Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Eric Emmanuele, at 22, has already racked up numerous credits as a tap and ballet dancer, as a singer and choreographer, and has helped build and run two theaters on opposite sides of the Atlantic.
On Sunday, a recent ballet by Emmanuele. "Timespan," originally premiered by the Hamburg Ballet in Germany, will be given a first local showing by the Washington Ballet in a program that also includes a new work by resident choreographer Choo San Goh.
Emmanuele grew up in Lynbrook, L. I., and started dancing almost by accident. The mother of a school chum wanted her son to study tap dancing, but he'd only go on condition another boy would come along. So, at 8, Emmanuele and the friend had their first instruction in a school basement.
A little later, he tried ballet. He'd seen some of the big international companies on his mother's Hurok series subscription. "It looked so great," he says, "but when you start actually studying, you realize how impossible the things they're doing are. I thought omigod, I'll never be able to do that, never."
He persisted, however, and even began to choreograph first high school musicals, then pieces like a "Pyramus and Thisbe" for the Nassau County Ballet, a creation that also prompted a feature on Emmanuele, aged 16, in The New York Times. After two summers of study with Robert Joffrey, he was recruited for the dance department at Point Park College on full scholarship, and simultaneously hired by the Pittsburgh Ballet.
"I sneaked off with some of the dancers," he says, "and choreographed a ballet on my own. When Petrov, the director, saw it he was all excited, but he wasn't quite willing to stage it." So Emmanuele picked up once more, this time for New York, where he struck up a friendship with Edward Caton, a former ballet master of the National ballet, and another ambitious young dancer, Gyles Fontaine. The three of them built a theater in a Soho basement and mounted an off-beat production called "The Snow", which is still evolving.
Next came a stint in Brussels, where he was invited by Maurice Bejart for his Ballet of the 20th Century troupe.
In Hamburg, Emmanuele suggested to a friend visiting from New York that they build a theater together. "When do you want to start, tonight or tomorrow morning?" the friend said. Thus was born the Theater Wilheimsburg in a Hamburg suburb.
One of the works on the theater's opening program was "Timespan," an Emmanuele ballet for two couples set to the Adagio from Saint-Saens' Third Symphony, which had been premiered at the Hamburg, Opera. It was seen by Patricia Berrend, a Washington Ballet dancer, who told director Mary Day about it. Hence the present Washington production.
Emmanuele is in Washington now to mount his ballet and dance one of its chief roles. In the meantime, he has quit the Hamburg troupe, and started singing and dancing in a German-language version of the musical "Chicago," an engagement he'll return to after the Washington performance.