Get to Know: Ballet Master Gerard W. Holt

Mid-Atlantic Contemporary BalletGerard W. Holt
Executive Artistic Director, Mid-Atlantic Contemporary Ballet
Ballet Master, Father Ryan Arts Center

Ballet Master, Gerad Holt, uses the Vaganova system of ballet as the technical for the new professional bound and recreational dance programs at the Father Ryan Arts Center. With this system, students learn to use the whole body while studying basic positions and movements, gaining strength, and practicing harmony in motion.

Q: Describe your work?
A: I will be teaching the level 1 ballet technique class to the young dance students at the Father Ryan Arts Center.

Q: What/who inspired you to become a artist?
A: My Parents.  My dad was a well known jazz saxophonist on the east coast.

Q: What is the best thing about your profession?
A: Being creative and expressive in ways no other profession can.

Q: What is the most challenging part?
A: The strive for perfection; always trying to grow and reach new and sometimes impossible heights.

Q: What are you most proud of in your life?
A: The length of my career and the many great people, directors, choreographers and companies I have performed with. My transitions from professional ballet student to professional classical ballet dancer, from professional classical ballet dancer to professional classical ballet teacher, from professional classical ballet teacher, to ballet master, from ballet master to artistic director, and finally, starting and directing my own professional non-profit contemporary ballet company.

Q: What are your three greatest passions?
A: God. My career. My family and friends.

Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ve ever learned?
A: For me, there has never been one important lesson.  I believe there are many important life lessons to learn along the way, and even when one gets older one never stops learning. However, if I were to pick just one, it would have to be “Always have faith in God. Anything and everything is possible through God.” And if I were to throw a cliche’ in there, it would be “never say never, because one never knows what will happen or what you’ll have to end up doing”. My godfather taught me that. Another great and fine jazz musician.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: I don’t think I have just one pet peeve, but if I were to pick one, I’d say it really bothers me when people, TV, Hollywood, the media, insults my intelligence. And probably for me, a big pet peeve – as an artist and a director – would be general disrespect.

Q: Who’s the most intriguing person you’ve ever worked with and why?
A: That’s difficult because there have been so many, not just because they were intriguing but because they inspired me and gave me hope. I’ve often said when I was a young dancer, that when I retired and stared teaching or directing, I wanted to be like Mr. Richard Cammack. Mr. Cammack was the Artistic Director of San Francisco Ballet School when I was there. He just had a manner about him, a calm, cool, authoritative manner and professionalism about the way that he ran the school, taught us dancers, and just all around knowledge – and I thought if I could be like that as a teacher and a director that I would be doing good.

Q: What three words best describe you?
A: Emotional. Sensitive. Loyal.

Q: Do you have a guiding principle?
A: I don’t have one guiding principal, but I firmly believe in the ten commandments, affectionately known as Gods laws. Some of them are a little out dated due to the times – naturally, but for the most part, if one tries to live by these commandments, it’s a pretty good chance that one’ll be ok.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in the coming year?
A: Everything that is possible.

More with Gerard W. Holt
Mr. Holt began dancing at the school of the Hartford Ballet. At age 16, he was offered an apprenticeship with the Hartford Ballet Company where he performed soloist roles in “The Nutcracker” and began learning the Balanchine repertoire. His professional training includes The Dance Theatre of Harlem School, the School of American Ballet and the School of the San Francisco Ballet, all of which he attended on scholarship. Mr. Holt’s professional career includes the San Francisco Ballet, the Richmond Ballet, the State Ballet of Missouri (now Kansas City Ballet), Ballet Met in Columbus Ohio and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.  Mr. Holt joined Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in 1990 and was featured in works such as Choo San Ghoos’ “In the Glow of the Night,” “Beginnings” and  “Configurations,” as well as the Balanchine works “La Sonnombula” and “Allegro Brilliante” and contemporary ballets including Sir Kenneth McMillan’s “Elite Syncopations” and Alvin Ailey’s “The River.”

While a member of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Mr. Holt taught ballet classes throughout the greater Pittsburgh area at such schools as the Laurel Ballet, Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, Ballet Baroque, Rodgers School for the Creative and Performing Arts and Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. He was on staff for two years at Point Park University and was ballet master for five years at the Western Pennsylvania Performing Arts Company in Vandergrift, Pa. Mr. Holt became the Artistic Director of Dance in the LaRoche College Dance Department from January 2001 until May 2010.

Mr. Holt has recently returned as ballet master for Western Pennsylvania Performing Arts Company, and he is the Executive Artistic Director of the Mid-Atlantic Contemporary Ballet Company, which he founded with colleague Miriam Scigliano in April 2008.

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About Staycee

Staycee R. Pearl received her most formative and diverse training at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA, then the Dance Theatre of Harlem and Alvin Ailey American Dance Center of New York City respectively. In the fall of 2001, Staycee began her six-year tenure as Artistic Director of Xpressions Contemporary Dance Company (XCDC). She premiered numerous original works for XCDC, which include: Bitter Suite Nina, a tribute to Nina Simone; and Freedom’s Fire, celebrating the beauty, strength and struggle of women throughout time. In the summer of 2006, Staycee received a scholarship to attend Urban Bush Women’s Summer Institute/Place Matters, where dancers, choreographers, and artists participated in workshops and collaborative performances dealing with community involvement in the arts with an eye on New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. She was one of thirty-six women honored by the Hazlett Theatre for their work as founders, pioneers, and instigators in the Pittsburgh arts community. Ms. Pearl received a BFA in Studio Art and from the University of Pittsburgh in April of 2009, and continues to work with the newly founded creative production vehicle, PearlArts: movement and sound, with husband Herman ‘Soy Sos’ Pearl. She is responsible for the choreography in Nathan Davis’ jazz-opera, Just Above My Head (2004), and Carmen Jones (2006), produced by Opera Theater of Pittsburgh.
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2 Responses to Get to Know: Ballet Master Gerard W. Holt

  1. Lilia Huguley says:

    I have watched Gerard since he was a small child and saw his wish become a dream, and his dreams become his reality. May you enjoy great success in your new ventures, Gerard, and, as always, we are proud of you. Lil

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