School of Dance to grace Amp stage for final gala of ’23 season

School of Dance Festival students rehearse “Time To Dance” under the instruction of Artistic Director Sasha Janes on July 31 in the Carnahan-Jackson Dance Studios. HG Biggs/Staff Photographer

Julia Weber
Staff writer

Students in Chautauqua’s School of Dance will take the stage for their final performance at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Amphitheater. The dancers will perform a variety of pieces, including Donizetti Variations, Tarantella and Union Jack choreographed by George Balanchine, and Nutcracker’s Grand Pas de Deux and Mother Ginger as well as Wildflower, which were choreographed by School of Dance Artistic Director Sasha Janes.

Patricia McBride, former distinguished prima ballerina with New York City Ballet and Director of Ballet Studies and Principal Repetiteur at Chautauqua, is thrilled to be bringing students back to the stage to commemorate the end of the dance season.

“We’re just so looking forward to this,” she said. “It’s bittersweet because it will be our last show and we’ve seen them progress from the beginning to doing all different styles,” 

For McBride, it’s bittersweet to see the growth of the dancers through the summer but have to say goodbye to them as the season wraps up.

“You see the growth and the confidence that they have, you can see their own presence and their personality is stronger, and the technique is stronger, the musicality – everything,” McBride said.

She is immensely proud of how the Festival and Pre-Professional dancers have grown this summer, and she is excited for Chautauqua to experience the same growth that she has witnessed during their performance at the Amp. She’s looking forward to the School of Dance bringing a diverse, energetic mix of pieces to the stage.

“They’re all stunningly energetic – lots of energy, musicality, speed and it’s amazing to see the dancers do these wonderful ballets,” she said.

McBride said Chautauquans will be able to experience the dancers’ athleticism and talent. She particularly enjoys the confidence she sees from the dancers and their ability to let go and perform to their fullest potential.

McBride hopes attendees will leave the performance with a sense of joy surrounding all that dance can be, and she emphasized the importance of being moved by the performances. 

“You want to be moved or touched or feel joy when you watch it,” she said.

She wants the audience to find joy and relaxation in the performance so as to fully enjoy it.

“Live performances have to touch you,” she said. “If they’re good, you will feel joy or you will feel something. You have to feel – the mood of the piece, or something, has to touch you. If one piece touches you, then it’s wonderful.”


The author Julia Weber

Julia Weber is a rising junior in Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College where she is majoring in journalism and minoring in art history. Originally from Athens, Ohio, this is her first summer in Chautauqua and she is thrilled to cover the theater and dance performances. She serves as the features editor for Ohio University’s All-Campus Radio Network, a student-run radio station and media hub, and she is a former intern for Pittsburgh Magazine. Outside of her professional life, Julia has a newly adopted cat, Griffin, and she is an avid fan of live music and a dedicated ceramicist.