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Axelrod PAC launches summer Performing Arts Academy online

Michelle Fleet, from Paul Taylor Dance Company.

New Jersey’s Axelrod Performing Arts Center (APAC) announces the launch of the Axelrod Performing Arts Academy (APAA) beginning Monday, June 29.

Curated by Juilliard alumnus Gabriel Chajnik, director of the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater (AXCBT), the program is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, online summer experience offering instruction in dance, musical theater, dramatic arts, vocal training and music. There are curriculums for students of all ages from preschool, primary, high school, through adults.  

“The current pandemic has forced the performing arts world to adopt an online format that provide unexpected advantages,” says APAC Artistic Director Andrew DePrisco. “It would be nearly impossible for us to assemble this calibre of world-class artists — from Broadway, the New York ballet world, television and film — in one place to teach for a summer program. Online, however, these artists and our students can ‘rise up’ and expand their learning, advance their skills and discover beauty and balance where frustration and loneliness formerly existed.”

“The academy I envision,” says Elise Feldman, president of AXCBT, “has come to life in the summer of 2020 as a ‘silver lining’ to the COVID pandemic. The celebrity and guest artists who’ve agreed to lend their expertise will thrill our virtual students.”

APAA offers students access to a “who’s who” of guest artists in all disciplines, with more celebrities joining the roster daily. Among those committed to teach are: 

Susan Egan. Photo by Michael Hull.
Susan Egan. Photo by Michael Hull.

Musical Theater: Tony Award winners Faith Prince (Guys and Dolls), Joanna Gleason (Into the Woods) and Debbie Gravitte (Jerome Robbins’ Broadway); and Tony Award nominees Susan Egan (Beauty and the Beast), Bryce Pinkham (Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murcher)a and Jeff Blumenkrantz (Urban Cowboy). A number of New Jersey artists will also be participating, including rock-and-soul singer Remember Jones, Jared Gertner (Olivier nominee, The Book of Mormon), Jenny Hill (Broadway’s Seussical and Spamalot), Bistro Award-winning jazz artist Gabrielle Stravelli, and Juilliard alumnus David Smolokoff.

Dance: Michael Trusnovec and Michelle Fleet, former principals from Paul Taylor Dance Company; Dylan Pearce, choreographer for Radio City Music Hall; Blakeley White-McGuire of Martha Graham Company; and Samuel Lee Roberts from Alvin Ailey.

Acting: Bill Timoney (Broadway’s Network and Amazon’s Hunters), international director/performer Michael La Fleur (Disney and Universal), CUNY playwright/performer director Ashley Marinaccio and Frank Dicopoulos (22-year veteran of CBS’s The Guiding Light).

Chajnik shares, “When I was a young performer, the lion’s share of my education came from the simple experience of being on stage. This ‘new normal’ landscape, created by the pandemic, has turned the world of performance upside-down. Yet, at the same time, it inspires educators and performers to discover or create inventive outlets using new technological platforms that ensure our students will continue to grow and learn.”

Since early April, the AXCBT has offered a wide range of professional dance and dramatic workshops for students from all over the country, receiving overwhelming praise from both students and their families.

The new summer online academy continues this initiative, adding new courses and instructors, concluding with a virtual showcase. 

“My intention in creating and streaming the ‘RISE UP’ Virtual Showcase,” says Chajnik, “is for students to share their talents with the world, and for the home audience to experience a heartfelt and uplifting experience.”

Registration for the Axelrod Performing Arts Academy begins online on June 29. The fee for the preschool program is $180; the primary program fee is $900 (both six weeks), and the core track for those aged 12+ is $1200 (seven weeks). Interested individuals can learn about the APAA’s workshops, instructors, pricing and scholarship opportunities via the theater’s website, www.AxelrodArtsCenter.com.

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