When Jordan Leeper’s dance instructor at the Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet told him that he would be coming to Chautauqua Institution to take a ballet class in 2006, he didn’t understand why.
Part of the excitement of hosting the Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet is that after the performance, all of the kids in the audience try their hardest to relevé and pirouette. Holding tight onto a parent’s hand for support — each hoping, even if just for one night, to be the next prima ballerina.
Closing this season’s Family Entertainment Series, the Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet from Jamestown, N.Y., will perform at 7 p.m. tonight in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall. This marks the ballet company’s eighth performance at Chautauqua Institution.
“I just think it’s a beautiful art form — dance, ballet,” said Monika Alch, CRYB artistic director. “I think that everybody can enjoy it if they understand ballet, or [if] they don’t.”
Science-fiction author Ray Bradbury once said, “It’s lack that gives us inspiration. It’s not fullness.”
When choreographers create works intended to be “abstract,” that is sometimes when dancers find the most meaningful connections to the steps.
Ballet is a decidedly aristocratic art form, born in the courts of Europe and still, even today, laced with proper positions and bows. Major European ballet groups in Paris, London and Moscow each have precise stylistic proportions and repertoires that are embedded in the history of the art form.
So it is fun to watch how American companies have taken a formal and often staid dance format and given it their own twist, which local audiences can see in an open air, festival-like setting such as Chautauqua’s Amphitheater. However, they thankfully have not often had to deal with cool temperatures such as those seen at the surprisingly terrific — given the circumstances — final performance of North Carolina Dance Theatre and Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, expertly conducted by Grant Cooper.
The Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet brings youth back to classical dance. Their classical dancers range from children to pre-professional, and the school reminds audiences of the values and beauty of classical dance.
“It’s important for our mission to keep classical dance vibrant and to expose children to classical dance,” said Elizabeth Bush, CRYB’s executive director. “It’s nice to show younger children classical dance performed by children and teenagers.”
CRYB takes the stage at 7 p.m. tonight in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall as part of the Family Entertainment Series.