Born in Minneapolis, Minn., Simone Messmer began studying dance at the age of nine at Ballet Arts Minnesota. At 14, she continued her training at The HARID Conservatory in Boca Raton, Fla., and was awarded the Jeannot B. Cerrone Award for Excellence in Dance. At 16, she resumed her training at Ballet Arts Minnesota under the direction of Bonnie Mathis. Messmer participated in American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive Program in 2001 and joined ABT Studio Company in that same year. Messmer danced with ABT for over a decade, rising to the rank of soloist in 2010. While in the company, Messmer originated major roles in new works by Alexei Ratmansky such as Firebird, Symphony #9, On the Dnieper, as well as by Christopher Wheeldon and Benjamin Millepied. Her extraordinary range extends from Twyla Tharp’s Baker’s Dozen to Giselle’s Myrtha.
Her other repertoire with ABT included The Bright Stream, Le Corsaire, Raymonda, Ballo della Regina, Birthday Offering, Company B, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, In The Upper Room, Overgrown Path, Petite Mort, Sinfonietta, and Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison.Messmer joined San Francisco Ballet in 2013 performing principal roles in Balanchine’s Agon and Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, and Ratmansky’s From Foreign Lands and Chamber Symphony. Other major roles included “The Man I Love” in Balanchine’s Who Cares?, The Firebird in Passokov’s The Firebird, and appearances in works by Mark Morris and Liam Scarlett. Messmer joined Miami City Ballet as a Principal Dancer in 2015.
NHB is thrilled to announce that Stephen Hanna will perform as the Cavalier in our 2016 Nutcracker. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he trained under Roberto Munoz. He entered the School of American Ballet (SAB) where he then trained with his teachers Stanley Williams, Andre Kramervsky, and Richard Rapp. At SAB Mr. Hanna was awarded the Mae L. Wein Award for outstanding promise. Mr. Hanna became an apprentice with New York City Ballet in 1997, and later that year he joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet. Mr. Hanna was promoted to the rank of soloist in February 2004, and in January 2005, he was promoted to principal dancer. He has performed Principal roles in Ballets by Peter Martins, George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Richard Tanner, and Albert Evans.
Artistic Director, Lisa Sanborn, is delighted to announce that the Anna Fitch Ardenghi Trust awarded a grant in the amount of $2,500 to New Haven Ballet. This grant was made to support the DanceAIR program. NHB is proud to provide professional classical ballet training to 2nd grade students in underserved New Haven Public Schools and award scholarships to students who participate in the program. For more information about DanceAIR please contact Children’s Division Director, Christopher DeNofrio, at DeNofrio@newhavenballet.org.
NHB is pleased to announce that Jenna Lavin (Crabtree) will offer master classes to NHB Level 5-8 students on September 26, 2016. Ms. Lavin is originally from Queens, New York. She began her ballet training with Mme. Gabriela Darvash and Jody Fugate. She later graduated from the School of American Ballet where she studied with such teachers as Alexandria Danilova, Antonia Tumkovsky and Stanley Williams. Ms. Lavin began her professional career at 17 when she was invited to join the Chicago City Ballet, under the direction of Maria Tallchief. Ms. Lavin also danced with the Atlanta Ballet directed by Robert Barnett, for seven years. Her principal and soloist roles with the Atlanta Ballet include: Balanchine’s Prodigal Son, The Four Temperaments, Serenade, Tarantella Pas de Deux, Minkus Pas a Trois as well as Le Corsaire Pas de Deux, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. Ms. Lavin was a principal dancer with the Nashville Ballet where she danced Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the title role in Giselle, and principal roles in the company’s contemporary repertoire. Other professional affiliations include the Los Angelos Ballet, under the direction of John Clifford. Ms. Lavin spent eight summers as a member of the Chautauqua Ballet Company, under the direction of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux where she performed principal roles in ballets by Balanchine, Bonnefoux and Clifford. she is a former soloist with Edward Villella’s Miami City Ballet where she danced principal roles in many ballets including Divertimento #15, Jewels, Pas de Dix, Raymonda Variations, Valse Fantasies, Western Symphony, Glinka Pas a Trois, The Nutcracker and Who Cares? Ms. Lavin has worked with numerous choreographers, creating principal roles in ballets by Alonzo King, Lisa de Ribere and Stanton Welch to name a few. In the summer of 2003, Ms. Lavin performed in Casablanca, a collaboration between Warner Bros. and John Clifford’s Los Angelos Dance Theater.
