Menlowe Ballet

Post image for Menlowe Ballet’s spring season includes new ballet in tribute to Florence Nightingale

Menlowe Ballet’s 2018 spring season — Illume — is fitting, in particular, because one of the three ballets is based on the life of Florence Nightingale. A tribute to the visionary who revolutionized the nursing profession, The Lady with the Lamp is choreographed by Menlowe Artistic Director Michael Lowe and Associate Artistic Director Sarah-Jane Measor.

“The world premiere of The Lady with the Lamp continues Menlowe’s commitment to honoring the spirit and accomplishments of women from history who have touched the world with courage and creativity,” said Lisa Shiveley, the company’s Executive Director. “The performance comes at the end of National Hospital Week, and we’re encouraging doctors, nurses and other medical staff to attend together.” [Note: Group discounts are available; contact Lisa[at]menloweballet.org.]

Talking with Michael and Sarah-Jane, we learned the idea of choreographing a ballet about Florence Nightingale was first introduced when thinking about women who should be included in Portraits, part of the company’s first anniversary show two years ago.

“But we didn’t want it to be truncated,” said Michael, “so decided to do more research on Florence. The resulting ballet has more substance and runs about 22 minutes, which is a good running time for us.”

The Lady with the Lamp  begins not in Florence Nightingale’s time but in the ’60s when a girl finds her lava lamp transforming into a Turkish lamp like the one Nightingale used. The next section of the ballet portrays her during the Crimean War, and it finishes with a younger Florence and her sister. So, there are actually three dancers portraying Florence.

“The 60s section has music by Buffy St. Marie (Where Have All the Flowers Gone) and Donovan (Universal Soldier),” said Michael, who remembered them as anti-war songs he heard growing up in the Bay Area.

Sarah-Jane grew up in England and feels a connection to her fellow countrywoman. “Florence came from a upper-class family and she simply could have married and lived her life in quiet and comfort,” she said. “Her health was not good following the war, but she continued writing on a variety of subjects and spreading medical knowledge.”

ILLUME will be performed May 11-13 at the Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center (555 Middlefield Road). In addition to The Lady with the Lamp, the program features Donald McKayle’s Crossing the Rubicon: Passing the Point of No Return and Dennis Nahat’s Pas de Cinq from Swan Lake. Performances take place Friday, May 11 at 8:00 pm; Saturday, May 12 at 2:00 & 8:00 pm; and Sunday, May 13 at 2:00 pm. Tickets, ranging from $28-$55, are available online or by calling 800-595-4TIX (4849).

“That’s Mother’s Day weekend,” pointed out Lisa, the mother herself of a ballerina. “Plus, Florence Nightingales birthday is the 12th. Here’s a local opportunity to do something cultural to celebrate mothers, the ultimate healers and comforters.”

Photo by Irene Searles (c) 2018. Pictured (left to right) are two of the Florences, Julie Giordano and Chantelle Planetta, along with Sarah-Jane Measor and Michael Lowe, sporting an Iron Maiden t-shirt because the band wrote a song based on Lord Tennyson’s poem The Charge of Light Brigade, which was about Battle of Balaclavaut during the Crimean War.

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Seven dancers in this year’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker” involved since inaugural year

Thumbnail image for Seven dancers in this year’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker” involved since inaugural year

Seven dancers in this year’s production of Menlowe Ballet’s It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker have been involved since the inaugural year in 2015. The Menlo Park Academy of Dance students, all who attend local high schools, will be alongside professional dancers in the Waltz of the Flowers and the Snow scenes. “Training at this level demands 20 […]

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Menlowe Ballet company dancers make choreographic debut in spring season, Floraision

Thumbnail image for Menlowe Ballet company dancers make choreographic debut in spring season, Floraision

Menlowe Ballet company dancers Stefanie Maughan (pictured, left) and Ali McKeon are making their professional choreographic debut, collaborating on a new contemporary work in the company’s spring season, Floraison, which will debut at the end of April. “Both Stefanie and Ali have rich, creative voices and fabulous contemporary backgrounds,” says Menlowe Ballet’s Artistic Director Michael Lowe. […]

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“It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker” is Menlowe Ballet’s holiday offering

