Friday, August 26, 2011

Goodbye For Now

Well, my summer at BalletMet is coming to a close, and while I’m delighted to be entering my last semester of college, I’m also sad to leave such a great work environment. Today, I read over my introductory blog entry which I posted on the first week of my internship, and I’m pleased to say that my expectations of and attitude towards BalletMet have not changed. I still stand by that BalletMet is different from anywhere that I ever have and probably ever will work. The atmosphere is relaxed I feel like people work at BalletMet because they want to, not because they have to. I felt this more than ever when the company returned to begin rehearsing for the upcoming season. I realized that everyone who works in the office upstairs is involved in projects to ensure that everyone downstairs (the company dancers, academy students, and artistic director, Gerard Charles) can continue to flex their creativity, perform spectacularly, and do what they love. Being a dancer myself and seeing so many having to quit because they didn’t have the time or the money to continue, I found this aspect of BalletMet particularly special.

I have a similar state of mind. This internship has not been just a resume builder for me, but an actual beneficial experience for where I’d like to go in life. I’ve found that opportunities like this are very hard to come across. Most classes, seminars, etc. that I’ve attended have vaguely described how to “make it” in the real world. This internship has immersed me in exactly how a ballet company and academy are run, how they reach their subscribers and fans, and how they organize their operations. Sure I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time scanning, printing, and stuffing envelopes; I am an intern after all! But while I was doing those things I was also observing others and their projects, which has been most beneficial. I feel as though there’s still a lot for me to learn; if I were at BalletMet during the actual season I can imagine I would have a completely different set of tasks to complete. But for now, I will take the knowledge that this internship has given me and use it as best I can. Thanks for having me, BalletMet!!!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Good Wine, Great Shoes

What better way to spend an evening than with shoes, wine, and ballet! Thanks to Mary Weiler, a dedicated BalletMet board member, women in Columbus have the chance to do just that. The group is called Women Wine for Shoes and they are wonderful supporters of the ballet. Their cause is shoes, shoes, and more shoes; raising money for the BalletMet Shoe Fund. After all, pointe shoes are pricey and each female BalletMet dancer needs 40 every season (That’s about 620 pairs total).

Inspired by other local social support organizations for non-profits, the concept behind Women Wine for Shoes is that women of all ages get together twice a year for a fun-filled cocktail party followed by a BalletMet performance, and make a donation to the Shoe Fund. This season they will attend Carmen in November, and Jazz Moves Columbus in February. To learn more about those shows, go here.

Weiler started this organization several years ago with about 80 guests at the first party and the numbers have been growing since. But the women who attend are not solely philanthropic in their motives, many of them are happy for the opportunity to go to the ballet with people of similar taste. Weiler says:

“During my time on the Ballet Board, I have found many women who would like to attend the Ballet, but don't have anyone with whom to go. Women Who Wine for
Shoes solves that problem! The women who attend are very diverse and of all age groups.”

Weiler hopes that this organization will expand in the future to fundraise and build events that support BalletMet, but we’ll need your help to do that. If you’ve been looking for a companion at the ballet, go here to learn more about Women Wine for Shoes. To become a member, you need only attend one event.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Keep it Local

To present a memorable and spectacular ballet, a show must not only consist of dance, but integrate the other art forms. Music and dance have an apparent harmonious relationship with one another and BalletMet embraces that connection, joining forces with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, and even the OSU Marching Band in the past. The art of fashion makes an appearance at every BalletMet performance, thanks to the talented hands at our costume shop. And this spring, BalletMet is collaborating with the Wexner Center for the Arts to present DanceTech, a multi-media event showcasing the art of technology.

But for BalletMet’s next endeavor, we’re calling on YOU to provide the art. BalletMet presents OnDemand this September and will be displaying the work of local Columbus artists at the performances. It’s fitting that we are reaching out to the public for this presentation because OnDemand will consist of previously performed, fan-favorite pieces voted on by the community. BalletMet is letting go of the wheel completely and putting Columbus in charge of this show. To learn more about OnDemand and buy tickets go here.

This is a great opportunity for artists in the community to showcase and sell their work to the vast and varied subscribers and fans of BalletMet. We are still accepting submissions so if you want your work to be seen, email the following to Becca Misselwitz at no later than August 26th.

