Lake Charles Civic Ballet

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Back in the Studio

by Evette Ange

Lady Leah Lafargue students

Excitement fills the studio as eager dancers start back to class this week.  This year four new instructors will be preparing the students for the much anticipated LCCB season.  Each of these instructors are former students of Lady Leah Lafargue School of the Dance and principal performers with Lake Charles Civic Ballet in some of the very roles that company dancers will be performing this season.

Lady Leah Lafargue students

Lady Holly along with everyone at the studio would like to welcome Baylee Gifford who will be instructing the younger level dancers.  Tricia Lundy Barrow and Christy Daigle, who will be instructing Level 3 Ballet and Nancy Higginbotham who will be instructing Level 3 Ballet and Level 2 Pointe.  Each of these talented, homegrown instructors bring to the students of ballet a new perspective and opportunity for growth, as well as nurturing their poise, grace, self-discipline and self-motivation. Upholding a standard of excellence and continuing the highest quality of classical ballet training has truly become a generational endeavor for those associated with LLL School of the Dance.

Photos by Colten Miller

Cinderella Photo Shoot

Aviary Photo_130188993891778466 (800x251)

“Once Upon A Time” …the phrase we all relate to as part of our childhood.  What wonderful memories of reading fairy tales and dreaming of being the characters portrayed in “happily ever after”.  For Lake Charles Civic Ballet dancers, the characters WILL come to life as LCCB brings back to the stage an LCCB original production, Cinderella.  Plans are underway to bring this fairy tale to life not only for the dancers but also for the audience as they experience this fairy tale live March 22 & 23,  2014.  LCCB’s set designer, Fred Stark, worked his magic rejuvenating the pumpkin carriage for last months photo shoot.  His artistic ability to translate the beauty of a fairy tale carriage to one set for the stage is amazing.  The carriage is just one of the many projects Fred has in store for the production.

As a former Cinderella of LCCB, last month’s photo shoot brought back wonderful memories.  What a blessing it is to have a local classical ballet non-profit company whose mission is “To provide a complete theatre experience with a emphasis on classical dance training and performance in Louisiana, as a creative outlet for Louisiana choreographers, composers and artists, and as a means of building the audience for dance in our region.”  LCCB truly lives up to its mission!  I watched in amazement as the carriage was positioned and Artistic Director, Lady Holly Hathaway, began directing the dancers for the photos.  She imitated what she wanted them to do and she talked them through each frame.  The dancers had a blast!  Danley Romero of Romero & Romero Photography, LCCB photographer, captured the fairy tale! Danley walked the entire property with Lady Holly exploring each angle..stooping…standing…what an artistic talent Danley is working hard to capture both his and Lady Holly’s artistic style through a single snap shot.

Special thanks to Lisa and Dwaine Ellender of Chateau de Bon Reve for graciously allowing LCCB on their beautiful property.  Chatau de Bon Reve is not only their home but also includes a banquet hall complete with a commercial sized kitchen, bride and groom dressing areas, restrooms, etc.  This was no doubt the best place to capture the fairy tale, Cinderella, as produced by LCCB.

Donita Helms

Foundation For Life

My name is Billy Ward, and I’m proud to have started my life in dance at Lake Charles Civic Ballet.

My sister Rebecca danced with Lady Leah from as early as I can remember. Lady’s son Bill was a childhood friend of mine, and one day, my brothers (Clay & Norman) and I were enlisted by Bill to work backstage. As we were tying a giant backdrop of Oak Alley to a pipe, readying the stage for one of Lady’s signature ballets, she walked out of the darkness of the upper stage-right wings. She was pure raw energy; you could feel her presence moments before you saw her. Until that day, I’d never met this tiny, confident, beautiful woman. 

She introduced herself: “Hello, I’m Lady Leah, director of the Lake Charles Civic Ballet. Thank you so much for helping us.” Wow! She was the stuff of old southern lore. A lady in all aspects, and the director! I was speechless, which was normal for me at that point in my life, as I’d been diagnosed with an extreme case of dyslexia. I still don’t care much for the word failure, but the fact is before that day, I was a failure. In my childhood, defeat after defeat left me a shell, a numb and frightened kid who didn’t care about learning. I didn’t even want to try anymore. How many times could I take the blame for not applying myself or being lazy? The moment I met Lady Leah, I guess God intervened! 

Lady walked up to me and asked me to take off my shoes and point my foot. Just like that, right out of the blue! I thought, this Lady is nuts! Anyway, you didn’t say no to Lady Leah, so I took off my shoe and mimicked what I thought a pointed foot was. She looked at me and said, “You have to be a dancer.”

