Sunday, May 11, 2003

'Recitals' showcase top students

Schools partner with professionals

By Carol Norris
Enquirer contributor

Anyone who learned to dance at their neighborhood studio feels a special nostalgia this time of year for that annual ritual, the dance recital. It's the occasion when tiny dancers in pink tutus and tightly pinned buns spin and twirl for beaming moms, dads and grandparents.

Cincinnati has a number of performances that go beyond the recital. They are designed to help young performers bridge the gap from student to professional.

Here are three groups that present Tristate dancers in performances that go beyond the recital format.

• Cincinnati Ballet's Budig Academy combined professional dancers from the company with 100 students for two performances of Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs and the Witch at Sycamore Junior High School May 3.

Next up, the company's Janessa Touchet and Gregg Saulnier will perform with advanced students from the school in a new version of Beauty & the Beast.

Choreographed by school director Daniel R. Simmons, the ballet marks the beginning of a collaboration using musicians from University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music's Starling Chamber Orchestra, directed by Kurt Sassmanshaus.

Starling musicians Christoph Cameron, cello, and Charles Yang, violin, will be onstage with dancers for portions of the ballet. Future collaborations are in the works, including a combined performance at CCM in the fall for the Festival of the New.

Beauty & the Beast: 7 p.m. May 30-31; 2 p.m. May 31; Jarson-Kaplan Theater, Aronoff Center and 7 p.m. June 6-7; Northern Kentucky University, Corbett Theater; $18-$25;; 621-5282.

• Claudia Rudolf Barrett's ballet tech ohio is presenting Frederic Franklin's beloved version of the full-length story ballet Coppelia. Richmond Ballet's artistic director, Malcolm Burm, is staging Franklin's choreography for dancers on loan from Cincinnati Ballet - Sarah Hairston, Andrey Kasatsky and Michael Wardlaw - and Richmond Ballet's Phillip Skaggs.

Joining them onstage will be advanced students from ballet tech: 8 p.m. May 16-17, 2 p.m. May 17; Jarson-Kaplan Theater, Aronoff Center, $18; Aronoff Center and Music Hall box offices, Ticketmaster locations, and 241-7469.

• Lastly is the Choreographer's Showcase at UC. Works are created by CCM's dance division student choreographers in preparation for their move from students to graduates to professionals: 8 p.m., May 23-24, Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM, Free.

Changes at Ballet: Cincinnati Ballet's recently completed season marked a number of changes within its structure.

The company has nine different rankings, beginning with supplemental dancer and building to principal. Anthony Krutzkamp has advanced from corps de ballet to soloist; apprentices Laura Dunlop, Staisha Grosch and Amanda Jesse have made it to new dancer; and Heather Liberman becomes the first Budig Academy student to be accepted into the company as an apprentice.

Kirk Peterson was named resident choreographer. The former principal with American Ballet Theater and San Francisco Ballet will continue to serve in his current position as ABT's ballet master.

He's created or restaged a ballet for Cincinnati every year for the last five years, a pattern artistic director Victoria Morgan wants to guarantee will continue.

Next season the company will perform his short work "Amazed in Burning Dreams" with music by Phillip Glass during its "Come Together Festival" in March.

'In My Life': On a personal note, some years back, when my 17-year-old daughter was still in grade school, I taught tap dance to students at her elementary school. It was an experience that I wrote about in this newspaper's "In My Life" column.

A Tristate reader, Lou Peller, read the story and sent me a letter at the paper asking how he could join the class. He said it sounded like fun. He was in his 80s at the time.

I wrote back encouraging him to try out some of the local tap teachers I knew of and sent him their numbers. I was worried about the elderly Amberley Village resident driving all the way to Indiana each week, although the kids would have welcomed him.

Although I never met him, I would get Christmas season notes from Mr. Peller after that. These were rhymed updates on his current goings-on that he apparently sent to friends and family. He usually signed them "keep on dancing."

I received my last rhyme from him in April. It was his way of letting his friends and relatives know that he had died. He had someone in his family send out his pre-written, addressed and stamped poems.

In reading his obit in this paper I learned he loved ballroom dancing and had won awards at the Senior Expo at Coney Island, enjoyed square dancing at the Hayloft Barn and traveled the country with partner Vi Roth dancing in polka fests.

I dug out his first rhyme to me and laughed when I read it. I'll share:

Why can't I be invited to join your class,

To learn to tap, and to get off my a--,

If my mind is willing, then I am not too old,

A concept of which I hope you are "sold."

So, even though I am 85,

I would like to rock, roll and jive.

But I prefer to learn to tap,

Even though an audience will never clap.

Perhaps, I can be a role model of worth,

And be regarded as an asset while on earth.

I would like to know what you think,

Preferably, as quickly as an eye's blink!

He signed it "Have car - will travel," Lou Peller. I doubt I'm the only one who will miss his musings.


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