International Ballet Exchange marks its 20 years

As International Ballet Exchange marks its 20 years, professional dancers who got their start with the organization are performing to celebrate the occasion. The show, April 22, 2018 at Painted Bride Art Center, will feature IBE alums Jessica Hershberg Fontana, who played the lead in Cinderella on Broadway; Cynthia Dragoni, formerly of the Donetsk Ballet of Ukraine and contemporary ballet company Sensedance; dancer and choreographer Lillian Joergenson (with Ashley Yehoda); Molly Rooney of First State Ballet Company; Hannah Kearney of Philadanco 2; Michele-Olivia and Coralie François of Danse4Nia; and Jamie Laughlin of Ajala Essence Dance.

Founded in 1998 with a mission to make ballet accessible, IBE has annually presented The Nutcracker with the world-class Donetsk Ballet, supported by a cast of local youth, for the School District and the Greater Philadelphia community.

As young students at IBE’s home studio, Wissahickon Dance Academy, these artists performed in the Donetsk’s Nutcracker as well as the ballets IBE stages for the School District, such as Alice in Wonderland, La Fill Mal Gardée, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and IBE’s original opera-based ballets Carmen and Porgy and Bess.

The event will also honor current and former teachers in IBE’s unique program for the Philadelphia public schools: IBE provides a 30-week ballet course in up to three Philadelphia public schools; at the close of the course, the students perform, along with guest artists and students from Wissahickon Dance Academy, in a fully staged story ballet. IBE invites schools from across the city to the free performances.

On April 22, the eclectic mix of dance (and song, from Ms. Fontana) will also feature current students of Wissahickon Dance Academy, along with guest artist and former Pennsylvania Ballet dancer Yosbel Delgado-Hernandez, in the ballet Paquita.

International Ballet Exchange
April 22, 2018
3:00 p.m., reception follows
Painted Bride Art Center
230 Vine Street, Philadelphia PA 19106.
Tickets: $20 at; 215-849-7950; or at the door

Photo by Julieanne Harris