France, Italy, Japan, and Israel.  Anna danced and acted in the films “Hair”, directed by Milos Forman and choreographed by Twyla Tharp, and “Dancers”, directed by Herbert Ross and filmed in Livorno, Italy. Her television credits include “Live from Lincoln Center”, PBS special “Twyla Tharp with ABT”, and “American Ballet Theatre in San Francisco” and the David Gordon television special “Dance in America”. She has worked closely with choreographers in both ballet and modern dance including George Balanchine, Kenneth MacMillan, Jerome Robbins, Antony Tudor, Frederick Ashton, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Merce Cunningham, David Gordon, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Tharp. Anna continues to fuel her passion for dance by teaching her craft. She resides in Naperville with her husband and their four children.

About American Ballet Theatre

American Ballet Theatre is recognized as one of the great dance companies in the world. Few ballet companies equal ABT for its combination of size, scope and outreach. Recognized as a living national treasure since its founding in 1940, ABT annually tours the United States, performing for more than 600,000 people, and is the only major cultural institution to do so. It has also made more than 15 international tours to 42 countries as perhaps the most representative American ballet company, and has been sponsored by the State Department of the United States on many of these engagements. 
When ABT was launched in 1939, the aim was to develop a repertoire of the best ballets from the past and to encourage the creation of new works by gifted young choreographers, wherever they might be found. Under the direction of Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith from 1940 to 1980, the Company more than fulfilled that aim. The repertoire, perhaps unmatched in the history of ballet, includes all of the great full-length ballets of the nineteenth century, such as “Swan Lake,” “The Sleeping Beauty” and “Giselle,” the finest works from the early part of this century, such as “Apollo,” “Les Sylphides,” “Jardin aux Lilas” and “Rodeo,” and acclaimed contemporary masterpieces such as “Airs,” “Push Comes to Shove” and “Duets”. In acquiring such an extraordinary repertoire, ABT has commissioned works by all of the great choreographic geniuses of the 20th century: George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins, Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp, among others. 
In 1980, Mikhail Baryshnikov became Artistic Director of American Ballet Theatre, succeeding Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith. Under his leadership, numerous classical ballets were staged, restaged and refurbished, and the Company experienced a strengthening and refining of the classical tradition. In 1990, Jane Hermann and Oliver Smith succeeded Mr. Baryshnikov and immediately established an agenda that was dedicated to maintaining the great traditions of the past while aggressively pursuing a vital and innovative future. 
 In October 1992, former American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer Kevin McKenzie was appointed Artistic Director. Mr. McKenzie, steadfast in his vision of ABT as “American,” is committed to maintaining the company’s vast repertoire, and to bringing the art of dance theater to the great stages of the world. 

American Ballet Theatre has appeared in a total of 132 cities in 42 countries, as well as in all fifty states of the United States. ABT has recently enjoyed triumphant successes with engagements in Tokyo, London, Moscow, Beijing and Seoul.  In November 2010, American Ballet Theatre appeared at the Havana International Festival celebrating Alicia Alonso’s 90th birthday. This was the Company’s first visit to Cuba since 1965.

On April 27, 2006, by an act of Congress, American Ballet Theatre became America’s National Ballet Company®.

About American Girl

American Girl Brands, LLC, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAT,, the world’s leading toy company. Since American Girl’s inception in 1986, the company has devoted its entire business to celebrating the potential of girls ages 3 to 12. American Girl encourages girls to dream, to grow, to aspire, to create, and to imagine through a wide range of engaging and insightful books, age-appropriate and educational products, and unforgettable experiences. In meeting its mission with a vigilant eye toward quality and service, American Girl has earned the loyal following of millions of girls and the praise and trust of parents and educators. To learn more about American Girl or to request a free catalogue, call 1-800-845-0005 or visit

About the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University

The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, located at 50 E. Congress Parkway, is an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to presenting the finest in international, cultural and community programming to Chicago, and to the continued restoration and preservation of the National Historic Landmark Auditorium Theatre. The Auditorium Theatre is generously supported by the Illinois Arts Council, CityArts, American Airlines and the Palmer House Hilton.  For more information about programming, volunteer and donor opportunities or theater tours, call (312) 922-2110 or visit

“Giselle” Schedule and Ticket Information at ATRU

The performance schedule for American Ballet Theatre in “Giselle” is as follows:

Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 24 at 2 and 8 p.m.

Sunday, March 25 at 2 p.m.

Tickets, which range in price from $32 to $127, are currently on sale and can be purchased online at, by calling (800) 982-2787 or in-person at ATRU’s box office.

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