Lake Charles Civic Ballet

Posts Tagged ‘ballet’

Lake Charles Civic Ballet Takes Rudolph Around the World: A total educational experience

Photo by Cameron Durham



Guest Writer: Erica Guillory

As I watched my son practice for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Ballet, I was drawn to the educational experience it provides for children of all ages.  I am a teacher who thrives on creative opportunities that will broaden the minds of my students beyond the realm of the everyday learning routine.  
The history of Christmas as it relates to many cultures, countries, and traditions are embedded within the amazing ballet pieces presented. Santa discusses the rituals of countries such as Russia, China, and Switzerland. This ballet experience can provide many avenues for culture awareness development. Also, it can provide a plethora of in depth research that will challenge the mind of students across the parish. Teachers could use this opportunity for writing, comparing and contrasting the American culture to those of the countries discussed in the Ballet.  State benchmarks and GLE’s definitely can be met on a higher level, which is the goal of all teachers.  Students will also be able to develop a love for ballet, theatre, and telling a story through the art of dance. 
Opportunities like this are those in which education should thrive upon.  This total experience could cover a multitude of subject areas and student work.  It is a great learning opportunity presented in a creative way. As educators and parents we must take advantage of those opportunities that will broaden the minds of our children. The Lake Charles Civic Ballet can provide that opportunity. Take advantage.
Pictured in photo from “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer‘ Around the World, Russian dance:  
Adrian Durham; Julia Basone

Dance, Conversation, and a Party with Friends

                                       Photo by Romero & Romero Photography


Guest Writer: Kelley Saucier, LCCB President

Lake Charles Civic Ballet took the opportunity to say thank you to sponsors, arts organization leaders, city officials, and special guests on Sunday, November 13, 2011 at Central School Theatre. The event, Sneak Preview & Behind the Scenes with LCCB, hosted by Heather Ieyoub of KVHP Fox29, gave the audience an inside look at the coming season and an opportunity to get to know the choreographers and principal dancers of LCCB as Ms. Ieyoub put them all in the “hot seat” on stage. Lady Holly Hathaway Kaough stated that LCCB’s ambitious season, which includes the Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in December 2011 as well as The Sleeping Beauty in March 2012 with the Lake Charles Symphony, would not be possible without the continued support from the community. It was a wonderfully intimate gathering of special friends of LCCB who where treated to pre and post performance fare. We all had so much fun and look forward to our next opportunity to interact with our supporters: our Costume Preview Party for Patron Sponsors on March 2, 2012 at L’Auberge Lake Charles. If you aren’t a sponsor yet, it’s not too late to join and be a part of all the fun!

Pictured in photo: Adelaide Saucier, Drew Anderson

PASA’s Backstage Pass

Yesterday, Performing Arts Society of Acadiana, with the generosity of Capital One and Chevron, presented a daytime performance of Complexions Contemporary Ballet at Angelle Hall UL Lafayette. Louisiana students were entertained and educated during the hour long look into the life of this company and its dancers.
Students were shown a condensed version of a professional dancer’s day—from morning until night on the day of a performance. The glimpse lasting 60 minutes carried our students through morning warm up—consisting of barre and center work, on to the daytime rehearsals, and ending with the nighttime show. Complexions male dancers were greeted with hoots and snickers by our audience of middle school and high school students, but were soon awarded cheers and applause. The young audience quickly gained an appreciation for the skills and talents of these artistic athletes. The PASA daytime performance ended after a Q & A session between the Complexions dancers and the students.
“to dance is to move on a level far beyond athleticism. Yes, there are speed, power, balance, and endurance—all the things that define athlete. But then there are grace, beauty, form, emotion, and the power of communication. There is art.” __DanceMagazine, February 2002
Later that evening, UL Lafayette provided the location for a Complexions Dance master class taught by Assistant Ballet Mistress Sabra Perry. A master class provides ballet students with the opportunity to build their dance knowledge. 
The class of approximately 50 dancers was given a brief introduction of the company and its artistic staff then went straight into a barre warm up. Sabra was very personable and gave great analogies to help the dancers learn some of the movements from two of the company’s ballets. All the movements were ballet based, with the upper-body lines lengthened to create the contemporary style. After the class, Ms. Perry answered questions and visited with the dancers. Lake Charles Civic Ballet members in attendance included Elizabeth Gates, Drew Anderson, Ashley Eaves, and Katelyn Chargois.
Complexions Contemporary Ballet will be performing tonight at Heymann Performing Arts Center in Lafayetteat 7:30PM. From New York City, Complexions Contemporary Ballet is an artistic treat everyone must see.
Pictured in bottom photo left to right:
Katelyn Chargois, Sabra Perry, Ashley Eaves, Drew Anderson, Elizabeth Gates