Ms. Lavin has been teaching ballet to young dancers throughout her career beginning in Chicago when she was 17. She has taught master classes in Atlanta, Michigan, and for the Nashville Ballet School. Ms. Lavin has been on faculty at Ballet Academy East since 2003 where she teaches and choreographs for the Pre-Professional Program. She is married to Cornel Crabtree. They are the proud parents of Sky, 7, Grayson, 3, and Cooper, born April, 2012.
New Haven Ballet will hold an Open House on Saturday, September 10, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Meet Artistic Director, Lisa Sanborn, Children’s Division Director, Christopher DeNofrio, and the professional NHB faculty.
The Branford studio is NHB’s home on the Shoreline. Located at 9 Business Park Drive, right off exit 56 of I-95, the Branford location features two large dance studios with sprung wood floors, marley surfaces for pointe work, natural light, and ample parking. Artistic Director Lisa Sanborn notes enthusiastically that the state-of-the-art studio enables NHB to better serve both New Haven and Shoreline students. She invites all interested members of the public to stop by to tour the spacious studios and learn more about NHB’s programs. Registration for fall classes is now open. For more information, please call the NHB office at 203-782-9038.
NHB is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community based classical ballet school providing ballet instruction to students aged 3 years – adult. In 2015, NHB’s Company was voted “Best Dance Company” and “Best Arts Organization” by New Haven’s CTNow Readers Poll. NHB presents its annual production of The Nutcracker at the Shubert Theater, which exclusively features NHB students. NHB’s Company performs throughout the region at local festivals and schools. NHB offers both needs based and merit scholarships and its outreach programs include, “DanceAIR,” affording classical ballet training and scholarships to underserved students, and “Shared Ability,” which provides dance training and performance opportunities to differently abled students. NHB is thrilled to offer its professional classical ballet programming to Branford and acknowledges the generosity of its devoted patrons and corporate as well as foundational support, including Carolyn Foundation, City of New Haven Arts, Culture & Tourism, Department of Economic and Community Development, Ethel & Abe Lapides Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, NewAlliance Foundation, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, and Withers Bergman LLP. Photo: Thomas Giroir Photography © 2016.
Artistic Director, Lisa Sanborn, is pleased to announce Christopher DeNofrio, a distinguished teacher and dancer, has been appointed Children’s Division Director of New Haven Ballet.
Mr. DeNofrio holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance from the Boston Conservatory of Music. A native New Englander, Mr. DeNofrio began his training on Cape Cod with Klara Koenig and studied with Edward Villella before continuing his training in Boston. In 1993, Mr. DeNofrio was given an apprenticeship with George Verdak’s Indianapolis Ballet Theatre where he had the opportunity to work with former Kirov stars, Irina Kolpakova and Vladien Seminov. He also performed the principal role in David Hochoy’s the “Farewell” at IBT’s 20th Anniversary Gala.
Mr. DeNofrio returned to the Northeast and danced with the Albany Berkshire Ballet. His roles included Benvolio in Francis Patrelle’s “Romeo and Juliet” and the Cavalier in Madelline Cantarello Culpo’s “The Nutcracker”. He joined Jose Mateo’s Ballet Theatre in 1994 and danced original works by Jose Mateo while touring New England. He danced featured roles in Jose Mateo’s “Isle of the Dead” and “Schubert Adagio” at the Lincoln Center “Out of Doors” festival.
While in Boston, Mr. DeNofrio performed the principal role in George Balanchine’s “Valse Fantasie” and the “Balcony Pas de Deux” from Romeo and Juliet under the direction of James Reardon with Boston Dance Company. In 1997, Mr. DeNofrio danced in Boston Ballet’s “Le Corsaire”, “Swan Lake” and Michael Corder’s “Cinderella”. In 1998, he joined the Louisville Ballet as a soloist. He performed original works by Alun Jones, Dale Brannon, Paul Taylor and David Parsons.
Mr. DeNofrio was appointed Associate Director of Louisville Ballet School in 1999 and became a member of SERBA, the Southeast Regional Ballet Association. In 2002, Mr. DeNofrio moved to Vancouver, Canada where he joined the British Columbia chapter of the Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists, The Vancouver International Dance Festival and Kokoro Dance. He is certified in Primary through Level 3 of the ABT National Training Curriculum. Mr. DeNofrio joined New Haven Ballet in 2014 and is excited to begin working with families and students in his new position teaching in both New Haven and Branford, where he will be focusing much of his attention.