-Digital photograph of piece
-Title of Piece
-Artist name, email address, and phone number
-Approximate measurements of piece
-Mounting requirements for piece

These submissions can be in any medium, any style, and do not need to be dance related. Each artist can submit up to five pieces. For more information on this opportunity go here.

We look forward to seeing what Columbus has to offer and celebrating the arts a whole!


Friday, July 29, 2011

What I Did On Summer Break...

Just because the BalletMet season hasn’t started yet, doesn’t mean that our dancers haven’t been keeping busy. Recently I had a chance to connect with Adrienne Benz (pictured left), who is returning for her ninth season with BalletMet, to discuss how she’s been spending her summer. Adrienne was lucky enough to be asked by Darrell Moultrie to perform in his piece at Summer Stage in New York City. Summer Stage is a spectacular event set up in Central Park with a fun outdoor concert vibe that spans the entirety of the summer and is free to the public. For those of you who have never heard the name Darrell Moultrie, get to know it. Moultrie is quickly becoming one of the most sought after choreographers, doing everything from Broadway to ballet to commercials. Learn more about Moultrie here.

“Melting Pot” is the name of Moultrie’s Summer Stage performance and is a collection of ensemble pieces meant to resemble his personal experiences growing up. This is not the first time Adrienne has collaborated with Moultrie; BalletMet has been lucky enough to have him choreograph a piece called “Square Off” in 2008, “Simply Sammy” in the American Legends production in 2010, and “Wrath” as part of 7 Deadly Sins this past April. Of Moultrie, Adrienne says:

"Darrell has a crazy energy in the studio and I feel like we bonded the minute we worked together…his choreography feels comfortable to me but somehow he always seems to put a new twist on his work!"

This experience also allowed Adrienne to collaborate with a “melting pot” of dancers from all over the country who are a part of Dance Grand Moultrie, a new pick-up company using dancers that Moultrie loves whenever they are available. Summer Stage was their premier company performance. Check out more of Moultrie’s choreography here.

But it wasn’t all work and no play for Miss Benz. Being a New Jersey native, she was able to catch up with friends and family during her New York trip, and earlier this year she got married! Congratulations to Adrienne on all her accomplishments. We’re glad to have her back in Columbus!

What do you think about Adrienne’s experience? Have you seen any of Moultrie’s work before?


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

This Summer is Getting Intense!

The BalletMet Summer Intensive is in full swing this week. For 4-5 weeks, young dancers are thrown into an experience that will better them not only as dancers, but as people. Obviously, the Summer Intensive focuses on improving each student’s physical ability. A typical day in the life of a BalletMet dancer begins around 8:30 when they arrive at the studio to warm-up. Throughout the day, they’ll take about six classes. These classes include, modern, jazz, Pilates, flamenco, yoga, and of course ballet.

What sets BalletMet’s Summer Intensive Program apart from others is its outreach beyond just dance. BalletMet believes in “training the whole dancer”. This means not only improving their technique, but developing skills they will need should they choose a career in dance. Classes that address these skills include injury prevention, proper pointe-shoe fitting, acting, and make-up. BalletMet has a very important partnership with The Ohio State University that allows Intensive students to go through an assessment which measures their physical imbalances and provides exercises to fix them. This is the same assessment the BalletMet Company dancers go through. On top of that, BalletMet’s students participate in a number of “enrichment” classes that will prepare them for life regardless what they do in the future including self-defense, nutrition, and interviewing skills. The faculty is also a key player in creating the BalletMet experience. Maybe it’s the Midwestern attitude, but the people behind this program make a point to get to know each student, and make themselves easily available if those students encounter a problem.

When the Summer Intensive students leave, they will come away with so much more than just a better sense of how to execute a triple pirouette; they will have become responsible adults. After all, these are future dancers who will carry on the name of BalletMet. Some may even find themselves a job in a familiar place, like Jimmy Orrante, Annie Mallonee, Samantha Lewis, and Olivia Clark who are all BalletMet Company dancers who once spent their summer in the BalletMet Summer Intensive Program.