Frozen Talents

Photo from Lois Greenfield website

Photography and ballet are both skilled arts that take years of training to develop. If you ask a ballerina when she mastered her skill of ballet, she will tell you that a dancer is alwaysworking to master the art of ballet. Photography is the same. Combining these art forms can be challenging, but truly exciting.
The relationship of photographer and artistic director is not unlike the relationship of the choreographer and the dancer. Lake Charles Civic Ballet has had the privilege of collaborating with several photographers—professional and amateur.
For a photographer’s camera to successfully capture a dancer’s motion, the dancer must possess the physique and technique to display the movements and shapes selected by the artistic director, and the photographer must possess the talent and timing to capture the precise moment of the movement. The resulting photograph represents many layers of talent. Years of training, dedication, and skill—for everyone involved—frozen for all time.
LCCB is a pre-professional ballet company. On opening night of Resonating Fields at Historic City Hall, LCCB dancers, choreographers, photographer, and artistic director viewed the exhibit as guests, as well as teachers and students of the art of ballet.  Thank you to Lois Greenfield for sharing her talent with the city of Lake Charles. ‘Like’ Lois Greenfield on Facebook at Lois Greenfield Dance Photography Workshops.

50 is the New 30

by Rhonda K. Chargois


Southwest Louisiana doesn’t have a professional ballet company to claim as their own. The closest thing we have is a visit from the Moscow Ballet and their Nutcracker sponsored by a local ballet studio. We are fortunate to have our own civic ballet—Lake Charles Civic Ballet. LCCB dancers are students. For the most part, they are middle school and high school students, with a few college students and professional dancers that participate regularly in class and in performances.
Our company dancers are connected. Not that they come to class every afternoon and visit with everyone face to face. They’re connected online. They interact with friends, family, teachers and brands through Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and YouTube; they read and create blogs like Tumblr, Blogger, or WordPress. Smart businesses will meet these younger consumers where they hang out if they expect to be noticed by them and have an impact. Most ballet companies are smart. LCCB wants to connect. We may be over 40, but we’re acting much younger. I guess you could say we’re fighting our age. 
In our efforts to stay young and connect with new ballet fans, we have become much more social. No, we don’t visit in class, but we are connected with people and businesses through social media outlets. We are a nonprofit arts organization which means we are supported by a limited budget. We depend on the support of grants, sponsors, and volunteers. And just in case you didn’t notice—social media is cheap, but it isn’t easy.
Facebook should be fairly easy, right? Twitter is different and may take more time to understand if you’ve never tweeted. Blogging moves into more work. Flickr, YouTube, Foursquare, they all have something fun to offer to a company looking to ‘get social’ on a budget. It’s like an addiction. You add one social account, and the next thing you know you’re adding another and another. But remember, every account has to be updated, monitored, and actively used, or you may as well remove the word ‘social’.
I’ll admit. When my own children were younger I was against social media, but once my children were old enough to become ‘social’ it became my job as a parent to monitor their activity. As I monitored, we learned together the best ways to connect with the good and stay away from the bad content online. Now that I’m 50 which we all know is the new 30, I can connect with the younger generation. Connecting for LCCB means sharing what’s happening inside The Ballet and what’s happening in ballet outside our community. The Nutcracker is great Christmas fun, but ballet is so much more.
Our Social Media Team has a mission to track down the most current online ballet information and discussions. We want to share that information with our dancers and anyone else who may be interested. We want to share the links to our favorite blogs and Facebook Pages on The Ballet blog soon (just as soon as I learn how to do that—Jjk). Some ballet companies have beautiful websites, informative blogs loaded with eye catching photos, and they’re connected with social media in every way imaginable. Other companies are stuck back in a time warp before there was social media.
Last week I heard a mature woman exclaim she would be coloring her hair until the age of 100. Lake Charles Civic Ballet has a group of volunteers who believe our company is a valuable addition to our community and the world of ballet. Connect with us, and let’s be social. We’ll be the elderly women with colored hair staring at our smart phones and clicking away on our laptops.

