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Returning to the Barre

I began dancing when I was three. I have vague memories of sitting in the backseat of the car captivated by my pink fairy like ensemble and dreaming of twirling and prancing around the studio. As time wore on I began to become disillusioned and found it hard to motivate myself. New passions pulled me in different directions and by the time I graduated High School I had stopped training. After a hiatus I realized that stifling my urges to dance could not be healthy. I began taking adult classes a few times a week and I soon recognized the longing that only more dance could satiate. I think it was the moment I landed a decent double pirouette. The focus, that feeling of every muscle engaging, the moment of freedom as you whip around before you manage to land as gracefully as possible, hopefully feet daintily, but firmly placed on the ground. I had become mesmerized by the intensity, beauty, creativity and power of ballet. Returning to dance has allowed me to recapture that sense of child like wonder and delight. Every class brings new challenges, realizations, defeats, triumphs, and places to be sore. Even on the days when I get discouraged, I am not on my leg, or just can’t seem to get things right I leave class with a smile. The cliché is true; those who try never regret. In these efforts are the true beauty of dance and the vitality of life. By: Hannah Dunlop

Halloween Costume Party Thank You!

A HUGE thank you goes to the numerous volunteers, staff, donors and participants of the first-annual Halloween Costume Party held Saturday, October 24th at the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy. A dedicated team of volunteers spent many days collecting and assembling decorations, carving pumpkins and preparing treats to make the Ballet Idaho offices SPOOKY and FUN! Ballet villains walked amongst the crowd and the participants paraded in costumes for prizes during the costume parade. A special thank you goes out to the Parent Guild, Michelle Meyers, Patricia Dunlop, Julie Houk, Caren DeAngelis, Maria Zarco, Theresa Rodie, Monica Fabbi, Tom Tompkins, Erik Meyers & Dennis Dunlop for helping organize this event. CONGRATULATIONS to our winners in best costume, scariest costume and the most original costume! Finally, THANK YOU to the 2009 Halloween Costume Party sponsors Michelle & Erik Meyers! [flickr-gallery mode="photoset" photoset="72157622796974348"]

Who Says Brothers & Sisters Can't Get Along?

Ballet Idaho Academy Students and Performers in The Nutcracker Ballet Idaho: Who are you and how old are you? Brenna: My name is Brenna Houk and I am 11 ½. Sebastian: My name is Sebastian Houk and I am 10. Ballet Idaho: Tell me something interesting about you: Brenna: I was the only 5th grade girl from my school to make it to the 2009 Boise Elementary City Track Meet, spring 2009 – where I ran the 800 meter race; I also play the flute; love food (especially ice cream and sushi); love doing art; and am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Sebastian: At age 7, Sebastian summited Idaho’s highest mountain, Borah Peak (12,662 ft.) with his Dad; he is learning to play the trumpet; he runs and cycles; loves ice cream and pizza; and is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Ballet Idaho: When did you start dancing? Brenna: I started dance classes at age 3 at Methods of Movement in Mountain Home, ID. Sebastian: This is Sebastian's third year of ballet training. He started at BI in the fall of 2007. Brenna invited Sebastian to her class during "Bring a Friend Week." Ballet Idaho: Have you ever performed in the Nutcracker before? Where? Brenna: I performed previously in Ballet Idaho's The Nutcracker. Sebastian: I performed in The Nutcracker last year with BI (The NEW Nutcracker). Ballet Idaho: Tell us about your experience at the Audition Brenna: The audition was easy. It was a lot like last year, so I knew what to expect. Sebastian: Auditions were great. They were easy and very different from last year. Ballet Idaho: How are rehearsals going? Brenna: Some kids are getting the choreography really well. Rehearsals are going well. Since I'm Clara, it puts some pressure on me since that is one of the main roles and everyone expects you to pick it up. Overall, it is going well in both Clara and Bakers. Sebastian: Some kids are getting the choreography really well. Ballet Idaho: How do you feel about being real-life brother and sister and on stage brother & sister?Brenna: Well, it's cool, because he gets in trouble more in The Nutcracker, and we don't have to pretend we are related. Also, I don't know any other siblings that are real life brother and sister who are pretending to be brother and sister in the Nutcracker, and we both do ballet in the same ballet class. Sebastian: I think it’s really awesome that we are brother and sister in real life and in The Nutcracker. [flickr-gallery mode="photoset" photoset="72157622673019781"]

Nutcracker Tickets On Sale Monday!

