The Regional Dance America Festival is a breathtaking event! There are over 500 students from across the Western and Pacific states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Utah, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, who participate in classes and seminars, and who perform nightly for an audience of their peers. It's amazing. 4 days of intensity that will stay with us forever!
This year, the Festival was held in Richland, Washington, at the Mid-Columbia Ballet, Debra Rogo, artistic director. And the Ballet Idaho Youth Ensemble was an important part of the Festival!
Ballet Idaho Youth Ensemble was represented by me, Racheal Nole, our dancers Julia Dunlop, Sarah and Mary Ann Meyers, Nell Rollins, Kristina Zimmerman. Sarah Ellis, from the professional company , participated as a dancer and did extremely well in all her classes. In addition, we had Kathryn "The Great" Zimmerman, Michelle Meyers and Patricia Dunlop as chaperons . Everyone had a fabulous time. It was a totally eye-opening experience!
These students are very committed to their dancing, their training, their art. Each student strives to give their best. It's amazing to see so many people in class working hard to do better, dance more fully, perfect their craft and art.
In addition to all the students, we teachers got to see each other's classes and compare notes on technique and training. That was very valuable. I taught three classes over the four days and spoke with all the other teachers about how we approach technique, style, musicality, the perfection of a dancer. We all had important contributions to make.
The RDA Festival was spread over two hotels and we occupied 6 studios simultaneously teaching, coaching, lecturing all day long. The students were very busy every day, learning and absorbing. We had fabulous pianists in all our classes --- from New York, Seattle, all over the map. The talent level was amazing and our girls from Ballet Idaho got to see for themselves the level that's out there. Our girls stood out technically and artistically. It was so gratifying for me to see how well our students did compared to everyone else.
We were in the midst of incredibly talented dancers and it was a huge boost for our girls to see where they stand. No one came away unaffected by the size of the experience.
Meals were provided by the RDA Festival and I have to thank Debra Rogo and her sister, Gaye, who direct the Mid Columbia Ballet in Richland and who coordinated over 500 people in various and complex groupings. How they kept it all together I'll never know, but it all went off without a hitch. It's like a gathering of the United Nations, there are so many people, so many different needs and agendas.
All the parents, chaperons, teachers, musicians, were thrilled with this event. One of the best things that happened was the awarding of prizes on the last night, at a Gala Dinner event. Lots of scholarships were given for different school's summer intensive programs. But at one point, Diane Lauridsen, one of the directors, silenced the audience with a major announcement: For the first time in RDA history, a professional contract as an apprentice was being offered to one of the students: Brooke Frandsen was offered a job with BALLET IDAHO!! We were stunned as the whole audience cheered in joy! And we were gratified that we were the only group in the entire Festival attached to a professional company. As one participant told me during the dinner, "You better be prepared next year for all these graduating girls to pound down your door looking for jobs!" That was so great to hear.
Ballet Idaho made a tremendous impression on the last night and we now proudly take our place as part of RDA Festival. Next year we go on to Las Vegas as full members.
I can't wait for the next Festival. Our Ensemble will be bigger and better than ever and we will make an important contribution to the Festival. More than that, our students will enjoy this rare opportunity to show what we can accomplish in Idaho and show their own special talents and artistry.
All in all, a great event and one of the highlights of this year's Ensemble life!
Thanks, everyone, for being so great, supporting your children, making Ballet Idaho great!!!
Three teenagers, two mothers, two ballet teachers, Racheal Nole and myself and Ballet Idaho’s Artistic Director, Peter Anastos, take a road trip to Richland, WA. While the scenery was great, the purpose was a four day dance-filled adventure. I accompanied five young dancers, and three very supportive mothers, from the Ballet Idaho Ensemble to Regional Dance America’s Pacific Region Festival, hosted by Mid-Columbia Ballet. I attended Festivals in the Southwest region for years and was eager to share the experience with the students. On the car ride there I tried to encourage homework and studying, as they would most likely sleep the whole way back (I was right), but instead we played cards. My family took many road trips and balancing the deck on a cooler and reaching back and forth over the seats was a familiar episode. We checked-in to the hotels with little time to un-pack before the first performance. The Festival‘s opening ceremony included introducing the faculty and we vocally expressed our support for Peter and Rachel. Classes began at 8:30 am the next morning and continued till 5:00 pm. I did my best to keep up with the young dancers. Our students shined beautiful in their classes. It was a great pleasure to watch them with new instructors. Every dancer’s history of training and performing varies from person to person, and it is this constant stream of new experiences and details, from one life to the next, that contribute to training artists.
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The Ballet Idaho Youth Ensemble continues its 2009/2010 tour performing three shows at two Boise area schools last Friday, May 7th. It was a long day for the dancers who performed two shows of Moving Through Time, choreographed by Ballet Idaho Artistic Director, Peter Anastos, at Trail Wind Elementary. This Ballet shows the evolution of Ballet technique and dance styles over the last 200 years, including excerpts from classic Ballets such as Giselle, La Bayadere, Swan Lake, and other famous Ballet variations. The Trail Wind Elementary students were especially enthralled by the stories of super-natural creatures, spirits and ghosts, and the Romantic idea of undying love and the torment of the unobtainable.