Inside the Wardrobe: Part II

The Houston Ballet Wardrobe Department occupies a good portion of the second floor in the new downtown Center for Dance. Bolts of fabric, costume accessories, and racks of ballet costumes are just a few of the staging areas inside the wardrobe. Wardrobe Manager Laura Lynch moved our small group of visiting moms past the ballet bibles to an office space reserved for guest designers and local artisans. This area provides their guests with ample office space complete with desks, work surfaces, and plenty of storage space to work side by side with HB wardrobe staff.
Just past the guest office space in the northeast corner of the wardrobe is the Spray Room and the Dye Room. Where some tutus are designed to be spray painted to give them a distinctive color and shape many times the fabrics are dyed. The Dye Room houses several washer/dryer sets with one set reserved just for dying fabrics. In the corner of the room stands a restaurant grade food vat used to heat the dyes to a higher temperature for those hard to dye fabrics. There is a separate hot water tank to serve the high demands of this room. Laura explained the multiple techniques used to clean ballet costumes. The techniques include hand wash, machine wash, dry clean, and ozone treatment. Dry cleaning is the hardest on costumes because the chemicals break down the structure of a costume and the fabric. Ozone treatment is more costume friendly. Houston Ballet has plans to install an ozone facility on the premises. Costumes are routinely spot cleaned with a fine mist of straight vodka. Most of the moms had never heard of this technique.

the thread wall in ‘notions central’

Anyone in Houston would love to have the views designed into this building. Walls of windows surround this end of the department. One of the most colorful spots in the costume area is called ‘notions central.’ Here you will find trimmings, buttons, beads, and spools of thread in every color imaginable. ‘Onie’ White, wardrobe volunteer, shared her bead story with our group. During a rehearsal for Marie one small area of beading broke loose from one of the costumes scattering the beads across the stage floor—a potential safety hazard for the dancers. Onie was given the job of removing all the beading from the costume so the beads could be reattached in a more secure manner. By the time she finished her job, the beads filled a large hat box. Everything on stage is larger than life.
Cutting and sewing requires light and power. The wardrobe department has power brought into the room from the floor and the ceiling. Several outlet locations are necessary to run the commercial sewing machines and irons. Here is where Laura says the design could have been improved. If the electrical outlets in the ceiling had been installed on tracks, the space would be more versatile. I don’t think anyone is complaining about that one small error in design. Scraps of thread and run away pins are always a safety concern so no slippery floor tiles in the wardrobe—concrete floors throughout. AFA Code requires one dressing room be handicap accessible, and fatigue mats are standard equipment in every dressing room since dancers can’t stand still for 
longer than 15 minutes per fitting. That must be a union rule.

 theatrical wardrobe cabinet


Only costumes for the current jobs are housed inside the wardrobe and the Academy Summer Showcase was on the books the day of our visit. The wardrobe department has moved three times over the years, but the bulk of the costume and prop inventory remains at HB’s warehouse location. The warehouse offers some climate controlled space and houses costumes, props and scenery for the company’s extensive repertoire.
One table in the wardrobe held two partially constructed costumes for Cincinnati Ballet’s all new Nutcracker. Laura’s department is one of only a few professional ballet companies that ‘job out’ work in the off season. This generates income for their department and work for local artisans. Laura shared her complex system for scheduling contract workers around a ballet season. It is extremely important to stay on budget, but also to provide enough work to attract the local artisans. Laura answered all our questions and shared many helpful tips such as where to buy practice tutus, how to clean and care for our purchases, and career opportunities in the arts.
Just a few days later Laura Lynch was seen entering the dance lab to attend one of the performances of the Academy Summer Showcase. She was just another guest—to most, but a few of us seated in the audience knew differently. Our small group of moms will forever remember the day we were invited inside the wardrobe.
Many thanks to Houston Ballet, Laura Lynch, Onie White, and Debby Brown for inviting us inside their new home at the Center for Dance in downtown Houston, Texas.

The Dancers and the Maestro Meet

Photo by Cameron Durham

It’s not easy to enter the Rosa Hart Theatre via the loading dock door during a July deluge, but somehow, photography equipment, costumes, dancers, Lady Holly and Bohuslav Rattay, the charming new conductor of the Lake Charles Symphony, made it. The purpose? A publicity photo shoot for the March 2012 production of The Sleeping BeautyMaestro Rattay kindly took time out of his busy Summer Pops schedule do the shoot with LCCB principal dancers. Bohuslav  (Bo Hu slav, dancers discovered it is pronounced with the accent on the second syllable) is, as Katelyn Chargois put it, “cool.” He is at ease in front of the camera and jokes around on the set. The dancers enjoyed getting to know our new conductor. 
And what about those yellow sneakers? To honor Bohuslav, the girls showed up in colored Converse All Stars, only to discover that the Maestro’s famous footwear is actually a brand called Diesel. He says they are very comfortable.