BalletMet Summer Intensive 2011 in Numbers:

Number of students: 114
Number of male students: 3
Youngest student: 11
Oldest student: 20
Number of students not yet old enough to drive: 43
Number of states represented: 22
Total approximate miles traveled: 52,597
Number of students from Ohio: 65
Number of students from the Columbus area: 47
Average number of classes taken per day: 6
Approximate hours spent dancing per week: 35 (that’s almost a full-time job!)

What do you think about these numbers? Are you surprised at how many local students there are?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Let's Go To The Movies

Last week the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) launched their Annual Summer Move Series in which they play a line up of beloved films at the Ohio Theatre over the course of the summer. They are showing true classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and Gone with the Wind, as well as more modern cult favorites such as Fight Club. I was pleased to see a strong list of musical movies among CAPA’s list, such as West Side Story, Funny Girl, The Sound of Music, and The Wizard of Oz. I love that these movies have continued to capture the attention of audiences in all age groups. Even the technology-driven kids of today know the words to “Do Re Mi,” and enjoy these movies despite their lack of CGI.

However, popular opinion dictates that none of these movies would survive today, but I beg to differ. Looking at pop culture over the past 50 years, musicals (and more specifically dance) have certainly evolved. Yet they continue to be loved. West Side Story stands out as a revolutionary movie in terms of bringing stylized dance into the mainstream in the 60’s. Then John Travolta single handedly made it cool to be a male dancer in the 70’s. There was an obvious spike of interest in dance in the 80’s with Footloose and Dirty Dancing. Even the 90’s had everyone moving with the “Macarena” and those catchy boy band dance moves. In the new millennium, the lines have blurred between musicals, movies, dance, and radio music. People are searching for a perfect hybrid of all these elements; a musical version of their favorite movie written by a top 40 artist and performed by the casts of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance.

I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. The performing arts are always evolving but they are always loved. Today, technology is dictating how we are exposed to art, but true talent still reigns. We can digitally alter Natalie Portman’s body into the most perfect arabesque, and auto-tune the kids of Glee, but it’s never quite as impressive as knowing that someone can actually do those things live without the assistance of technology. Look at how many videos there are on YouTube of one person sitting in front of their computer playing guitar or premiering their original choreography or executing 27 consecutive pirouettes. People want to see talent, and it is clear that that will never change.

What’s your stance on this matter? Has there been a dance movie in recent years that really moved you with its talent, or one that disappointed you with its lack there of?


Monday, June 20, 2011

In The Summertime...

The summer is finally here and I have officially begun my marketing internship at BalletMet. Much like the little campers I pass in the lobby, I am excited, anxious, eager, and most importantly thrilled to be surrounded by dance. To give a brief summary of who I am, my name is Colleen and I am a senior at Otterbein University with a major in International Studies, minors in both French and Dance, and a strong focus on Business (I know. It’s a mouthful). I began dancing when I was 4 years old in Philadelphia and have been in love with it since that first class. My mother and I had season tickets to the Pennsylvania Ballet for years, and dance has remained the one reassuring constant in my ever-changing life.

As I’ve grown up, I have realized that not everyone finds that one thing that they’re passionate about. It is clear to me, that whatever I do, it must be related to dance; and that is how I found myself here at BalletMet. Already, I can tell that the atmosphere of this company is so different from anywhere else that I ever have and ever will work. It’s obvious that the surroundings support creativity, not like the cluttered and fluorescently lit environment of a typical office job or even worse, retail. The people have been overwhelmingly friendly (something I am still not accustomed to after growing up in Philadelphia) and I could not feel more welcome.

I can tell that the next few months are going to be a great learning experience. Already on my first day I got to sit in on a strategy meeting which immediately immersed me in the inner workings of BalletMet. Although everything is still so new, I’m not nearly as overwhelmed as I thought I would be. In fact, I feel downright comfortable here.

Look forward to my future entries on my summer here, preparations for the 2011-2012 season, and maybe a few updates from the Nutcracker himself!!!


Monday, June 6, 2011

BalletMet and The Lancaster Festival Orchestra Present Pinocchio

We all know the story of Pinocchio, right?

