As we welcome a new year I find myself reflecting on 2021. While that was a year of great challenges due to Covid and a year with some loss for the ballet world and for me personally with the death of dancer/ choreographer John Paul Comelin and Premier Danseur Extraordinaire and former director of the Paris Opera Patrick Dupond, it has also been a year of discovery, knowledge and joy.
We had a lot to be grateful for in 2021. The SNB company and Academy managed to survive through the hard work and dedication of our board, staff, dancers and students and the support of our City, State and Federal government.
In 2021 Alexander Biber was hired on staff at SNB and that has been a blessing for all of us. Alex has been a part of SNB in some capacity for 19 of its almost 21 years.
I remember the first day that I met Alex. I was head of ballet at Gina Kaskie Davis’s Western Nevada Performing Arts Center in Carson City. Alex came to watch a ballet class with his friend who was a student of mine. I went home that night and told my husband: “I met a ballet dancer today. He does not know that he is a ballet dancer but I do. All I have to do is get him to take a ballet class and he will realize it.” But that was not so easy. Alex was an actor and a singer and had little interest in studying dance, especially ballet.
Alex comes from a theatrical background. His mother is the extraordinary actress and Bruka Theater director Mary Bennett who adores her son: “There is a magic to Alexander that has always been constantly at work in his heart and soul.”
That magic started at a very young age according to Mary: “When he was very young he came into my room holding up his hands in a beautiful gesture saying: “look Mom it’s a gate to Alexander land.” Mary explains: “Alex is building and rebuilding empires, experiments, and universes in his imagination and trying always to make new sense of them to make the world a better place.”
Once he began studying ballet, Biber discovered (as I predicted) that he was a ballet dancer in his heart and soul, and he progressed very quickly showing an aptitude for both performance and choreography.
Alexander started at SNB as an Apprentice and through the years was raised to corps de ballet, then demi-soloist, soloist and then principal. After graduating from high school, Alexander was taken into the Sacramento Ballet company and continued dancing professionally and creating choreography with both SNB and Sac Ballet for the next seven years, and he became a founding member of the Capital Dance Project.
SNB Associate Artistic Director and principal dancer, Ananda Bena-Weber, has danced with Biber through the years: “I have always loved dancing with Alex because he is extremely strong and a very skilled partner. He makes me feel secure, safe, and light! (which is a big thing for me because I have always been considered large for a ballet dancer!) Alex is a wonderful actor and so willing to dive deep into a role and really connect around a character. He will go to deep places with you without hesitation or ego. It is really wonderful to work with someone like that.”
The 2020 Covid experience affected many. Organizations changed and lives changed. Alexander Biber’s was one of them: “I decided that I would like to share my love of ballet with the next generation of dancers.”
Mary Bennett explains: “Alexander is a creator and a teacher. It is his beautiful, inquisitive, caring heart that truly inspires.”
Biber has been an inspiration and part of our SNB family almost from the start, and we are so very fortunate to have him now as part of our SNB staff as a teacher, ballet master and choreographer. Alex explains: “SNB is my family, and it is an honor to bring to others some of the amazing things I have learned through the years.”
The SNB company dancers and the Academy students (from the adults to the little ones in the Boys Ballet class) adore Alex. For me, personally, he is now and has (from the first day we met) always been a treasure.
Mary Bennett says it best for all:” We are so grateful for this time that has brought Alexander closer to us, so we can continue to get to know his magic and the amazing man he has become.”
To learn more about Alexander Biber, SNB and the SNB Academy, visit www.sierranevadaballet.org or call 775-360-8663