They ended the day at Riverstone International School performing the timeless classic, Peter and the Wolf, choreographed by Ballet Idaho Ballet Master, Alex Ossadnik. This performance also includes a demonstration of the meticulous training dancers undergo to obtain Ballet technique and rhythm. The students thoroughly enjoyed the interaction as they were taught some of these techniques and allowed to follow along with the dancer’s demonstration.
The Ballet Idaho Youth Ensemble will end its 2009/2010 tour May 28th at Collister Elementary performing Moving Through Time.
We look forward to another great year of bringing dance, artistry, and culture to Boise and surrounding area students. A big THANK YOU to our Ensemble dancers and their parents for all of their commitment, dedication, and hard work to make this Outreach Program possible!
Ballet Idaho Upper Level Academy students are invited to join the Ensemble by filling out the Ensemble Membership Request Form included in the Pre-Registration packet for the 2010/2011 Academic year. For information on rehearsal schedules, performance dates, and Ensemble requirements and fees, you may refer to the current Student Handbook or contact Ballet Idaho at #343-0556.
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Forget about Dancing with the Stars! There is simply NOTHING like dancing with the Boise Philharmonic!
What a fantastic time we had performing with the Phil this past weekend, both at the Morrison Center in Boise and Swayne Auditorium in Nampa. The dancers were thrilled being so close to the musicians, who were seated onstage. The sound was immediate, vibrant, LOUD!, and it made us all keep together as performers, which is not the same feeling when they're in the pit. The dancers and musicians could actually see each other and it was really fun.
Robert Franz was so welcoming to the dancers. He was sensitive to tempi, kept asking if things were allright, kept a very vigilant eye on the choreography and what the dancers needed. We can't wait for him to conduct our Nutcracker this year.
Fun was certainly the order of the day --- and I hope we brought a sense of humor to the Philharmonic audiences. They're already pretty hip, being used to the way Robert introduces pieces of music. He's a hoot! So when we started our antics in both ballets, they were ready for us. Attentive, kind, smart, the Philharmonic audience was with us at every step --- and didn't miss a single choreographic "punch-line."
We HAVE to do this again --- but don't worry --- Robert and Alex and I are already plotting something BIG as a collaboration for the future. Stay tuned....
As Ballet Idaho dancers prepare for their showcase, Ballet Innovations, it is exciting to watch the process of growth and understanding of each dancer through their choreography. Dancers are, what I call "action artists." They express their creativity through every movement and muscle in their body. Each one has their own style and idea of feeling. I feel that choreographing is opening yourself, your creativity, your style and your raw emotions. It is the difference between talking and singing.
Having studied art and music my entire young life, I found myself instantly comfortable when choreographing. I am partial to the classical ballet style, mostly because that movement works best with my body and, hence, I can make more sense of it when choreographing. My piece, Cercio, is set to the beautiful monotony of a cycle, but the power and force that erupts when it is broken.
I am very excited to have the opportunity to set my vision on such a beautiful and talented group of dancers. It is a rare occurence for one to choreograph on a professional company, none the less, a valuable learning experience for any young dancer.
Robert Ryan Callan
It started in a conference room. Eleven dancers sitting around the table and one on the phone. It’s Monday, our day off. We haggle over casting and in about an hour we have 12 choreographers with cast lists and preliminary schedules in hand geared up to go to work. We thought we had this all under control. That is how work on Ballet Innovations was started.
I soon found out it wasn’t as easy as we all hoped. My first inclination came that Tuesday. We are all set to start rehearsing and one of the dancers notices that she is scheduled to be in two places at once. All dancers try to conquer the impossible but that is one feat even we can’t manage. I quickly come up with a solution and go see Alex, our Balletmaster, to approve the change. This is when it hit me how demanding producing this show would be. Alex turns to me and in his very frank east German way he says, “Michael, why don’t I give you authority to make all schedules.”
The ensuing two weeks became a whirlwind of scheduling, choreographing, rehearsing, costuming, light designing, and dancing. Our company of 23 is creating twelve ballets with most dancers performing in two or three. The work load is intense but everyone stepped up to the challenge. There has never been a more exciting time at Ballet Idaho. Dance is going on all day in four studios at once. A medley of music from different composers and different genres filters into the halls. The dances themselves are all very unique ranging from strictly classical technique to contemporary movements, from solos to duets to eight synchronized ladies. The arts are truly alive at the corner of 9th and Myrtle, and the creative spark is leap-frogging throughout the building.
We are now less than a week away from our performances on May 1. Most of the choreography is done and all the dancers are getting anxious. There is a real joy in the building. We feel a sense of accomplishment. Twelve ballets in three weeks with little help from our staff. That sounds pretty great. Ballet Innovations will be presented at our in house theater inside the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy for two shows on Saturday May 1, at 2:00pm and 8:00pm. Tickets are only $10 and there will be refreshments after the eight o’clock show. We only have 200 seats for each show so buy your tickets now, and you won’t be disappointed.