Gepetto, a woodcarver in a small Italian village, carves a wooden puppet, wishes on a star for his wooden puppet, Pinocchio, to become a real boy. The Blue Fairy brings Pinocchio to life. She gives him a cricket to be his conscience and promises that, if Pinocchio proved himself brave, truthful and unselfish, he could become a real boy. Pinocchio runs into temptations that cause him to stray from his path of bravery, truthfulness and unselfishness. Each time he lies, his nose grows. Ultimately, the tale has a happy ending, with Pinocchio being transformed into a real boy.

It’s been a book, a graphic novel, a Disney movie and now it’s a ballet!

That’s right, a ballet. Thanks to funding from PNC, BalletMet artistic director, Gerard Charles, and company dancers have teamed up with the Lancaster Festival Orchestra to bring the timeless classic to life! This world premiere production includes a beautiful musical score by Hungarian composer David Kiraly, performed by the Lancaster Festival Orchestra conducted by Gary Sheldon.

Never been to the Lancaster Festival? Neither have I, but after researching the 10-day affair, I certainly have it penciled in my planner!

Since1985, the Lancaster Festival has been a multi-faceted, 10-day event that transforms the historic city of Lancaster with musical performances and family activities while getting local businesses, museums and residents involved.

At the beginning of May, the company dancers, along with a couple Dance Academy students, began rehearsals for the performance. Before premiering the production on July 24th, the dancers, Gerard, Gary and the orchestra traveled to Lancaster-area high schools to introduce the ballet and festival to the students.

The performance will also include local children in Lancaster, cast by Gerard. Because of the timing of the project, Gerard had to rehearse the company dancers and Dance Academy students before he even met the children in Lancaster. He plans to work with the younger children in July before the company dancers return for their final week of rehearsals.

Gerard explained, in an email, the he is building the work modularly. He says:

“This has been a good opportunity for us to re-connect to the Lancaster Festival, a place we have danced in history, but not recently. It also offers some more employment to some dancers and gives us the opportunity to develop a children's story ballet that may have a life beyond the festival.”

The world premiere performance will take place at Fairfield Union High School on July 24th with show times at 1:30 and 7:00. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Funnest Week of the Year

All urges to correct my grammatical error aside, June 13-17 really is the funnest week of the year according to Christina Rogers, managing director of The Dance Academy and director of BalletMet’s SummerDance Camp.

This year, to encourage students to dance the day away, BalletMet is presenting Step In Time! Whether it’s stepping in time with the music or stepping into a different time period, BalletMet’s SummerDance Camp offers a variety of dance genres that are sure to be a hit with dancers of any skill level. From 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, students are given the opportunity to make new friends and increase their fitness, all while having fun. Fun, friends and fitness – what could be better than that?

Despite its name, the SummerDance Camp isn’t ALL about dance. Attendees get to experience a mixture of the arts: dancing, improv acting, arts & crafts and much more. They’ll even get to view demonstrations by company dancers and learn more about visual imagery and what goes into costume design!

* * * * *

Today, I got to sit down with Sarah Wilson, a pre-professional student here at BalletMet.

(Just a little background on the pre-pro program: it’s designed for students of classical ballet who have reached an advanced level of study and are preparing to begin a career as a professional dancer.)

Anyway, I must say that she was the perfect person to speak with to get a better feel for the camp. You could say that Sarah has seen it all. She’s gone from camper to counselor and experienced everything in between.

Sarah, as a camper, in 2005.

Sarah, as a counselor, in 2010.

In case you didn’t know, in order to be a counselor for the SummerDance Camp, hopefuls must submit a resume, cover letter and references. Once Mrs. Rogers has reviewed their application, they’re interviewed. Being a counselor is no joke, people. Applicants must have a strong desire to be a part of the camp and exhibit qualities that are conducive to the overall environment.

Read on to see what Sarah has to say about her experience!

* * * * *

As a camper, what was your favorite part?

My favorite part probably was the fact that it wasn’t strict ballet. I had never done jazz or modern and I got to learn those. I also liked working with the older students who I knew. I got to meet a lot of kids that don’t actually take ballet regularly, too.

As a counselor, what was your favorite part?

I enjoy seeing the new kids each year. Seeing the transformation from Monday to Friday is incredible. The fact that they’re able to learn three different styles of dance in that time is pretty cool, too!

