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WELCOME TO "COURAGE"
THE JANE AUSTEN HEROINES 
PAGE.

A Dance Film

Courage is a short dance film about the Jane Austen Heroines made through the medium of classical ballet. A diverse ensemble of world-renowned ballerinas will perform original choreography to Jane Austen’s personal music score collection.

In this film, we will see Jane Austen creating and dancing with each of the most memorable heroines of her novels: Emma, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park.

 
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CHOREOGRAPHER'S VISION

A 14 year Journey.

The first time I read Pride and Prejudice, I was taken by the color, elegance, and wittiness of  its characters and plot lines. I have been forever captivated by the way the novel is written.

It also made me think about the difficulties women living in those times had to endure. What about female artists? How did she manage to write so prolifically about such complex characters? The answers to these questions became apparent as I learned more about her.


Around that time, I had  just finished The Raven ballet, based on an Edgar Allan Poe poem. As I read Pride and Prejudice, I realized it could also be a ballet. So I broke down the scenes and characters. I was in shock discovering the complexity of the novel. My first inspiration came as a pas de deux between Elizabeth and  Mr. Darcy.


For 14 years since I had that idea, I went on to read each of Jane’s novels. At the same time, while I was traveling to London to visit my kids, I had the opportunity to visit the Cobb in Dorsey, the famous location of Persuasion.

I visited Montacute House where Sense and Sensibility was filmed. I also went to visit Jane’s house at Chawton. Little by little, I became more knowledgeable about her work, and her life. I watched the movies again and again. Every time I enter a book store I head straight to Jane  Austen’s novels to see if there are any new or unique editions of her work.  


Each book store tends to have Jane’s novels organized in different orders. Every time I see them I wonder how Jane would feel if she saw this. Her collections of books are published in many different editions, with beautiful covers, and eloquent forewords. Expressing how her heroines have inspired so many readers and moviegoers all over the world. I’d like to think she would respond in a way that would reflect her character and views of life that would make us love her even more.


As a choreographer and director I wondered, what about if I choreograph something about Emma, or Anne Elliot? Or what about choreographing something for Jane. She loved to dance. What about if I asked Jane Austen if I can use her favorite music to create a ballet about her heroines? And that’s when the wheels started turning.

 
 

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

I have been a ballet teacher for over 25 years and I’ve always thought it was very important to help our students to be inspired. I always reacted well to biographies that tell the life of a great person, who overcame hardship, and that never stopped to achieve their dreams.


By showing Jane at home writing and interacting with her characters, showing her passion for her craft. The dance film's message is exactly that; it doesn't matter the year, the gender, the race, or the age, we have to believe in ourselves that we have the power to keep fighting for our dreams. At any time anywhere.


When I learned that Jane Austen self-published her books, she inspired me not to wait to be discovered, but to be smart and find my own way to get my choreography created and shared. That is one of the reasons why I love to choreograph.


With this ballet dance film, I want to celebrate the work of Jane Austen, hoping to inspire others the same way she has inspired me. Because being inspired is a very important gift in life.


To my surprise I found out that no one has ever done a ballet or a movie about this!

 

THE APPROACH

My view of this project is to show Jane Austen at home, with her portable desk writing at home. As she writes, the character will appear. The character proceeds to dance and show her persona to us, Jane at some moment will notice the character in front of her! She can’t believe that this is happening.


After a small curtsey to each other, the dance sets off. A duet starts and they alternate the lead. We see a little drama when Jane has to scold Emma for her behavior. Emma apologizes, and they continue to dance. At the end Jane gives Emma a small Shakespeare book as a gift. End of scene.


Each of the characters will have a unique kind of sound, string quartets, cantata, piano, and a full orchestra.


The Finale

Will be an ensemble with all the characters dancing together with Jane.

 
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DANCE VOCABULARY

 

I will be using classical ballet vocabulary. This is a medium that I’ve been familiar with for over 35 years. I have chosen this style because the time period, characters, and the music would blend beautifully with the language of ballet.

 

JANE AUSTEN MUSIC SCORE

Personal music scores

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MUSIC

I have chosen Jane’s music collection preserved by her family. As quoted in Open Culture Media...

“The Pride and Prejudice author, who also played piano and sang, copied music by hand into personal albums and collected sheet music.” Part of the Austen family music library is now digitized by the University of Southampton’s Hartley Library and made available at the Internet Archive. The article quotes project leader and professor of music Jeanice Brooks as saying these 18 albums of music could not just help explain the “musical environment that fed the novelist’s imagination” and led to novels “full of musical scenes,” but provide a “unique glimpse of the musical life of an extended gentry family in the years around 1800.”