Tickets go on sale Monday, November 2nd for Ballet Idaho’s holiday classic, The Nutcracker. Ballet Idaho continues the classic holiday tradition and is pleased to present The Nutcracker this December. With extraordinary choreography, beautiful sets and costumes, this will celebrate the season in dazzling fashion — a joyful and elegant Holiday Party, a Christmas Garland Dance, a whimsical mechanical mouse and a magical growing Christmas tree along with a large and enthusiastic cast of young dancers and singers from throughout the Treasure Valley. Tchaikovsky’s classic score will be performed live by the Boise Philharmonic. Join us to celebrate Ballet Idaho's holiday family favorite on December 11, 12, and 13 at the Morrison Center. The Nutcracker children’s casts have been announced and young dancers from all over the Treasure Valley are preparing and rehearsing for Ballet Idaho’s classic holiday tradition. This year cast features a real-life brother and sister duo that will perform the roles of brother and sister, Fritz and Clara, in the production. Additionally, the young ladies dancing Clara in both casts, are perhaps the youngest dancers to be cast in that role in a professional company. Single tickets start at just $20 and range to $50 and are available through any Select-A-Seat outlet, by calling 426-1110 or visiting For more information, call the Ballet Idaho office, 343-0556.

Our First Program and Onward

Our first program is finished, and it was a lot of fun. A big thank you to everyone who attended. Pieces like Swan Lake, Idaho and Yes, Virginia don’t work if we can’t interact with the audience. For the opening night of Yes, Virginia I was nervous that I was going to step out on the stage, do something silly, and the audience wasn’t going to respond. That was not the case, and for the whole weekend I had a blast joking with everyone seated in the auditorium and being inspired by the jovial energy at the theater. Our first program was a great example of why I love being a performer. It is an incredibly rewarding experience to entertain and bring joy to others. Now we dancers are on a short break before we head full force into The Nutcracker. As much as I love dancing, this down time allows me to expand my creativity in other directions. I use some time to make graphic designs often creating ads and mailers for political campaigns. I also like to spend time on some of my favorite hobbies like painting miniature figures or hiking in this beautiful Idaho landscape. However, a dancer is never far from the studio, and you’ll usually find me downtown putting on my dance shoes at least once a day. As we move into the holiday season the company will start rehearsing for The Nutcracker. We are very excited to not only be performing at the Morrison Center this December, but also to be going on The New Ballet Idaho’s first tour when we will be presenting The Nutcracker in Billings over Thanksgiving weekend. I can’t wait to share some of the magic and joy of the holidays with our community very soon. Michael Dennis Dunsmore Dancer with Ballet Idaho Joined the Company in 2008

The Reality of Professionalism

As children’s rehearsals for The Nutcracker progress, I would like to address the reality of working with a professional company, a reality that includes especially our younger cast members: There is no such thing as “meanness” and “embarrassment”. Once rehearsal starts there is only the work to be done as efficiently as possible. When there are multiple casts, at first it is possible that only one cast will be used to set the choreography, once the choreography is being rehearsed, all others will be brought up to speed. The priority is to set the production as fast as possible, in order to have sufficient time to make every single child on stage look like a million dollars. There is absolutely no reason to “feel bad” about not having danced in rehearsal at this point. This might well be the first “real life” experience and as parents you can help your child understand that once cast in a show, even if things change there is nothing wrong with them or with Ballet Idaho. It is a simple matter of process, which is the same all over the world. This is THE Nutcracker production in the state of Idaho. It is a privilege to be a cast member no matter how small the part. 10,000 people are expected to attend this year, this is a big deal and therefore also an obligation to deal with the reality of professionalism.

What a great turnout for “Dress Rehearsal!”

Ballet Idaho’s inaugural “Dress Rehearsal” Fashion Show Fundraiser was a smashing SOLD-OUT success, held last Friday, October 9th at the Linen Building. Company dancers and professional models strutted down the runway in fashions from several downtown Boise and Eagle boutiques. The evening was all about the answer the age-old question: Whatever shall I wear to the ballet? It was presented in four tiers: the matinee, the date night, the gala and the runway finale featuring beautiful vintage gowns donated by ballet patrons that were then placed for silent auction. A huge thank you to Clothesline Cleaners, who hand-restored and cleaned all of the garments for this segment. Many generous merchants donated items for the silent auction including area professional arts organizations, R Grey Jewelers, Jos A. Bank Clothiers, Hotel 43, Michael Todd, Monkey Doos, Chandlers Steakhouse, Bogus Basin, Goldy’s Breakfast Bistro, to mention only a few. KTVB’s News Channel 7 reporter, Alyson Outen, emceed this fabulous event and the evening was completed with a short performance of Footage on the runway by Ballet Idaho company dancers Phyllis Rothwell Affrunti and Ryan Nye. Special thanks to our Co-Chairs, Angie Berman and Lana Hollingshead, “Dress Rehearsal” sponsor Ethan Allen and the many vendors, boutiques and patrons who generously donated items to make this first-time event a success! With Friday night’s outstanding feedback, this is sure to be an annual event for Ballet Idaho! Looking forward to next year!

The "Friends" Studio

Ballet Idaho has kicked off the new 2009-2010 season with the opening of the Academy and the Nutcracker Auditions. We are gearing up now for our first performance and setting the stage for the rest of the year! As I say all this, I can only think about how much help we need to carry out everything we want to do. With that being said I want to invite you to become a friend of Ballet Idaho. As a "friend" you play a crucial role in ensuring the continued vitality of Ballet Idaho by participating in fundraising events, dance advocacy and other activities that keep our non-profit going! There are small jobs and then there are definitely some larger production tasks that require a volunteer base that is insurmountable. Your commitment big or small means so much to us. So if you have something to offer, even if it's just one day, or a few hours. We have lots of different opportunities, check out the list below and give us a call! Family Series—Take tickets for our pre-performance of Swan Lake Idaho on September29th, 2009 Performances—Each year Ballet Idaho performs Ballet Idaho Boutique- Merchandise is sold at our performances, and we need volunteers to assist with sales. Dance Academy—Ballet Idaho's academy has a number of meetings, rehearsals, performances, etc. that occur throughout the year Nutcracker—During the Nutcracker auditions, rehearsals and performances, volunteers assist with registration, chaperoning and food. This is our largest production and requires the most volunteers for. It is lots of fun to be behind the scenes during such a huge event and see what it takes to pull it off. We need you help! Without you itwouldn't happen. Fundraising Events—Serve on an events committee, assist with auctions, work at the event, serve as a table captain, or assist with invitations and other mailings. These are always fun! Check our website for upcoming events.
    Well, I think that wraps it up for today. We would love to have you as a "Friend" of our Ballet and the Academy. For more information and to sign up for any of our events. Just give us a shout. We can never have too many volunteers. Thanks, Durea

    Swan Lake, Idaho!

    Swan Lake, Idaho! Who would have thunk it? Since I saw my first Swan Lake, oh, about 45 years ago, I have always found the scene with the Hunters, the beginning of Act II, to be unfinished. They appear in nearly every production of Swan Lake all over the world, but who are they? Are they just the Prince's friends or are they out hunting swans all the time? Are they freelancing or do they belong to a Rod and Gun Club? Finally, I arrived in Idaho and saw a golden opportunity to make sense of these characters. In most productions they just bumble in and out, puzzled and frightened by the beautiful swan maidens, shut down by the Prince from killing them (because he has fallen in love with the Swan Queen, and you don't want to hurt her feelings, do you?) So for Ballet Idaho I see a chance to validate the hunters by making them modern day camo-warriors. I salute the 21st century Idaho Hunter and unite him with the 19th century romantic Swans of Swan Lake. What a match! And in our production, they stand out not only for their bravery, but for their emotions. You see, in this version, the hunters ALL fall in love with Swans (why should the Prince have all the fun?) and, in fact, in a kind of reverse Stockholm Syndrome arrangement, the Hunters begin to take on characteristics of their former prey. They become swans! It's Eco-Friendly!

    Ballet Idaho 2009 Nutcracker Auditions

    Nutcracker Auditions without a hitch. Do you think this is a miracle? Well, it happened in Boise yesterday. We had nearly 100 children come to Ballet Idaho's Nutcracker audition and it was a splendid success. We found terrific talent, wonderful kids who eagerly took on the challenge of performing roles in our production. Everyone was so bright, friendly, fearless and enthusiastic. We had Mice so eager to scare us! We had Soldiers marching and running through their drills. We had beautiful and polite party children who expressed the warmth of a Christmas evening. We had delightful Bakers, eager to show us their leaps. And we had energetic Sailors and Serene Angels, all ready to make this year's Nutcracker better than ever. Nearly everyone was cast and we ended our auditions with a tremendous feeling of pride and happiness. Thanks to all the children and their wonderful parents, who spent a day with us at Ballet Idaho yesterday and went home happy. My favorite moment was overhearing a Mom in the parking lot, joyously and loudly telling a family member through her cell-phone: "SHE'S GONNA BE IN THE NUTCRACKER!!!"
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