I thought; get me out of here quick! No way am I going to do this stuff. I like being around beautiful girls in leotards, but I’m not dancing! Well, the next thing I knew, she had set up a class to teach some of the guys – including my brothers – to learn to lift the girls and to do a polka, in case she needed us for a ballet she was choreographing called Buckskin Believers. In class she started sneaking in a ballet step or two. I remember jumping across the floor with my brothers as Lady counted out the music for us, screaming, “Jump boys!” I was stunned at the joy and camaraderie I felt, doing the step and sharing it with my brothers. It felt right to use my body like this, in a centuries-old art form I was doing without too much difficulty.

About a week later, I showed up for the class but guess who didn’t? All of the other guys! I grabbed my backpack and tried to get out of the room without Lady seeing me, but she nailed me, saying, “Billy Ward get to the barre between Missy and Renee and do what they do.”

I left Lake Charles the next year with a full scholarship to the 2 best ballet schools in America! If it weren’t for Lady being the force of nature and the complete “total theatre” experience she is, my life may have taken another turn. I owe her everything; I learned to believe in myself because of her support and excitement in my dancing. I thank her every day and know even now, as I am still dancing with the New York City Opera, that my wonderful life, my joy, was uncovered for me by her. 

Thank you, Lady, for dreaming and telling me daily you knew I could do it! Nothing is impossible…

Commercial: LCCB 2012 The Sleeping Beauty Ballet

Interview with Margaret Lie

Guest Writer: Kelley Saucier, LCCB President

There seems to be no end to the talents of Margaret Lie. This 16 year old junior at St. Louis Catholic High School is serious. Serious about school. Serious about music. And serious about ballet. She is so focused that if you aren’t paying close attention you will miss out on her wry sense of humor, and side-bar jokes. So make no mistake, although she is always the dancer with her books in the dressing room getting all of her homework done, or rushing from Youth Orchestra to Ballet to Student Council, Margaret likes to laugh and have fun!
     So what about playing 3 instruments? Piano, Violin, Flute – she plays them all well. I asked Margaret how that came about. “When I was three, my parents took me to a piano sale and I told them I wanted one, so they bought it and I started lessons. When I was four, I asked for a violin. I had a tiny violin and began taking lessons. Then in fifth grade I joined the school band. The band director told me I needed to play either drums or flute, I said no to the drums, and wasn’t suited for trumpet blowing or anything else, so it was the Flute.”
     Margaret is an honor student with a rigorous academic course load, playing multiple instruments and juggling extracurricular activities besides ballet rehearsals, so I asked her if she sleeps. The answer: “Oh yes. Bedtime is 10:30 PM sharp. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, if its 10:30 PM, I am falling asleep.”
     When I asked Margaret about the upcoming Sleeping Beauty performance with the Lake Charles Symphony, she described the first time she heard the music in the studio, “It really spoke to me. All of the instruments are showcased individually, it’s beautiful. I was in rapture watching the recent showing of the Bolshoi version at Cinemark.”
     Margaret plays the role of the Fairy of the Golden Vine in the prologue of the LCCB production. She says she was “instantly drawn to it because of the combination of intricate footwork and lots of motion. [The Golden Vine Fairy] uses the entire stage.”
     Margaret will also share the stage with Ashley Eaves and Elizabeth (Lizy) Gates as one of the Jeweled Fairies in the finale; Margaret is gold. She says Ashley and Lizy both have great feet and she works hard to synchronize her steps with theirs. The same goes for the Friends of Aurora segment in Act I with Julia Basone, Gabrielle Saucier, and Marissa White. Margaret says that part “requires so much control and lots of unison. It’s tough.”
     So, is the juggling act worth it? Absolutely. “I am blessed to have the opportunity to dance with the Lake Charles Symphony. Live music is very inspiring.”
     Margaret Lie is the 16 year of daughter of Stephanie and Albert Lie of Lake Charles. She is a junior at St. Louis Catholic High School. Margaret has trained for 14 years at the Lady Leah Lafargue School of the Dance and with Lake Charles Civic Ballet. She has performed feature roles in many LCCB productions including Miss Peacock in Clue, Reflection in Debut, Russian and Swiss in Rudolph. She also was a member of the 2004 LCCB cast of Petrushka with the Lake Charles Symphony.