I have chosen music that I feel fit each of the characters, from Muzio Clementi, Ignaz Joseph Pleyel, Georgiana Cavendish, Niccolo Piccinni, Franz Joseph Hayden, and Sir Roger de Coverly.

 
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COSTUMES

Period Time

 

COSTUMES VISUALS

We will be creating each of the costumes according with each of the characters personalities.

 
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INFLUENCES

Ballets

 

Through the years I been influenced by many ballets. But for this specific ballet I will go with two of my favorites ballets: The Three Sisters, and La dame de Camelias

 

FOUNDING

 

Courage is a unique and original way of bringing literature, music, dance, and film together to celebrate Jane Austen’s characters and creations.


Your contribution will be invaluable to us in the making of this film. To help us pay for dancers’ fees, secure the best suited location for our shoot, recreate the time period through set design and costumes, secure equipment and pay for its transport, and cover fees for post-production.


Our financial goal covers the very minimum we need to make this dance film happen! Any additional funding we would receive would help us get closer to the end product we envision, especially in terms of set design, music fees, and cast.

 
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I am a happy member of The Field. They build new services and technology to connect artists with a robust network of vetted service providers for the full arc of their careers and beyond. Both high-tech and high-touch, this will be the first people-powered platform of its kind.


“From performance marathons to Fellowships for Black and arts workers of color, from fundraising to entrepreneurial regrants, The Field has been a go-to home for thousands of artists to thrive. The Field for a reason – a truly thriving community must include the voices and visions of the full field of artists and makers: from the radical, gorgeous and bizarre to the schmaltzy, swelling, overblown.” 


It's not the first time that I have been helped by The Field, that's why I am making this project

through them again.


All donations are tax deductible through my affiliation with The Field.

 

HOW WILL YOUR CONTRIBUTION BE USED?

 

OUR BUDGET GOAL IS $50,000

With $50,000 in funding, we will be able to pay for all the production elements of this film. Any surplus would go towards making the set even more beautiful and paying the cast more for their time and their work.


We are currently in pre-production, with the principal photography dates being the last weeks of May 2022. The film is set to be completed near the end of September 2022.


We will do a screening in a Manhattan location to be determined on a later date.


Every pound, dollar, or euro you pledge will be invaluable to us to make this film come to life. We pledge to use every bit of help in the most efficient and productive way possible.

 
 

SOCIAL MEDIA EXTRA HAND

We understand money doesn't grow on trees. But there are other ways to help!


You can help by:


Talk about our film to your friends and share it on social media! Follow our Instagram here:

@courage_the_ jane_austen_heroines


Catering: Are you in the food industry? We are looking for caterers who will help make our crew happy! (OF COURSE, WE WILL PAY)


Location: Irondale Theater Brooklyn


Do you own objects or furniture that resembles the1800? We would be very grateful if we could borrow these, and would obviously return them in perfect condition.

If you have any information you can share with us, please don't hesitate to email us: davidfnyc@gmail.com or DM us on our Instagram:

@courage_the_ jane_austen_heroines

We thank you a million times for your help!

 

CAST

For me, the cast is paramount in my choreography. Especially in this project. I expended a great deal of time and attention searching for the cast. None of the dancers auditioned for the parts. Through the years, I have seen them dancing in different roles in their companies and in videos. I have enjoyed their careers and support them the same way they have supported me.

I believe in friendships in this field, and it’s a pleasure to have talented friends helping me to make this project happen. I approached each of the dancers, with a specific role in mind for them and did my pitch to them. I was very happy when they accepted.

 
 
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AS EMMA WOODHOUSE, GRACEANNE PIERC

Graceanne Pierce is currently a New York City based Freelance Artist. She is a former Corps Artist of Ballet West and American Ballet Theatre Studio Company member for two seasons. Her repertoire includes George Balanchine’s Jewels, George Balanchine’s Le Chant du Rossignal, Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, Lauren Lovette’s Le Jeune, Ethan Stiefel’s Overture, August Bournonville’s William Tell Pas de Deux, and Claudia Schreier’s Neon. 

Graceanne was a guest principal artist at the Gala Internazionale at Teatro alla Scala where she performed the pas de deux from George Balanchine’s La Source. 