Photo by Cameron Durham

While on set, Maestro Rattay told me that he is excited about conducting the Tchaikovsky score. Although he has worked with ballet companies in the past, this will be his first time conducting The Sleeping Beauty.
Talk about a busy schedule! Conducting the Lake Charles Symphony is not the Maestro’s only job. He is currently the music director of the Muncie Symphony Orchestra, Ball State University and has a busy guest conducting schedule. Rattay is originally from Prague, Czech Republic, so he also spends time in Europe. Bohuslav has said many times that he loves the people and the culture of Southwest Louisiana, and is most happy to be here. In a recent email conversation he shares, “I am eagerly looking forward to working with the young dance talents of Southwest Louisiana and foreseeing that this production of The Sleeping Beauty will awaken the Lake Charles arts community….. “ All involved believe that when combined, the talents of these two distinct organizations create an electrifying synergy greater than the sum of its parts and will add to an already lively arts season in Southwest Louisiana.

LCCB can’t wait to meet with Bohuslav and the rest of the Lake Charles Symphony orchestra in March. Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 7:00 PM. You won’t be disappointed!

Kelley Saucier
2011-2012 LCCB Board President

LCCB Season Sponsorships are available now, and include tickets to The Sleeping Beauty. Call Kelley Saucier at 337-513-5808 for more information. You may also visit the website at www.lakecharlescivicballet.com.

Lake Charles Symphony Season Memberships are also available now. For more information call their ticket hotline at 337-433-1611 or visit their website at www.lcsymphony.org.

Inside the Wardrobe: Part I

Photo by Katelyn Chargois / fabric bins in Houston Ballet Wardrobe Department
During the last week of Ben Stevenson Academy 2011 Summer Intensive, a select group of moms were given the opportunity to peer inside the wardrobe department of Houston Ballet. Located on the second floor of their new home downtown in Houston Ballet Center for Dance, the Wardrobe Department is expertly managed by Laura Lynch. Laura provided our small group of visiting moms with an insider’s view of ballet wardrobe and costumes. She shared information on the department’s organization, their attention to detail, and the reasons for the bare beauty of their new space. Many thanks to Debby Brown, ‘Onie’ White, and Laura Lynch for sharing their ballet home with us, and this rarely seen view of a professional ballet company.
In a smaller market, a wardrobe department runs with mostly volunteer labor, but a professional company “must” depend on a hired work force. Laura’s team consists of only one volunteer, Hermione ‘Onie’ White, and Onie considers her work in the wardrobe department a labor of love. She shared several of her own personal stories relating to the wardrobe, but one experience appeared particularly special. With instruction and assistance from a visiting designer, Onie constructed her first tutu out of scraps of tulle. Admittedly the adventurous project challenged her skills. Following the designer’s hand drawn sketches and working for over 500 hours on her creation, Onie gained a true understanding and respect for those who work in the wardrobe and costume industry. 
Houston Ballet’s wardrobe department is made up of many different areas each with a specific purpose. There is a shoe wall—no pointe shoes here. HB has a special Shoe Room for pointe shoes. These are all decorative shoes and boots created for the many character costumes. The photo above shows the bins that hold bolts of fabric used by the department. There are rolling tutu trees, library shelving filled with boxes of costume accessories, and many staging areas reserved for precise needs. Along one wall are the Ballet Bibles—one for every ballet. Each bible contains the details for every piece necessary to recreate a costume. Swan Lake has four separate bibles of its own. Onie told us about the Stitch Bible. The book contains directions and details to sew or repair any costume. The directions are very specific. To replace a missing button you must reference details such as the button location on the costume, the fabric, and the stitch to use. If you do not follow the bible details, then you must remove your work and begin again. The strict attention to detail required by the department is one of the many things that makes their business such a success. 
A wardrobe department is truly a magical place. The full-time staff and contract artisans of Houston Ballet work behind the scenes, but their talents are seen by all of us who share a love for ballet and the theatre. We will have more to share on our visit Inside the Wardrobe: Part II.