Thumbnail image for “It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker” is Menlowe Ballet’s holiday offering

It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker will be presented by Menlowe Ballet this year on two December weekends at the Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center (555 Middlefield Road). Inspired by Frank Capra’s classic film, the production takes place in the 1940s and boasts all the magical trimmings of a traditional Nutcracker blended with unexpected twists and a heartwarming message […]

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Dancer Sarah-Jane Measor makes her professional choreographic debut with Menlowe Ballet

Thumbnail image for Dancer Sarah-Jane Measor makes her professional choreographic debut with Menlowe Ballet

Dancer Sarah-Jane Measor wears two hats in Menlo Park. She’s director of the Menlo Park Academy of Dance and Associate Artistic Director of the Menlowe Ballet. Now, she’s donning a second hat in the world of dance as well, making her professional choreographic debut with Portraits, part of Menlowe’s fall production, Tribute!, which runs November 3, 5 and 6, […]

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Amy Marie Briones joins Menlowe Ballet and will appear in three ballets this Spring

Thumbnail image for Amy Marie Briones joins Menlowe Ballet and will appear in three ballets this Spring

Amy Marie Briones, who recently joined Menlowe Ballet, has been practicing her craft since she was four years old. Her professional career began when she joined the Silicon Valley Ballet in 2006. She’s danced her childhood dream role, Kitri in Don Quixote, as well as leading roles in Jorma Elo’s Glow-Stop, Sir Frederick Ashton’s Les Rendezvous and Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante. […]

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Menlowe Ballet’s holiday offering is “It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker”

Thumbnail image for Menlowe Ballet’s holiday offering is “It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker”

Menlowe Ballet unveils the world premiere of Michael Lowe’s It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker December 12-20, 2015, at Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center, 555 Middlefield Road in Atherton. Inspired by Frank Capra’s classic film, It’s a Wonderful Life, Menlowe’s It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker is set in the 1940s and boasts all the magical trimmings of a traditional Nutcracker enhanced […]

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Menlowe Ballet’s spring production features premiere of Bru’s Sweet by Reginald Ray-Savage

Thumbnail image for Menlowe Ballet’s spring production features premiere of Bru’s Sweet by Reginald Ray-Savage

Menlowe Ballet presents RAPTURE March 27-29 at Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center. The program features the world premiere of Bru’s Sweet, choreographed by Reginald Ray-Savage (pictured during rehearsal) to the music of Dave Brubeck. Another premiere, Playing Love, choreographed by Menlowe Ballet’s Artistic Director, Michael Lowe (far right in photo), and the return of Lowe’s acclaimed Legend […]

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Menlowe Ballet’s fall season highlighted by new Michael Lowe cultural ballet premieres Nov. 8

Thumbnail image for Menlowe Ballet’s fall season highlighted by new Michael Lowe cultural ballet premieres Nov. 8

Menlowe Ballet’s fall season at the Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center features contemporary, classical and cultural ballets including the world premiere of Artistic Director Michael Lowe’s Legend of the Seven Suns, which brings to life a traditional Mongolian folktale. Also included are Dennis Nahat’s In Concert and Lowe’s Plague. Performances are Saturday, Nov. 8 at 2:00 and 8:00 […]

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Menlowe Ballet launches spring season April 4-6 and extends community involvement

Thumbnail image for Menlowe Ballet launches spring season April 4-6 and extends community involvement

Menlowe Ballet returns to the stage with Transcendence April 4-6 at the Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center (555 Middlefield Road, Atherton). Featuring works by Artistic Director Michael Lowe and guest choreographer Dennis Nahat the program includes Lowe’s Tribute, Nahat’s Pas de Cinq and the premiere of Lowe’s Transcendence, a Chinese cultural contemporary work. In response to its […]

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Menlowe Ballet’s presents Lineage for its fall season Nov. 15-17

Menlowe Ballet presents Lineage, Artistic Director Michael Lowe’s homage to the rich historical legacy he received during his 30-plus years as a principal dancer and choreographer with Oakland Ballet Company under the leadership of Founding Artistic Director, Ronn Guidi. The program features Lowe’s Tribute and Serie, and Guidi’s Trois Gymnopédies and Romeo and Juliet Pas […]

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