August 2022

Soak up the stunning Michigan summer evenings as you enjoy Grand Rapids Ballet at various outdoor venues ahead of our official season launch in October. Our dancers will perform under the colorful evening skies, featuring a return to Studio Park on Friday, August 19. Featured works will include James Sofranko’s Mozart Symphony, an excerpt from Sofranko’s A Dreamer, the pas de deux from Romeo & Juliet, and selected works from Jumpstart 2022. Our dancers will return to the amphitheater at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park on August 30. Featured works will include Katarzyna Skarpetowska’s Off the Canvas, Balanchine’s Serenade, and excerpts from James Sofranko’s Romeo and Juliet.

Our Summer Series is generously sponsored by Varnum LLP.


Studio Park | Friday, August 19, 2022

Evening performance at Studio Park, located at:
123 Ionia Ave SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Guests are invited to bring their own chairs. Studio Park also provides lawn chairs on a first-come-first-served basis.

Summer Festival | August 26-27, 2022

As Grand Rapids Ballet continues celebrating 50 years of lifting the human spirit through the art of dance, we are hosting a FREE, outdoor Summer Dance Festival! Taking place Friday, August 26, and Saturday, August 27, 2022, Grand Rapids Ballet welcomes West Michigan to enjoy two evenings of world-class dance, tasty food, and beer and wine all under the evening skies outside of the Peter Martin Wege Theatre.

Frederik Meijer Gardens | Tuesday, August 30, 2022

  • The performance begins at 7 p.m.
  • Tickets are free for Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park members and are included in admission for other guests.
  • Tickets are available on the day of the performance in the Meijer Gardens Welcome Center or Amphitheater Box Office beginning at 5 p.m.
  • Additional information is available at:
  • Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, located at:
    1000 E Beltline Ave NE
    Grand Rapids, MI 49525

Chairs of all heights are welcome, and the permanent seats at the rear of the amphitheater are available on a first-come, first-served basis.


George Balanchine

George Balanchine



Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, George Balanchine (1904-1983) is regarded as the foremost contemporary choreographer in the world of ballet. He came to the United States in late 1933, at the age of 29, accepting the invitation of the young American arts patron Lincoln Kirstein (1907-1996), whose great passions included the dream of creating a ballet company in America. At Balanchine’s behest, the School of American Ballet was founded in 1934, the first product of the Balanchine-Kirstein collaboration. Several ballet companies directed by the two were created and dissolved in the years that followed, while Balanchine found other outlets for his choreography. Eventually, with a performance on October 11, 1948, New York City Ballet was born. Balanchine served as its ballet master and principal choreographer from 1948 until his death in 1983.

Balanchine’s more than 400 dance works include Serenade (1934), Concerto Barocco (1941), Le Palais de Cristal, later renamed Symphony in C (1947), Orpheus (1948), The Nutcracker (1954), Agon (1957)Symphony in Three Movements (1972), Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1972), Vienna Waltzes (1977), Ballo della Regina (1978), and Mozartiana (1981). His final ballet, a new version of Stravinsky’s Variations for Orchestra, was created in 1982. He also choreographed for films, operas, revues, and musicals. Among his best-known dances for the stage is Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, originally created for Broadway’s On Your Toes (1936). The musical was later made into a movie.

A major artistic figure of the twentieth century, Balanchine revolutionized the look of classical ballet. Taking classicism as his base, he heightened, quickened, expanded, streamlined, and even inverted the fundamentals of the 400-year-old language of academic dance. This had an inestimable influence on the growth of dance in America. Although at first his style seemed particularly suited to the energy and speed of American dancers, especially those he trained, his ballets are now performed by all the major classical ballet companies throughout the world.

James Sofranko

James Sofranko

Artistic Director | Choreographer


James Sofranko assumed the position of Artistic Director of Grand Rapids Ballet for the 2018/2019 season after an 18-year career as a soloist with the San Francisco Ballet. He is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and received his dance training at The Harid Conservatory in Florida and later at The Juilliard School in New York City, where he received his BFA in dance.

At San Francisco Ballet, he danced in numerous works and world premieres by choreographers such as Helgi Tomasson, Val Caniparoli, William Forsythe, Liam Scarlett, Justin Peck, Alexi Ratmansky, Edwaard Liang, Lar Lubovitch, Wayne Macgregor, Mark Morris, Julia Adam, Yuri Possokhov, Christopher Wheeldon, Paul Taylor, Arthur Pita, Stanton Welch, Jorma Elo, Hans Van Manen, Jiri Kylian, John Neumeier, James Kudelka, Lila York, Kenneth Macmillan, George Balanchine, and Jerome Robbins. Some of his favorite roles include Mercutio in Tomasson’s Romeo and Juliet, Eros in Mark Morris’ Sylvia, Bugle Boy in Taylor’s Company B, and the second sailor in Robbins’ Fancy Free.

