News Column

First Friday performance keeps Ballet Brazos members on their toes

June 5, 2014

By Jenny Twitchell, The Eagle, Bryan, Texas

June 05--It has taken months of planning and lots of rehearsal, but Ballet Brazos dancers are ready to perform at the Palace Theater for a free First Friday performance in Downtown Bryan.

"It's important to all of us at Ballet Brazos that we offer opportunities for our community to experience the beauty and excitement of classical ballet," said Katy Ellison, ballet mistress at Ballet Brazos. "We felt that offering a free concert for First Friday was a great way to bring the art of classical ballet to a broader audience."

The performance will be from 6 to 7 p.m. and feature two ballets, Peter and the Wolf and Masquerade, both of which were commissioned by the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra for their Children's Concert series. It will also have a new piece, Berceuse, choreography by Ellison that will be accompanied live by musicians from the Marion Anderson String Quartet Community Music School and feature classical variations from the ballet Don Quixote.

The skill level of the dancers will range from intermediate-level dancers up through advanced. Former professional dancer, Todd Stickney, will be dancing the part of the Wolf in Peter and the Wolf.

"It's a great experience for our dancers to perform with him," Ellison said.

The dancers of Ballet Brazos have all been performing for years. Catherine Sexton, who will perform in Peter and the Wolf, Don Quixote and Berceuse, has been dancing for 11 years. She has been a part of Ballet Brazos since it started about two years ago, and plans to continue dancing either professionally or collegiately.

Dancing multiple parts can be tiring, but she has learned how to make it through long routines.

"A lot of practice goes into each routine, and by the time it is performed, strength and muscle memory have been built up," she said. "However, when a dancer is nervous or is physically unprepared, it comes down to adrenaline, motivation, and some concentrated umph to make each performance your best."

Along with the ballet dancers, there will also be a guest appearance by the Brazos Valley LoneStars, a division of Brazos Valley Performing Arts. The LoneStars are no stranger to First Friday. They have performed multiple times on corners during First Friday.

They are the ones doing the quick, high-flying country and western dance style that is full of spins, lifts and swings.

Lance Swigert, leader of the group, said his favorite move is the triple cartwheel: girl does a cartwheel on the guy, guy does a cartwheel on the girl, and the girl does another one on the guy. It's enough to get dizzy.

"It does feel impossible when you first start, but the more you get into, the further you go and the easier it all becomes," Swigert said. "And you get less dizzy."

Hoping that the performances will showcase the wealth of talent in the community, Ellison said she hopes a lot of people come out to watch.

"Between the dancers of Ballet Brazos, the musicians of the Marion Anderson String Quartet Community Music School, and the LoneStars, it will be a pretty fantastic show," Ellison said.


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Source: Eagle (Bryan, TX)