Graceanne has been a part of iHeartDance NYC’s rooftop performance series. There, she has danced works by Ask la Cour, David Fernandez, and Gary Pierce. She is a graduate of the Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre where she was on a full scholarship from the age of 11 until her graduation. Graceanne is privileged to have been trained by Cynthia Harvey, Ethan Stiefel, Sascha Radetsky, Martine Van Hammel, Fabrice Herrault, Robert LaFosse and Petrusjka Broh

 
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AS ANNE ELLIOT, ISADORA LOYOLA.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Isadora Loyola began her training at the age of eight at the National School of Dance with Maria Olenewa and, at 11, studied with Magda Aunon at Fort Lauderdale Ballet Classique.  At the age of 13, Loyola began training with Liudmila Polonskaya and that same year attended the Harid Conservatory and trained with Victoria Schneider, Olivier Pardina, and Svetlana Osiyeva.  Loyola has been featured in Harid’s productions as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Satanella in Carnival of Venice, and a soloist in The Flower Festival in Genzano.
Loyola was a National Training Scholar for four years at ABT’s Summer Intensive and joined ABT II (now ABT Studio Company) in 2007.  She joined American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in January 2008 and became a member of the corps de ballet in January 2009.  Her repertoire with ABT includes Leto in Apollo, the Aya and Lead D’Jampe in La Bayadère, Lead Pirate Woman in Le Corsaire, Lead Gypsy in Don Quixote, Bathilde in Giselle, the Spanish Dance and one of the Nutcracker’s Sisters in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, Spanish Dance in Swan Lake, roles in Bach Partita, Company B, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes and Raymonda Divertissements. She created the White Cat in Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty and a featured role in New American Romance.

 
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AS MARIANNE DASHWOOD, OLIVIA MACKINNON.

Olivia MacKinnon is a member of New York City Ballet’s corps de ballet. She was born in Mobile, Alabama and began her dance training at the age of three at the Mobile Ballet. At the age of 11, she performed with Mobile Ballet’s Company. 
During the summers of 2008 and 2009, Ms. MacKinnon attended the summer sessions at the School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet, and enrolled as a full-time student in fall of 2010. 
Ms. MacKinnon became an apprentice with NYCB in November 2012 and joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in October 2013.

 
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AS FANNY PRICE OLIVIA BOISSON

Olivia Boisson is a member of New York City Ballet’s corps de ballet. She was born in Queens, New York, and began her dance training at the age of six at The Ballet Arts School of Forest Hills. She later studied at the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 2000 before enrolling as a full time student at the School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet, during the fall of 2004.


In August 2012, Ms. Boisson became an apprentice with NYCB, and the following December, she joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet.


HONORS

Ms. Boisson was the recipient of the 2012 Mae L. Wien Award for Outstanding Promise.

 
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AS ELIZABETH BENNET, PAULINA WASKI

From Westport, Connecticut Joined Boston Ballet in 2019

Paulina Waski was born in Greenwich, Connecticut and began her training at age 7. In 2006, Waski attended American Ballet Theatre’s (ABT) Summer Intensive program and was invited to join the American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. At age 12, Waski placed in the top twelve at the 2008 Youth American Grand Prix, junior division in Philadelphia.


After studying at American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, Waski joined American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice at the age of 16 in 2011. She was promoted to corps de ballet in 2012. Her repertoire with the company includes the role of Moyna in Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot and Marius Petipa’s Giselle, Carnival Dancer in Lar Lubovitch’s Othello, Rosaline in Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, Big Swan and Hungarian Princess in Kevin McKenzie’s Swan Lake, Odalisque in Rudolf Nureyev’s Le Corsaire, and Sapphire Fairy in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty.  


Waski has been awarded the Laura and James Rosenwald Scholarship in 2010 and the 2010–2011 Scünci National Training Scholarship for ABT’s Summer Intensive.


Waski joined Boston Ballet as an artist of the Company in 2019.

 
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AND AS JANE AUSTEN LUCIANA PARIS.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Luciana Paris began her ballet training at the age of seven with Elena Perez.  From 1991-1996 she studied at the Colon Theater Superior de Art Institute with Katty Gallo and Raul Candal.  Paris is a recipient of a Colon Theater Foundation Scholarship, based on her outstanding qualifications at Colon Theater Superior Ballet Institute.  She won a Gold Medal at the Latin American Dance Competition in 1995.


