Phyllis Papa celebrates 30 years of sustained excellence with new show at Resorts
In 1982 Phyllis Papa, an acclaimed ballet dancer whose credits include the American Ballet Theatre, established the Atlantic Contemporary Ballet Theatre in the Atlantic City area. Now known as the Atlantic City Ballet, her ballet company has been a treasured beacon of dance excellence in southern New Jersey for 30 years.
To celebrate that milestone, the ACB will present its 30th anniversary Gala Celebration Saturday, June 9, at Resorts Superstar Theater. The celebration will feature the Atlantic City Ballet’s newest production, Caught Up in the Swing, and will include a pre-party with champagne and appetizers, and a post-party with champagne, coffee, desserts and the opportunity to meet the cast of the ballet.
Tickets are $75 for the pre-party and the show, and $125 for pre and post parties and the show.
Papa admits that when she first began her company in 1982, she never imagined she would still be here 30 years later. Says Papa, “I couldn’t even think past 10 years. I knew I wanted to start a ballet company, and I was hoping it would be viable. Once I got to 20 years, I wanted it to continue on and now I hope it will continue on past my lifetime.”
Atlantic City became her dance home thanks to Steve and Lillian Norton (he was a senior executive at Resorts Hotel Casino; she was a ballet fan). They had seen her dance and wanted to bring a ballet company to the area.
Seed money was provided by a federal CETA grant, which allowed Papa to have 11 dancers and four staff. However, the money dried up and the dancers agreed to become a co-op. Whatever money they made they would share.
Papa also needed time off to have a family, and while the company continued, it was not a full-time enterprise. Still she managed to keep performances going over the years and was able to bring back the company full-time in 1999.
“I used professional dancers from the area,” explains Papa. “I started with three dancers. It was like starting all over again. In 2006 I brought over five Romanian dancers and the company really started taking off.
“The last six years have been a big breakthrough. This is a high-caliber company with 11 countries represented. The dancers who come to the Atlantic City Ballet are top [dancers] in their countries. They win gold and silver medals.”
Papa is also very proud that, “On Sunday [June 10] I leave for China. A member of my company, Gal Mahari, will be competing internationally at the request of the Chinese government.”
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Late October, with the festive vibe of Halloween in the air, is certainly the perfect time of the year to present the story of Dracula. The Atlantic City Ballet is bringing its version of the elegant bloodsucker to the stage of Resorts Superstar Theater this Tuesday, Oct. 30, for a special free performance.
The Atlantic City Ballet’s two newest productions, 'Caught Up in the Swing' and '7 Sins.' will be featured as double-header productions at three southern New Jersey locations — Rowan University’s Wilson Hall’s Pfleeger Theater (Saturday, March 17, starting 7pm); the Ocean First Theater in Manahawkin (Saturday, March 31, 7pm); and at Richard Stockton College’s Performing Arts Center (Thursday, April 19, 7pm). Both productions are family friendly and appropriate for all ages.
The Atlantic City Ballet is coming to Resorts Hotel and Casino’s Superstar Theater Friday and Sunday, Nov. 4 and 6, for two free shows.
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“I think for a lot of people it’s like a kickoff to the holiday season, and an event people enjoy going to see each year,” says the A.C. Ballet's Phyllis Papa, who employs 22 professional dancers in the production, many of whom come from, and were formally ballet trained in, other countries.
On Thursday, Oct. 28, the Atlantic City Ballet returns to the Stockton PAC for 'Dracula,' a full three-act ballet from artistic director Phyllis Papa.
High culture doesn’t always get much time in the spotlight in the shadow of Atlantic City’s glitz and pop culture extravaganzas, but one of the most enduring, and endearing, arts groups in the southern New Jersey area remains the Atlantic City Ballet.
The Atlantic City Ballet holds a special fundraiser at the Atlantic City Country Club Sunday where the public gets to meet the ballet, dancers and all.
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