Michael Dennis Dunsmore
So, I was very curious yesterday when the hallway was lined with clothing racks and storage containers. I went into the studio anticipating a rehearsal of the company preparing for this weekend’s collaborative performance with the Boise Philharmonic. To my surprise is Heather Hawk with a black gown from the mysterious lady in Cinderella and Nutcracker soldier hat. Next to her were Jared Hunt, Ryan Nye & Graham Gobeille….in white tights and Nutcracker soldier hats. What in the world? I thought they were performing La Creation du Monde by Milhaud and Divertissement by Ibert? I clarified the confusion with Artistic Director and Choreographer, Peter Anastos, who explained the choreography to Ibert’s piece is an idea of a dance company in rehearsal with a myriad of bad situations and problems. Peter’s comedic touches once again will be on stage this weekend with the Boise Philharmonic!
Tuesday’s audience for Ballet Idaho Family Series presentation of The Italian Program was truly inspiring….and dedicated! I think I officially met Ballet Idaho’s YOUNGEST audience member ever, a young gentleman born at midnight (April 5th). Reminder: our Family Series performance was at 6 pm on April 6th. Now, that’s some dedication from some loyal Family Series season ticket holders. Introducing young children to all art forms is so important and this baby was here in our auditorium to hear and watch Ballet Idaho excerpts from Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella.
It was ‘date night’ for one very special father and daughter as well. Dad came decked out in a tuxedo and his beautiful little girl was dressed to the nines in her dress and shawl with big blonde curls. Their evening was starting at the ballet and moving to dinner….how precious is this?
These moments are memorable in so many ways especially with this young lady who will remember this ‘date night’ with her daddy and will hopefully someday bring her children to see the ballet.
Our rehearsals for the Spring antipasti program had been underway for a week or so when we were scheduled to have our first day of Pulcinella antics. My legs were tired and I was ready to go home to enjoy a glass of Brunello when I realized that having a role created on me would be as wonderful as the shaved porcini salad at Antico Noe in Firenze. I decided to stay.
Pulcinella is a debonair jokester with little or no inhibitions. He succeeds in being the center of attention in perpetuity. He is helplessly doomed in attracting women and he is forever followed by his loyal clown fratelli. He prances about in his clown suit as if it were the most exclusive couture in all of Milan. I see absolutely no relationship between Andrew Taft and Pulcinella whatsoever.
The piece begins with nothing but the head of Pulcinella. His head is simple and elegant like a well-reduced Bolognese sauce. The curtain is reluctantly drawn due to the imminent frenzy among the maidens within the theater. Sadly, there is a body attached to said head... The fun ensues as the Pulcinelli take over the town and unintentionally woo all of the ladies (it's unavoidable).
Rehearsal time in the studio is always bright and the creation process is molto bene. I am reluctant in divulging too many of Pulcinella's secrets. The ballet is coming to fruition, the characters are developing and the laughter will be a wonderful thing... just like the magic that happens when basil meets mozzarella and tomato.
Ballet Idaho has a great Academy!
So many of our students are traveling to prestigious schools this summer it's a sure sign we're on the right track. David Wilcox from Long Beach Ballet came to audition for his summer course in January. Part of that program is a 3-week trip to China and he invited several of our students to join. Kirsten Jensen, Nell Rollins and Marina Russo will be taking part.
Julie Dunlop is another story: She was chosen by both David Wilcox AND Jillana for summer intensive but chose, after much thought and parental input, to go to Jillana's School in Taos, NM. Jillana is an extraordinary person. She was one of the stars of New York City Ballet in the 1950s and 60s and a favorite of George Balanchine. She premiered several of his most important ballets and, looking at pictures and film of her dancing, she was surely one of the most beautiful dancers he ever had! Studying with this amazing woman is a direct link to Mr. Balanchine's technique and his style. There is hardly another opportunity so rich in the ballet world today. When Jillana was here for her auditions in February, she made a special point to tell me how good our students are here at Ballet Idaho Academy. She was very flattering, which of course is a reflection on our students' hard work and discipline. She chose several to attend her summer intensive: MaryAnn and Sarah Meyers, Julia Dunlop, Cristina Zimmerman and DJ Massingale will be attending this summer. We're all eager to hear about their experiences in Taos when they come back to Boise later this summer!
Meanwhile, Youth Ensemble members Sara and Marianne Meyers, Julia Dunlop, Nell Rollins and Cristina Zimmerman will have the added experience of attending the Regional Dance America Festival in Richland, WA, this May. This is an incredible program, including over 500 students from ballet schools and pre-professional companies all over the Western states. Teachers from several different countries will be giving ballet classes, there will be seminars on career opportunities, mime classes, folkdance classes and lots of information being shared. This is a great opportunity for our students to see their colleagues and peers from other places and bond with them on what makes dancing and training so important and special. Our Ballet Idaho Youth Ensemble will be observing this year --- it is too early for us to perform at the prestigious Festival ---- but we can count this as our debut there and will look forward to being a performing company in years to come.
Sarah Ellis, one of our company dancers, will be joining us. She'll attend classes and seminars and be drafted as a chaperone!
Congratulations to all our fantastic students and Kudos on achieving these benchmarks in their progress with Ballet Idaho Academy.