In 1996 Paris was invited by Maximiliano Guerra to join Ballet Camara and tour with the company in Argentina.  She then joined the Teatro Colon Ballet as a soloist where she performed the role of Red Riding Hood in The Sleeping Beauty.


In December 1996 Paris joined Julio Bocca’s Ballet Argentino as a principal dancer and became Bocca’s dance partner.  Ballet Argentino’s Artistic Director was Lidia Segni, and Ballet Master William Burman.  From 1997 to 2001, Paris and Julio Bocca danced together a vast classical, neoclassical and modern repertoire including the Don Quixote Grand Pas de Deux, Coppélia Pas de Deux, The Nutcracker Pas de Deux, Black Swan Pas de Deux, Le Corsaire Pas de Deux, Paquita, George Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux and Donizetti Variations, Mauro Bigonzetti’s Interlaced Symphony, Martha Graham’s Diversion of Angels – the white couple – and Acts of Lights – Lament – (both staged by Peggy Lyman); Jean Pierre Aviotte’s Birdy, Maurico Wainrot’s From far Away and Echoes, Oscar Araiz’s Tango, Ana Maria Stekelman’s Zita, Alberto Mendez’ Late at Nap and Suite Generis, Ricky Pashkus’ Muchacha Ojos de Papel, Kevin O’Day’s Blood Grover, and many others.  Paris’ repertoire with Ballet Argentino company also included Myrta in Ballet Argentino’s production of Giselle at the Luna Park Buenos Aires featuring Alessandra Ferri in the title role.


Paris went on many national tours in Argentina and international tours around the world with Julio Bocca and the Ballet Argentino, including Greece, Brazil, Italy, Spain, China, Japan, Germany, the United States, Israel, Thailand, France, Cuba, Panama, Singapore and Chile.


Paris appeared at the 1997 Birmingham Ballet Gala in England dancing the Coppélia Pas de Deux with Julio Bocca.


Paris joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in October 2001. She was appointed a Soloist in August 2015.  Her repertoire with the Company includes Mercedes, a flower girl and the lead gypsy in Don Quixote; the first Shade variation, the small Pas d’Action and the lead D’Jampe in La Bayadère; an Odalisque and the Lead Pirate Woman in Le Corsaire; the pas de trois, the Spanish Princess, the Spanish Dance and a cygnet in Swan Lake; First Girl in Fancy Free; Flower Girl in Gaîté Parisienne, Bathilde, Moyna, the peasants pas de deux and a friend of Giselle in Giselle; The Old Mother in The Green Table; Prudence in Lady of the Camellias; Her Other Stepsister and Moss in James Kudelka’s Cinderella; Prayer, Mazurka Lady and Lead Mazurka and Czardas in Coppélia, Columbine, Spanish Dance and one of The Nutcracker’s Sisters in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker; Bianca and a Carnival Dancer in Othello; the Third Duet in The Leaves Are Fading, the Lead Polovtsian Girl in the Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor, a Harlot and Rosaline in Romeo and Juliet, Fleur de farine (Wheat flower), Diamond Fairy and Silver Fairy in Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty, Persephone in Sylvia, the cowgirl in Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, a Can-Can Lady in The Merry Widow, the Lead Saracen Dancer in Raymonda, Zina’s friend in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Bright Stream, Princess Praline in Alexei Ratmansky’s Whipped Cream, Bertha Mason in Cathy Marston’s Jane Eyre and leading roles in Antony Tudor’s Pillar of Fire, Jardin aux Lilas and Dark Elegies; in Twyla Tharp’s Deuce Coupe, Sinatra Suite, In the Upper Room, Bach Partita, Brief Fling, The Brahms-Hayden Variations, Rabbit and Rogue and Baker’s Dozen; in Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphony #9, Dumbarton, Firebird , The Bright Stream, Seven Sonatas, Jiri Kylian’s Petit Mort and Sinfonietta, Paul Taylor’s Company B, Airs and Black Tuesday, George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, Theme and Variations, Symphonie Concertante, Symphony in C, Ballet Imperial and Ballo della Regina, Merce Cunningham’s Duets, James Kudelka’s Désir; in Harald Lander’s Études; in Jorma Elo’s Glow – Stop; in Mark Morris’ Gong, Aszure Barton’s One of Three, Irina Kolpakova and Kevin McKenzie’s Raymonda Divertissements, Liam Scarlett’s With a Chance of Rain and Frederick Ashton’s Symphonic Variations.