Profile photo by Cameron Durham / Dance photo by Romero & Romero Photography

Interview with Anne Veillon

Guest Writer: Kelley Saucier, LCCB President

Anne has studied ballet at Lady Leah Lafargue Schoolof the Dance for 11 years, where, since last year, she also teaches younger students ballet. She says that the transition from student to teacher has been challenging and has caused her to really examine her own dancing and technique.
     Even though Lady Leah is no longer teaching at the studio daily, her presence is still felt. Anne remembers her instruction well, “eyebrows up!” She says that Lady Leah really stressed being expressive and playing to the audience. That lesson obviously took root as Lady Holly Hathaway Kaough, current director of Lady Leah’s dance studio and artistic director of LCCB, says that “Anne consistently projects to the audience and maintains her character throughout a role. She performs the entire time she is on stage.” Of Lady Holly, Anne says that she is “one of the kindest, most sincere people I have ever met. She has such love and fire about her, in all areas of life. She is a busy mom and teacher, and I really admire that about her.”
     In Act I of The Sleeping Beauty Anne plays the role of The Village Girl opposite Joel Sanchez of Austin, Texas. Although her partner is out of town, they had the chance to meet this summer, and recently spent a weekend rehearsing here in Lake Charles. She doesn’t foresee any problems getting the choreography perfected for the performance. “[Joel] is a hard worker and he’s the sweetest guy,” Anne said. They are prepared to get the job done.
     Anne says that it is very exciting to be a part of a big ballet and the studio is very alive right now: “We have been working on this since mid-June, so finally, after nine months it is upon us! There is a great deal of fine tuning happening now, some tension and stress too, but that all comes with the anticipation and excitement. It’s really cool to be a part of this big production with the Lake Charles Symphony.”
     Anne is a junior at McNeese State University majoring in Animal Science. The 21 year old daughter of Darlene and the late Eddie Veillon of Lake Charles hopes to work at a zoo one day. She is looking forward to getting some experience this summer as a volunteer at the Baton Rouge Zoo. Anne has performed in many LCCB productions including Daguerreotype, Clue, Rudolph, Little Drummer Boy, and in ACTS Theatre’s Beauty and the Beast. She is an accomplished singer as well.

Profile photo by Cameron Durham / Dance photo by Romero & Romero Photography

LCCB Profiles: Elizabeth Gates

                          Choreographer

Photo by Cameron Durham / Elizabeth Lauren Gates


LCCB PROFILES — Elizabeth Lauren Gates from Lake Charles Civic Ballet on Vimeo.

Elizabeth ‘Lizy’ Gates trained with Lady Leah Lafargue School of the Dance just prior to attending the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Since school Lizy has been a guest performer with many professional companies and worked as a ballet instructor and choreographer for studios in Louisiana and Texas. Beyond her classical ballet education, Lizy has studied the modern techniques of Martha Graham, Lester Horton, and Merce Cunningham. Her inspiration for her choreography comes from many sources, but she says her main inspiration is the music itself.

This season Lake Charles Civic Ballet is fortunate to have Lake Charles native Elizabeth Gates in the studio working with dancers and participating in our season. During a sneak preview in November, a trio of principal dancers performed Psalm of Spring which was choreographed by Ms. Gates especially for the event. Elizabeth Gates’ Psalm of Spring will be featured at the LCCB Spring Performance later this season.

LCCB Profiles: Katelyn Chargois

LCCB Principal

Photo by Cameron Durham / Katelyn Chargois

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


LCCB PROFILES — Katelyn Chargois from Lake Charles Civic Ballet on Vimeo.


In the studio with Katelyn Chargois and Elizabeth Gates.

Lake Charles Civic Ballet’s founder, Lady Leah Lafargue Hathaway revealed her creative brilliance and artistic vision through dance and the stage. Lady Leah’s genius is found in the company’s extensive repertoire which features numerous ballets created or set by her. She provided a place for artistic talent to develop and for professionals to work. Over the years many artists and guests have shared our studios and worked behind the scenes with photography, lighting, sets, costumes, and choreography.
While our foundation was laid by Lady Leah the next generation continues her legacy and promises to entertain our audiences with the beauty of dance and the stage. Today, the position of artistic director has been passed toLady Holly Hathaway Kaough. She works her magic with the company, but she honors her mother’s vision—a place where artists can work and collaborate with others. The original works of Lady Leah fit seamlessly with exciting new works created by Lady Holly and guest choreographers such as Elizabeth Gates.
In this third video of Karen Wink’s interview series, Karen features LCCB Principal Katelyn Chargois in a studio rehearsal for Elizabeth Gates’ Psalm of Spring. This original piece byElizabethwill be performed at LCCB’s 2012 Spring Performance in May.

LCCB Profiles: Ashley Eaves

                    LCCB Principal
Photo by Cameron Durham / Ashley Eaves


LCCB PROFILES — Ashley Eaves from Lake Charles Civic Ballet on Vimeo.

In the studio with Ashley Eaves and Elizabeth Gates.

Karen Wink caught up with choreographer Elizabeth Gates and three LCCB princpal dancers in the studio. Karen interviewed each of the members during a rehearsal for “Psalm of Spring” created for LCCB by choreographer Elizabeth Gates for our “Season Sneak Preview & Behind the Scenes with LCCB.” The complete piece was performed on Sunday, November 13, 2011. The evening was presented by L’Auberge Lake Charles and hosted by Heather Ieyoub of KVHP Fox29.

The first interview features Principal Ashley Eaves. LCCB looks forward to performing “Psalm of Spring” at our 2012 Spring Performance in May.