Welcome Back Jerri Kumery – Expert Balanchine Repetiteur

  Balanchine expert joins CBT this coming week.

 “Only from the heart Can you touch the sky.” 


Jerri Kumery, Ballet Master from Richmond Ballet, joins Charleston Ballet Theatre  next week to coach “Rubies” and “Serenade” for the upcoming Masterpieces of Dance program in February.  The one night only performances showcases two legendary works of George Balanchine  and the revival of Bruce Mark’s “A Lark Ascending”  . 

 Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, George Balanchine (1904–1983) is regarded as the 20th century’s foremost choreographer in the world of ballet.  A radiant work that continues to thrill audiences since its premiere by New York City Ballet in 1967, it is set to Igor Stravinsky’s brash, jazzy percussive score, Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra.  “Rubies” bursts with the same impetuous energy and syncopation that captured Balanchine’s imagination when he first arrived in the US. Its speed, athleticism and brilliance are thoroughly captivating and will be a major feather to the Charleston Ballet Theatre artistic cap. Here is a description of Rubies from the New Yorker, The American premiere of the Kirov’s “Jewels” is hard for the company. Since it is by Balanchine, the dancers have to produce a lot more speed and musicality than they are accustomed to.. “Rubies” is about something that came later: Balanchine’s discovery of America, and his alliance with Stravinsky, the composer of the score, in the United States. At its premiere, it starred two of Balanchine’s most “American” dancers, the radiantly normal Patricia McBride and the Actors studio-esque Edward Villella. At times, “Rubies” looks like “West Side Story,” only better. 

Of the ballet Balanchine wrote, “Serenade was my first ballet in the United States. Soon after my arrival in America, Lincoln Kirstein, Edward M. M. Warburg, and I opened the School of American Ballet in New York. As part of the school curriculum, I started an evening ballet class in stage technique, to give the students some idea of how dancing on stage differs from classwork. Serenade evolved from the lessons I gave.”It seemed to me that the best way to make students aware of stage technique was to give them something new to dance, something they had never seen before. I chose Tchaikovsky’s Serenade to work with. The class contained the first night, seventeen girls and no boys. The problem was, how to arrange this odd number of girls so that they would look interesting. I placed them on diagonal lines and decided that the hands should move first to give the girls practice.”That was how Serenade began. The next class contained only nine girls; the third six. I choreographed to the music with the pupils I happened to have at a particular time. Boys began to attend the class and they were worked into the pattern. One day, when all the girls rushed off the floor area we were using as a stage, one of the girls fell and began to cry. I told the pianist to keep on playing and kept this bit in the dance. Another day, one of the girls was late for class, so I left that in too. “Later, when we staged Serenade, everything was revised. The girls who couldn’t dance well were left out of the more difficult parts; I elaborated on the small accidental bits I had included in class and made the whole more dramatic, more theatrical, synchronizing it to the music with additional movement, but always using little things that ordinarily might be overlooked. I’ve gone into a little detail here about Serenade because many people think there is a concealed story in the ballet. There is not. There are, simply, dancers in motion to a beautiful piece of music. The only story, a serenade, a dance, if you like, in the light of the moon.”

 Jerri Kumery studied at the School of American Ballet and danced with the New York City Ballet. She served as repetiteur for Ballet Teatro Lirico Nacional and Pacific Northwest Ballet, as well as repetiteur and Associate Artistic Director of North Carolina Dance Theatre. Ms. Kumery was awarded an Arts & Science Council Fellowship for her meritorious contribution to the artistic community of Charlotte, NC. She is the curator of the Salvatore Aiello ballets and serves as repetiteur with the George Balanchine Trust.

Jerri is a very giving coach and believes positive reinforcement is any consequence that follows a behavior and increases frequency As a repetiteur with the George Balanchine Trust she must create social reinforcement by doing or saying something to another person.  Living in the strong believes of the poet Rumi – her base for her work is a joy to behold.   Speaking of  The Wisdom of Rumi  His poetry speaks the universal language of love, faith, and tolerance, and he has been hailed by numerous literary authorities as one of the greatest poets of all time. Jalal ad-din Muhammad Rumi’s words have rung out for more than 800 years, resonating with readers around the world and transcending all religions with his common themes of unity dedication hard work and positive reinforcement .

Known  for her uncanny ability to   offer honest praise or a positive gesture  that has special meaning only to that person. In the art form when money is always short – i.e  Tangible reinforcement should always back up social reinforcement, but  not a substitute for it. Both types of reinforcement are highly personal. What appeals to one person may not interest another. You can find out what each person really wants by trying something that might work. People like to be appreciated, so choose anything, including praise that shows you value their efforts.

Jerri is our welcome expert and guest!  Welcome Back !



2 thoughts on “Welcome Back Jerri Kumery – Expert Balanchine Repetiteur

  1. Jerri was my ballet mistress with North Carolina Dance Theatre for 8 seasons. She was always dedicated, inspiring and had the gift of bringing out the best in all the dancers. She is tireless in her efforts and always empathetic in her approach.
    I owe the start of my wonderful career to her. She deserves all the accolades bestowed upon her!

  2. George A. Santulli

    Please deliver to Jerri Kumery!!

    I am a TV producer with the US Department of State here in Washington, DC and am working with three TV journalists from Tbilisi, Georgia who are coming to the US, as guests of the State Department. They are coming to produce stories about George Balanchine and wonder if there is any chance you will be in the New York City area during the time we are there, April 4-7?? If so, would you be interested in being interviewed so we can add you to our program?

    If not, are there any others who you may suggest? I am also working with the GB Foundation in NYC who is being very helpful too.


    George A. Santulli
    US Department of State/Washington, DC


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