In honor of a teacher: New York City Ballet members to perform at Draper's Moonlight Dance

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 6 2015 10:47 a.m. MDT

Megan Fairchild, a native of Utah, and Andrew Veyette perform in George Balanchine's Megan Fairchild, a native of Utah, and Andrew Veyette perform in George Balanchine's "Danses Concertantes," which has been called "amazingly inventive," for the New York City Ballet. (Paul Kolnik, New York City Ballet)

DRAPER — Audiences of Draper Amphitheater’s “Moonlight Dance” on June 25 will have the rare treat of performances by four principal dancers from the widely celebrated New York City Ballet in the dance concert’s mixed bill of dance forms.

Utah natives Robert Fairchild and his sister Megan Fairchild will join Andrew Veyette, Megan’s husband, and Tiler Peck, Robert’s frequent dance partner, to present dances from genius choreographer George Balanchine, who founded the world-renowned New York City Ballet.

But what makes this event more rare than a blue moon occurring on a Sunday are the contributions being made as a tribute to Kaelynne Oliphant, the teacher — and friend — who gave the Fairchilds their early dance training in Utah, before their rise to fame in New York City.

“There is no one more caring than Kaelynne,” said Megan Fairchild. “Her heart is huge!”

Utah native Robert Fairchild dances Utah native Robert Fairchild dances "Opus 19/The Dreamer," a tumultuous solo choreographed by balletmaster Jerome Robbins, for the New York City Ballet. (Paul Kolnik, New York City Ballet)

Along with dancing in honor of Oliphant, the four principals are foregoing all standard performance fees to which a principal dancer would be entitled at a similar concert.

And the George Balanchine trust, which is highly protective of Balanchine-choreographed works, has not only authorized this novel performance outside of an established dance company, but has agreed to “issue a royalty-free agreement in honor of Megan and Robbie’s longtime teacher.”

Balletomanes along with casual ballet observers will appreciate the significance of this performance. It is all due to the exceptional influence one teacher can have on students.

“Kaelynne has always been such a special person in my life,” Fairchild says. “Since I left New York, Kaelynne has constantly checked up on Robbie and I, and knows what we will be dancing and even sends us texts or emails before special shows I might think she has no idea we are about to perform. I know if she lived closer, she would probably be here once a week supporting and cheering for us in the audience.”

Andrew Veyette and Megan Fairchild, a native of Utah, perform in George Balanchine's ebullient Andrew Veyette and Megan Fairchild, a native of Utah, perform in George Balanchine's ebullient "Allegro Brillante" for the New York City Ballet. (Paul Kolnik, New York City Ballet)

“It was a real honor for me to teach Megan and Robbie,” Oliphant says. The word ‘child prodigy' is bounced around a lot, and you don’t really believe it until you see it. I knew when they were 5 years old that they would enjoy great success as dancers, and it was a very overwhelming experience.”

The inspirational teacher has followed their careers and had a significant impact on the dancers personally as well.

“The world of ballet is very competitive, and I always wanted them to know that there was someone in the background cheering them on,” Oliphant says.

This will be the Fairchilds’ first-ever performance in the state since relocating to New York, and they are “so excited to have an opportunity to come back to Utah and perform for friends and family,” says Fairchild, whose parents continue to reside in the Fairchild family home in Sandy.

“A lot of people in our company come from the East Coast, so they are able to share what they are doing at the New York City Ballet with a lot of important people in their lives. We have a lot of important friends and family in Utah, and we can't wait to share what we do with them!”

Fairchild remembers one incident that continues to amuse her: “Kaelynne told my mother one time, after teaching my brother's ballet class, that he is the reason she will never have kids! But now she has a beautiful family of three daughters, so I guess it didn't really stick.”

The Balanchine-choreographed dances scheduled are “Danses Concertantes,” to be performed by Megan Fairchild and Veyette, and the pas de deux from “Apollo,” by Robert Fairchild and Peck.

“Hands down, my favorite ballet is ‘Swan Lake,’” Oliphant explains. “And I am so thrilled that they will be including both the ‘White Swan’ pas de deux and ‘Black Swan’ pas de deux in the performance.”

When Oliphant first suggested that Megan Fairchild learn the “Swan Lake” choreography by Peter Martins, the New York City Ballet’s current master in chief, while Fairchild was her student, “Megan said, ‘I can’t do that,’” Oliphant recalls. “But I said, ‘Yes, you can.’”

Accompanying the “Moonlight Dance” performances by the New York City Ballet dancers will be hip-hop, contemporary, jazz and modern dances presented by two local studios — the South Jordan-based Utah Dance Artists, where Oliphant teaches, and American Expression of Dance in Draper — and by Chase Wise of the Odyssey Dance Theatre. Choreographers of the dances include finalists of “So You Think You Can Dance,” Stacey Tookey, Gevorg Manoukian and Matt Dorame, and Kate Jablonski, a choreographer for the TV competition and a Utah Dance Artists guest faculty member.

If you go

What: “Moonlight Dance”

Where: Draper Amphitheater

When: June 25 at 8 p.m.

How much: $17-$8; with family seating on grass area, $33-$31

Tickets: draper.ut.us


Meet the ‘Moonlight Dance’ New York City Ballet dancers

Megan Fairchild began her dance training at age of 4, studying at Utah’s Dance Concepts and at the Ballet West Conservatory, later becoming a Ballet West trainee. Fairchild joined New York City Ballet in 2001 and became a principal in 2005. “Onstage, she’s just like this little thing that lights up,” Savannah Lowery, a New York City Ballet soloist, told the New York Times. “Nothing is ever done wrong or incorrectly. She’s just this prim, proper, perfect thing.” In the same article, Fairchild discussed her marriage to Andrew Veyette. “This sounds super cheesy,” she said, “but from the moment we started dating, we never spent time apart, and we’ve always known eventually one day we’d get married.”

Robert Fairchild also began his training at Dance Concepts, at age 4, and the Ballet West Conservatory, at age 10. Joining New York City Ballet in 2005, he was promoted to principal four years later. While still an apprentice, he originated the lead role in Peter Martins’ “Romeo + Juliet.” As Romeo, the New York Times wrote, “Fairchild begins with not just his head in the clouds but also his whole body, dreamily banking into pirouettes. Later his ardor for Juliet focuses his exuberance, converting him into a virile force.” Another Times article called him “the most charismatic actor the company has, with his dreamy lyricism” after his performance in choreographer Jerome Robbins’ “Fancy Free.”

Tiler Peck, born in Bakersfield, Calif., began her dance training at 7. After studying at the School of American Ballet, she joined New York City Ballet in 2005 and was promoted to principal in 2009. She also played Gracie Shinn, the mayor’s daughter, in Susan Stroman’s 2001 Broadway revival of “The Music Man.” Peter Martins selected her to premiere his “The Sleeping Beauty” in the lead role of Aurora. “Watching Peck move can be a sublime experience. She makes everything look unhurried and natural without losing her brio, speed and excitement,” according to Dance Magazine. “She dances with a free and sharing heart that draws the audience to her like a magnet.”

Andrew Veyette, born in Denver, began his dance training at age of 9, entering the School of American Ballet in the fall of 1998, joining the New York City Ballet in 2000 and was promoted to principal in 2007. He originated featured roles in Peter Martins’ “The Red Violin.” Veyette “is riveting. He has a command onstage; he’s a daring partner and a daring presence," wrote a Dance Magazine reviewer. He is a cool, slightly dangerous character as Riff in ‘West Side Story Suite’ and in the recent film, ‘N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz,’” the Jerome Robbins ballet broadcast on PBS.

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