He received an Isadora Duncan award (Izzie) for best performance in 2011 in Yuri Possokhov’s Classical Symphony.

James starred in the principal role of Eddie in the Broadway touring company of Movin’ Out, a musical choreographed by Twyla Tharp to the songs of Billy Joel.

In 2012 he co-founded DanceFAR (Dance For A Reason), an annual benefit performance and after-party that brings the Bay Area dance community together to support the work of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC).

In 2014, he formed a new contemporary repertory company in San Francisco, SFDanceworks. The company has presented works by Alejandro Cerrudo, Lar Lubovitch, José Limón, Nacho Duato, Christopher Bruce, and world premieres by Penny Saunders, James Graham, Danielle Rowe, Dana Genshaft, and Sofranko himself.

He has created many original choreographic works, including for Grand Rapids Ballet (Two Tangos, Ballade, The Sweet By and By, A Dreamer), the San Francisco Ballet School (Rendezvous, Means to an End, Mozart Symphony), SFDanceworks (Z, Homing), Long Beach Ballet (Brandenberg), and Marin Dance Theater (The Beaten Path). James has also worked as a repetiteur for Yuri Possokhov, resident choreographer for San Francisco Ballet, and has staged his ballets on Cincinnati Ballet, Colorado Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet.

In the two years since assuming the directorship of Grand Rapids Ballet, the company has performed works by some of the most sought after choreographers working today, including Yuri Possokhov, Alejandro Cerrudo, Penny Saunders, Trey McIntyre, Val Caniparoli, Adam Hougland, Danielle Rowe, Nicolas Blanc, and Brian Enos. He also instituted a program entitled Jumpstart which allows new choreographic talent to emerge from within the ranks of the dancers. The company collaborates frequently with other cultural organizations in the city, including with the Grand Rapids Symphony, ArtPrize, Festival of the Arts, DisArt, and performed for the first time ever at the amphitheater at the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

James would like to thank his wife Cynthia Sheppard Sofranko for her ongoing support and creative input in all of his work.

Katarzyna Skarpetowska

Katarzyna Skarpetowska



Skarpetowska is a native of Warsaw, Poland. She is an alumna of the NYC High School of Performing Arts and received a BFA from The Juilliard School in 1999 under Artistic Director Benjamin Harkarvy.  In 1992, at age 15, she was the youngest cast member of the Broadway show, METRO, directed and choreographed by Janusz Jozefowicz.  Kate was a member of Parsons Dance from 1999 until 2006 where she performed lead roles in the company’s repertory including the iconic CAUGHT.  From 2007 until 2014, she danced for The Lar Lubovitch Dance Company performing at many reputable venues such as New York City’s City Center, Washington DC’s Kennedy Center, and Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater.  Over the years, she repeatedly appeared as a guest artist first with The Battleworks Dance Company and then The Buglisi Dance Theater and in 2007, she was one of two featured dancers during the Glimmerglass Opera Festival.  In 2008 she toured Italy with WHY BE EXTRAORDINARY IF YOU CAN BE YOURSELF, a show by Daniel Ezralow.  Skarpetowska has worked as a repetiteur and assistant choreographer to Lar Lubovitch, David Parsons, and Robert Battle setting works on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Introdans, Oldenburgisches Staatstheater, Ballet Austin, Atlanta Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Repertory Dance Theatre, and Mikhailovsky Theater in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  As a choreographer, she has been commissioned by BalletX, Richmond Ballet, Rochester City Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, Parsons Dance, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater II, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Buglisi Dance Theater, Big Muddy Dance Company, Owen/Cox Dance Group, Bruce Wood Dance, The Juilliard School, and National Choreographers Initiative.  For her choreographic achievements, Kate was named Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2016 and was nominated for a NY Dance and Performance Award, The Bessie, in the emerging choreographer category in 2017.  In 2018, Kate choreographed an Opera Theatre of Saint Louis production of Orfeo and Eurydice, in collaboration with director Ron Daniels and maestro Pierre Vallet.  Skarpetowska is also a freelance teacher holding workshops throughout the world.  Kate has been on the faculty of the American Dance Festival, American Ballet Theater summer program, School of American Ballet, Boston Conservatory summer program, Key West Modern Dance, Peridance, Washington Ballet @THEARC, and UC Irvine.  She resides in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and New York City. For more information please visit




August 26 & 27, 2022

As Grand Rapids Ballet continues celebrating 50 years of lifting the human spirit through the art of dance, we are hosting a FREE, outdoor Summer Dance Festival! Taking place Friday, August 26, and Saturday, August 27, 2022, Grand Rapids Ballet welcomes West Michigan to enjoy two evenings of world-class dance, tasty food, and beer tents all under the evening skies outside of the Peter Martin Wege Theatre.

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