Will you be a counselor this year?


What would you tell parents who are on the fence about registering their kids for this year’s SummerDance Camp?

I would say that it’s a good way to get your kid out there. At SummerDance Camp, they get a little taste of everything. They’re also in good hands all day (from the counselors to the professional teachers) and they’ll be tired when they get home! At the end of the camp, they’re also able to show what they’ve learned to their parents. They can show that they got something out of it!

In five years, do you see dance still playing a major role in your life?

Hopefully, yes!

* * * * *

Love the idea of SummerDance Camp but have a kid that’s younger than 7 or older than 12? Don’t sweat it, BalletMet has something for everyone!

Check out some of the other mini-workshops that BalletMet offers:

Singular Sensation
6:30 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.
@ BalletMet
Ages 13-16

Love to sing? Love to dance? This is for you! Every little step you take becomes part of your repertoire during this musical theater experience. Learn from working professionals with classes in jazz, tap, scene study and song. Each day will also include a talkback session on auditioning, performing, resumes and more.

French Flare, with the Young Chef’s Academy
9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
@ Vista-Plaza Gahanna
Ages 8-12

Spend the morning exploring French cuisine followed by an afternoon of French inspired dance. Experience ballet, tap and jazz as well as arts and crafts.

Dancing Damsels & Dramatic Dragons, with Columbus Children’s Theatre
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
@ Vista-Plaza Gahanna
Ages 5-7

Join BalletMet and Columbus Children's Theatre for a fairytale adventure. Each day you will rotate between BalletMet dance instructors and CCT teaching artists who will have fun activities in store. You will learn to sing, act and dance while creating a performance like no other.

Like what you see? Register your child for our camp today by visiting our website and printing off the registration form.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

BalletMet’s Tiny Dancers

Did you know that BalletMet, through its Dance Academy, offers Early Childhood Classes? That’s right – we offer dance instruction for students from 4 to 7 years of age. Through the dance classes, young children can experience the joy of movement through musicality, creativity, coordination and social interaction.

Last Tuesday, I was able to sit down with some parents who currently have their daughters enrolled in the Creative Movement classes. These classes are for children ages 4-5. The classes open up the opportunity for the students to learn to love dance through individual expression and discovery. Simple movement sequences emphasize musicality and coordination while developing the children’s ideas and fantasies into movement and dance.

“Why ballet?”

Why did these moms decide to enroll their daughters in ballet classes? For some, their daughters had expressed an interest in dance. For others, they wanted to expose their daughters to the arts. One mom commented that these are the princess years for the girls. It was hard to argue that with little girls prancing around in pink tutus!

There was an overall consensus that the classes provided their daughters with a good social and structural experience. One mother said that the classes would be a good precursor to kindergarten classes.

Before the class began, you could find the girls standing in front of the studios watching the older dancers. One of the tiny dancers noted the beauty of one of the dancers in the studio by saying “Look, she’s so pretty!”

Then Miss Julia (the instructor) came over and asked the girls if they were ready to dance. As they formed a little line behind her, one girl couldn’t contain her excitement and shouted “Come on guys, let’s dance!”

I followed the girls to the dance studio and was able to sit in on the class. Let me tell you what – it was one of the cutest, most entertaining things I had seen all month. On the particular day I sat in, the girls were practicing for their final performance (or, in other words, their last class where there parents were going to watch them perform). Their final performance will be ‘Four Seasons’-centric with the girls portraying different concepts for each season. This class was dedicated to Spring and flowers!

Julia made sure to not only teach the girls, but to gauge their opinion as well. At one point, as the girls were practicing their dance, Julia asked each girl what animals they might find in a flower garden. Some girls said ladybugs, some girls said rabbits. One girl said a giraffe! The girls were then asked to pretend to be each animal they had guessed. While giraffes may not frequent any flower garden you’ve ever seen, she made sure to include it as an animal they pretended to be.

After the class, I had the privilege of speaking with some of the tiny dancers. While most of the girls were shy around me, a few spoke up when I asked what their favorite thing about the class was. The smallest girl of the bunch told me that she really liked dancing with her friends, echoing the mothers’ sentiment that the class provides a good social experience.