Paris created a Consort in Twyla Tharp’s A Gathering of Ghosts, Callirhoe’s Maid in Alexei Ratmansky’s Of Love and Rage, Snow in Ratmansky’s The Seasons, a leading role in Robert Hill’s Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra (World Premiere at New York City Center in 2002) and a featured role in Marcelo Gomes’ AfterEffect. 


She appeared with Project Ballet Theater, Artistic Director Robert Hill, Artistic Associate Georgina Parkinson, at the Ballet Hawaii Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall (Honolulu) and at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (Maui) – Hawaii, 2002.


Paris danced Twyla Tharp’s Sinatra Suite with Marcelo Gomes at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts Gala Opening in Las Vegas, March 20, 2012 and at the 2008 Kennedy Center Honors when choreographer Twyla Tharp was one of the six Honorees, broadcast on CBS December 30, 2008.  Paris also danced Sinatra Suite at the New York City Center with José Carreño in 2006 – Carreño’s debut in Sinatra Suite – at the 2011 ABT Fall Season Opening Night Gala with Herman Cornejo, and at the 2012 Fall for Dance Festival at New York City Center, also with Herman Cornejo.


Paris’ guest appearances include the Don Quixote Grand Pas de Deux and Le Corsaire Pas de Deux at Teatro Ciudad de las Artes (Argentina) with Colon Theater principal Federico Fernandez (2012); Giselle in Giselle with Roddy Doble as Albrecht, with Southhold Dance Theater (2012); Tharp’s Known by Heart pas de deux and Gemma Bond’s Manner with the Ballet Manchester at the Southern Vermont Arts Center, the premiere of David Fernandez’s Libertango, with New York City Ballet principal Gonzalo Garcia, at the El Museo del Barrio Theater (New York 2012); the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Southold Dance Theater’s production of The Nutcracker in 2010 with ABT’s Sean Stewart as the Cavalier, in the Houston Repertoire Ballet’s production of the same title in 2009, with ABT soloist Jared Matthews as her partner; and also in 2003 with Colin County Ballet’s production, dancing the Grand Pas de Deux with ABT principal Jesus Pastor.


Paris also toured Spain as a guest dancer with Angel Corella’s Company several times, dancing George Balanchine’s Who Cares? with Herman Cornejo, among other other roles.


In 2012 American Ballet Theater designated Paris as a Certified Teacher.


ABT is grateful to Jill S. Slater for supporting the Dancer Fund in honor of Luciana Paris.

 
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DAVID FERNANDEZ: CHOREOGRAPHER/DIRECTOR

David's most acclaimed choreography, Five Variations on a Theme, was created for New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Joaquin De Luz. The work premiered as part of the acclaimed Kings of the Dance tour. It was performed to standing ovations in NYC, LA, London, Paris, Rome, Moscow, Kiev, and Odessa. Other notable choreography commissions include pieces created for leading dancers of the American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Kings of the Dance Tour, Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble, Youth America Grand Prix Gala Concert, and many others.  


David is an award-winning filmmaker: his latest dance-on-film accomplishments include the Los Angeles Olympus Film Festival Award for Best Public Service Announcement. David’s award-winning short, Moving Though It — Phases of an Emergency Through Dance, uses a revolutionary approach of making a public service announcement through dance. Ideated and directed by David Fernandez, the project was commissioned and sponsored by the NYC Emergency Management and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. 

Other film festival achievements include: 

  • Moving Through It; Official Selection Best Short Competitions, 2019;

  • White Shirt, Black Tie, Black Pants XXS, Director, and Choreographer. The short premiered at the Dance on Camera Film Festival at Lincoln Center in 2012; 

  • Objects in Mirror are Closer Than They Appear, Director and Choreographer. Premiered at Dance on Camera Film Festival at Lincoln Center in 2007;

  • Icarus APR, Director, and Choreographer. Premiered at Dance on Camera Film Festival at Lincoln Center in 2009.

International Summer programs teaching and choreographing at:

Palermo Ballet Summer Intensive- Italy 

New Zealand School of Dance.

Academia de Danza Franck- México


Recent events:

New choreography works for the Harvard Ballet Company.

Dance film for New Jersey Ballet / Premier Spotlight

Virtual gala Center Stage presented by the Washington Ballet

Virtual performance for the Columbia Repertory Ballet

Resident Choreographer at IHeartDance NYC

Choreographer and Ballet Master at American Repertory Ballet, Princeton

 
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"To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love"

Jane Austen

 
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DONATE

Thank you for making COURAGE The Jane Austen Heroines possible.