Recognizing the need for more expansive gender representation in the ballet canon, the Trocks are officially launching their Choreography Institute in November 2023 to foster choreographic residency opportunities for choreographers, along with an opportunity to commission new works for the company. The program was piloted in 2021 during a pandemic-era bubble residency and became part of LBT’s annual programming in 2023.  The Trocks’ Choreography Institute features a series of residency collaborations with a selection of emerging ballet choreographers who have expressed interest in creating new ballet works on pointe for the Trocks’ uniquely capable male-identifying and nonbinary dancers. While the residency is process-based and there is no expectation that choreographers will fully develop a new work, the relationships built through this new program may lead to future commissions.

Each residency will feature a choreographer hand-selected by Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo’s artistic leadership. Each choreographer is provided with an initial artist fee, travel and accommodations, access to the Trocks’ full company of dancers, and a minimum of one week of studio time in NYC to create new work. Any works commissioned following the original creative period will receive an additional commissioning fee and additional time with the company to complete and produce the new work.

Inaugural Institute Guest Choreographer in November 2023: Durante Verzola

Durante Verzola is a 27-year-old, Filipino American choreographer. Verzola’s first choreographic work, A Light Exists in Spring, was chosen by Lourdes Lopez to be performed in Miami City Ballet School’s 2014 Workshop. Since then, he has choreographed several works for Miami City Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet II, Ballet Dallas, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Ballet Chicago, Columbia Ballet Collaborative (Columbia University), Goucher College, School of Pennsylvania Ballet, Kansas School of Classical Ballet, Peabody Dance, Princeton University Ballet, Ballet Conservatory of South Texas, and MANNA’s Shut Up & Dance. Mr. Verzola was selected as the inaugural choreographer to lead Miami City Ballet School’s Choreographic Intensive during the Summer of 2017, as well as invited to participate in CPYB’s ChoreoPlan 2017. He is a winner of Joffrey’s Winning Works, which recognizes talented and emerging ALAANA choreographers. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Verzola has choreographed several works virtually, and completely remotely. He was invited to the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University for an Artistic Partnership Initiative Fellowship with Miami City Ballet in the Summer of 2021. Verzola participated in the Fall 2021 Session at New York Choreographic Institute where he worked with the dancers of New York City Ballet. He most recently premiered his work, Sentimiento, with designs by Esteban Cortazar at Miami City Ballet.

His work has been described as “sharp and witty…so vibrant it is almost like a celebration of classicism and vitality with non-derivative balletic language…he continues to present classical ballet vocabulary in unfussy, thrilling ways,” by Philadelphia Dance, and as “carefree, bringing show biz airs and ballet with a jazz bounce to the stage,” by Dance View Times. The Philadelphia Dance Journal praised him as “a choreographer on the rise, with a gift for designing space and succeeds at directing moving bodies [with] a sophisticated blend of theatrical flair and carefully crafted movements.” Explore Dance has praised him saying, “For a 20-something choreographer, Verzola startled with his inventiveness via straightforward balletics. This piece challenged with silky troupe configurations, unfussy classical artistry, and the fluency of phrase variations.” Theater Jones wrote, “Verzola’s vocabulary fell on the classical side of neo-classical, and the dancers rose to the technical challenge. The sequences were logical but playful, always deliciously musical.”

He has served as a guest faculty member at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Joffrey Academy of Dance, Peabody Dance, Philadelphia Dance Academy, Ballet Conservatory of South Texas, and Kansas School of Classical Ballet. He has served on the full time faculty of Miami City Ballet since July of 2022.

Mr. Verzola is from Lansing, Kansas, and was most recently a dancer with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet. He began his training with Marisa Paull and received his formal ballet training from the Kansas City Ballet School and Kansas School of Classical Ballet. At the age of 16, Mr. Verzola left home to train with the Miami City Ballet School on full scholarship. During his time there, he performed several ballets, including George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante and Serenade. He has attended summer courses under scholarship at the School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. In 2014, he was invited to join Pennsylvania Ballet II. Verzola joined The Suzanne Farrell Ballet in 2016. His repertoire includes works by Balanchine, Robbins, Wheeldon, Keigwin, and Petipa.

With gratitude…

The Trocks’ Choreography Institute is made possible thanks to leadership support from Denise Littlefield Sobel, along with additional support from The Howard Gilman Foundation, Shubert Foundation, The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, The Rallis Foundation, The Harkness Foundation for Dance, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and support in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

At work in the studio with Durante Verzola.

Photos by Alexander Iziliaev.