Overall, it seemed like the girls really enjoyed being part of the class. Laughter and giggles accompanied the enjoyment you could see in their faces as they danced around the studio. After watching the class, I’ve already made the decision that my future daughter will most certainly be enrolled (as long as she wants to be).

If you’re interested in more information on the types of classes that are offered, visit our website!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

BalletMet Stirs Up a Recipe for Sin

Remember the last time you were craving a sinfully delicious mixture of world class dance and rock & roll, but didn’t quite have all the ingredients to put it together?

Fret not, kind reader. BalletMet is here to indulge your cravings!

With time and patience, we’ve managed to come up with a recipe that we’re finally ready to share. It looks a little something like this:

7 Deadly Sins

Makes 6 Performances

One Batch of BalletMet

Combine the choreographers and the dancers.

With six renowned choreographers styling dance moves for the show, the performance is sure to be satisfying. Each piece shows a modern adaptation of the age old vices, with common design, aesthetics and musical styles tying them together.

Choreographers include:

Ma Cong, Pride

James Kudelka, Sloth & Gluttony

Darrell Grand Moultrie, Wrath

Gina Patterson, Lust

Amy Seiwert, Envy

Jimmy Orrante, Greed

Emily Ramirez, a company dancer who is in her 7th season with BalletMet, will dance in wrath, pride and gluttony. For her, the process of learning the choreography can be traced back to August. With the choreography having a little more edge than it normally does, Emily is excited to see how the audience receives it.

She explained that with other, more classical performances, there was a small separation between her and the character she portrayed. Emily explains that with portions of wrath, the dancers are dancing as themselves, with stripped down emotions.

One Spoonful of Shadowbox Live

Mix the musicians and the singers.

In the first collaboration between the companies, Shadowbox Live lends their instruments, as well as their voices, to bring the sins to life. With new compositions and arrangements by Shadowbox to accompany them, the sins will take center stage and delve into the rousing and emotional questions that humanity has contemplated since ancient times.

Shadowbox members include:

Stev Guyer, producer & vocalist

Stacie Boord, vocalist

Julie Klein, vocalist

Matthew Hahn, lead guitar

Gabriel Guyer, bass guitar

Jennifer Hahn, keyboards

Brandon Smith, drums

Brain Rau, sound engineer

Seven Pieces of Sin

Stir in seven deadly sins.

You’ve heard them all before: envy, greed, gluttony, lust, pride, sloth and wrath. You’ve likely experienced them all before, but have you ever really seen them? The sins will take center stage, styled with a song, in a way you’ve that’s sure to leave you wanting more.

The transition from sin to sin will take you on a ride where you explore everything from the dancers’ deepest “quiet” rage in wrath to the destructive nature of jealousy. You’ll even experience pride in a celebratory light, rather than a sinful one.

One Drop of Costume Design

Add awesome outerwear.

Rebecca Turk, resident costume director, has been with BalletMet for nearly five years. Before BalletMet, Rebecca was the costumer coordinator at Western Oregon University and the costume manager at the Orlando Shakespeare Festival.

Rebecca looked to the contemporary rock n’ roll style for inspiration. Featuring pieces with a little bit more edge, she focused on the key elements of rock n’ roll: ruching, lace and even animal print. The pieces flow together with a black, white, red and gray color palette.

With the costumes being more organic than normal, Rebecca managed to maintain a cohesive design among the seven sins and their dancers.

A Mixture of MetPremiere + Barrio Tapas

Pour in a combo of MetPremiere and Barrio Tapas.

The final ingredient we have is a mixture of partnerships. MetPremiere has teamed up with Barrio Tapas to take you to dinner before the show on May 5th.

We have drinks and tapas for those who purchase a special ticket package! The $50 package includes:

- One ticket to BalletMet's 7 Deadly Sins show

- Two Drink Tickets for a 7 Deadly Sins specialty cocktail

- Appetizers at Barrio Tapas

For more info, check out the Facebook Event!

Bake at 450º. Let cool – then serve!

And voila! There you have it – our recipe for 7 Deadly Sins. If you can’t wait to feast your eyes on the end results, check out our website for show times and ticket info!

Teaser Trailer: