Magazine article Pointe

Versatility Abounds

Magazine article Pointe

Versatility Abounds

Article excerpt

Pennsylvania Ballet corps de ballet dancer Abigail Mentzer thrives in the company's diverse rep.

Abigail Mentzer's ability to cleanly perform neoclassical ballets and contemporary choreography makes her a standout at Pennsylvania Ballet, where she is a corps de ballet member. The company's diverse repertoire is anchored with Balanchine ballets, but also includes classical and an increasing amount of contemporary works.

Mentzer owes her technical foundation to the faculty at the School of American Ballet where she studied for 10 years before joining Pennsylvania Ballet Il in 2002 and then becoming an apprentice with the main company in 2004. Her style was refined at various summer programs (where she also had her first exposure to contemporary dance).

"The longer she's with us, the more versatility she has," says Artistic Director Roy Kaiser. She shines, for example, in Carmina Burana, a contemporary work choreographed by fellow corps member Matthew Neenan that premiered in March. "It calls for weightiness and using the ground, the opposite of what I thought of as her strengths," says Kaiser. "She can be delicate and forceful. She moves big and eats up space. She's a petite woman, so to have that dynamic is wonderful."

Becoming a dancer was never a question for Mentzer, who, at 12, had to decide between SAB and the children's chorus of the New York City Opera, for which she sang. "Rehearsals were conflicting," she says. "The ballet said I had to pick one or the other, because I couldn't keep missing rehearsals. I remember my mom saying she didn't know if I'd really like to be a dancer. I looked at her and said, 'Mom. I am a dancer.'"

Mentzer's life, indeed, seems centered around the art form. She's dating PB apprentice Keith Mearns, and she named her puppy Thisbe after a character in the play Bottom & Co. are rehearsing in A Midsummer Night 's Dream. Balanchine's version of that ballet features her favorite role to dance. …

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