Young talent was in the Amphitheater spotlight Friday, June 14, for Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet’s annual Spring Gala, a pre-season performance that’s recently become part of Chautauqua Institution’s year-round arts education outreach.
The gala’s second year on the Amp stage featured aspiring dancers from across the county, under the direction of Monika Alch.
“It’s a big deal for them,” said Alch, CRYB’s artistic director. “The whole atmosphere, the big theater and the outdoors, I think it’s just very exciting for (the dancers) and for us, and it’s wonderful that we’re allowed to perform here.”
On the night’s bill were selections from “Carmen” — the story of Spanish gypsy woman’s misadventure — and excerpts from “Swan Lake.” Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra second violinist Simon Lapointe accompanied “Tzigane,” a contemporary, en pointe piece choreographed by CRYB alumna Brittany Bush.
Guest artist Spencer Keith of the Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre danced the male solo from “Le Corsaire,” and CRYB’s pre-professional dancers performed the ballet’s “Odalisques Pas de Trois.”
About 600 students from local schools previewed CRYB’s performance on Thursday, June 13, as part of the Institution’s art education programming. CRYB will return to Chautauqua for the Family Entertainment Series on Aug. 3 in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall.
“The ballet trip is an opportunity for students to have that seminal experience,” said Suzanne Fassett Wright, director of arts education at the Institution. “They get to experience something they’ve never experienced before and to see something of such a high quality. They get to have this touchpoint experience to hopefully inspire them to continue to pursue artistic endeavors, and that art is a means of expression and that is art is for you.”
Throughout the off-season, the Institution runs several 10-week arts residencies across seven schools in Warren and Chautauqua Counties. The Institution also offers professional development arts integration programs for teachers and the Young Playwrights Project, where third- and fourth-graders in five local schools write plays in partnership with the Chautauqua Theater Company. Select plays will be performed for the public on July 2.
In June, Chautauqua Opera Company Young Artists visited local schools for Chautauqua Opera Invasion, which reached more than 6,000 students; schools were also invited to visit the grounds to view the art galleries.
In total, the Institution’s art education programming services over 7,000 area-school children, according to Wright.
“The goal is frankly less about bringing them to the grounds and more about bringing the grounds to them,” she said. “It’s valuable to bring students here and to see the resources we have here, but also it’s also valuable to bring the resources we have to them.”
Support for these arts education initiatives is provided by The Goldin Foundation for Excellence in Education; Mary and Pat Grant; the Greater Washington Community Foundation; David and Nancy Moore Family Fund; Paul and Marnette Perry; Mark and Patt Suwyn; and the Western New York Foundation.