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Ballet Students to Kick-off Dance Celebrations
From left: Austin Eder, Mana Miyai
and Jorge Lagunas
They call it the Summer Intensive. With only four weeks of training, every weekday from 10am to 8pm, (only 3 hours on Saturday) the 45 students will be ready to perform in the Pearson Park Amphitheatre on August 5th.
Ever since Anaheim Ballet put out a call earlier this year looking for accommodations for dancers coming in from as far as Japan, Australia and Canada, I wondered what this dance summer school would be like. Director Larry Rosenberg became my gracious host allowing me to sit and watch the students at work. Under the ever watchful eye of choreographer Sarma Rosenberg, the students began to unfold the ballet we will see next week.
The work they are learning, The Little Humpbacked Horse, was originally written and choreographed by Arthur Saint-Leon – who also wrote Swan Lake – and set to music by Cesare Pugni in the 19th century. A later revival in 1895 by Maurice Petipa added new material as well as additional variations for the Ballerina Legnani written by Riccardo Drigo. (Wikipedia)
All ages, fully focused on the dance.
Simply to see them in the studio was to gain a whole new insight for the ballet outsider, me. You might imagine that when dancers were not on the floor they would be talking too loudly, chewing gum, running in and out of the room, paying little attention to the others and generally being typical teenagers. But no, not for one moment! You could see in their faces the pride, concentration and pleasure at being there. Larry explained in a whisper, “we teach even the smallest kids commitment, passion, and intensity.” And it showed.
But when it came time to have a break we saw more of the typical teenager; the playing cards were out and who cared if you had to step in the middle of the circle just to get past. They were loving it.
“Were do you all come from?” I asked. Some lived in Orange county (about 20 dancers are local) while others came from northern California and Washington state.
The full roster comprises students from AB's local outreach program and also out of state - plus Australia, Mexico, Japan, Canada. Of the full compliment, 45 are local students.
“How did you hear about this summer school?” They had all seen the fabulous videos posted on Anaheim Ballet’s You Tube Channel. If you’ve never seen the work of the company this would be the best place to start. And then come to the show, of course. It is free, after all.
Back to the studio. It was wonderful to see the dancers in chorus fill the floor and then move in ever-changing configurations as each scene unfolded. The clunk, clunk, clunk of their point shoes was more noticeable than when you watch ballet from the middle of a larger auditorium. You began to be amazed at the sheer control of the supple, flexed muscles of these athletes. For that is what they are. Finely honed, powerful athletes, moving with rhythm, grace and total concentration. Even the little ones further back were focused on the more experienced dancers trying to catch every movement.
Watching every move.
I spoke with 15 year old Nathan Lacombe from Albert, Canada. Influenced early in life by his mom who works in a dance school, he is equally at home playing soccer and hockey. Ultimately he would like to be a professional dancer. He reminded me that during the summer intensive all the dancers take classes in modern dance, lyrical, jazz and hip-hop. His favorite is hip-hop. The company brings in the best choreographers to teach the various styles. Nathan is finding the school very helpful as he improves his technique, and learns new approaches to the traditional steps.
Nathan Lacombe (15) with
My day was happier, my spirit was uplifted, to see not only the dedication of Larry and Sarma Rosenberg, but to watch the developing artistry of so many lovely dancers.
The Summer program details are here on this site. Two of the shows are free. But you should expect to see so much more when you go to the events at The Grove of Anaheim and Chapman University.
This latest AB video podcast features Misty Copeland.
Anaheim Ballet is truly "More Than Dance".
All pictures by Michael Buss: July 2011