Dayton Ballet welcomes new dancers.
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik
Remember the first day of your high school freshman year? You were a little excited, a little nervous, a little,
well . . . nauseous.
Sure, being the new kid on the block can be tough, but it can also mean big opportunities. For five new dancers at Dayton Ballet it couldn’t feel like any less than just that.
“The mix of new energy and veteran energy brings out the very best in people,” Dayton Ballet artistic director Dermot Burke said last month. “The veterans get the opportunity to mentor as well as take the role as an example of appropriate professionalism. The new dancers are in a rich culture that can help them develop quickly as well as correctly. It is an amazing experience when it all works the way it is supposed to.
Joining Dayton Ballet for the 2010-11 season are company members Will Hoppe and Analise Woller; apprentice, Jesse Cooper; and trainees, Marcia Hetrick and Abby Phillips.
“I absolutely love the company,” said Philips, who most recently trained with Ballet Americana in her hometown of Taylor, Michigan before moving to Dayton. “The first day I walked into class, I was actually pretty nervous, but the company members immediately introduced themselves and made me feel like part of the Dayton family.”
Woller couldn’t agree more with Phillips, adding, “After spending a few weeks with this wonderful group of people, my impression of everyone has only grown in admiration. Not only is the company comprised of extremely talented artists, but also fantastic people who I feel I can already call my friends.”
The new members’ resounding acknow-ledgement of the veteran company members’ willingness to accept them into their “Dayton family” points directly at the positive attitude within the company. After all, big changes can be viewed as difficult for all parties involved, especially, given the departure of several veteran company members last season.
“Dermot really takes in all of our talents to create a well-rounded professional ballet company,” said second-year trainee Gabrielle Sharp, who has been working with Dayton Ballet and its school since she was 11 years old. “I am very blessed to be in his company.”
Like Sharp, all of the new members agreed that Dayton Ballet’s dance technique and style stand out from the other companies with which they have worked.
“The movement style is challenging and leaves a lot of room for artistic expression,” said Hoppe, who has performed professionally with companies like Ohio Ballet and Ballet Gamonet Maximum Dance. “I look forward to growing artistically as well as technically.”
Hetrick said she also appreciates close-knit feel of rehearsals and classes, allowing more personal time for her to improve her performance.
“I like the hardworking, small company atmosphere,” she said. “Because of the small size of the company, it is possible to get attention and corrections on a daily basis which is extremely encouraging and helpful.”
That emphasis on technique, of course, is what prepares the dancers for the stage which is the main thing they all can’t seem to stop chatting about.
“Each performance has something to get excited about,” Hoppe said. “Getting to do more contemporary work is what I look forward to (for this season).”
The company has performances of Casanova and Eve of Frankenstein, The Nutcracker, A Streetcar Named Desire and New Music for New Dance scheduled for the current season.
It’s a solid lineup to say the least with New Music for New Dance standing out as one of the performances the new company members are most excited to bring to
“I am looking forward to New Music for New Dance,” Hetrick said. “Because I grew up in a very musical home, I love to see musicians and dancers collaborate. It will be a great learning experience for everyone involved – composers, choreographers, and dancers alike.”
Jesse Cooper said when it comes to New Music for New Dance he is most looking forward to the opportunity to be one of the dancers a choreographer will use to set his or her piece, rather than simply learning parts other dancers have also done in the past.
As for the city, the dancers are still in exploration mode, discovering what Dayton has to offer, not yet at a place where they can identify a favorite restaurant or coffee shop. Some have had a chance to explore the Oregon District and agree that it’s “artsy and fun,” while others have had a chance to visit local events, such as Urban Nights.
Hoppe said one of his favorite city highlights is the view from his apartment.
“Dayton really is a beautiful city,” he said. “I’m still getting acquainted with all the city has to offer.”
Getting acquainted is exactly the first step between change and routine. Just like you felt a sense of ease, a bit of triumph, when you met a friendly face or finally had your freshman class schedule down pat, Dayton Ballet’s newest dancers will, too. As the season presses forward and the soul of the company and the city become second nature, it will feel as customary, in fact, as sophomore year.
For more information about the Dayton Ballet, call (937) 449-5060 or visit online at www.DaytonBallet.org
Reach DCP dance
critic Caroline Shannon-Karasik at email@example.com