White River Ballet Academy Celebrates A Decade of Dance
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White River Ballet Academy is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a year-long series of special events you won't want to miss.
I sat down with director Jackie Stanton-Conley, trying to look as graceful as possible in my memory-foam shoes and sensible backpack, to find out more about what brought her here, and how she plans to celebrate ten years of dance instruction in the Upper Valley.
Jackie says she saw a need for classical ballet training in the area and opened WRBA in White River's Freight House building in May of 2008. She outgrew the space in three months. She moved to the Tip Top Building for the next four years until they outgrew that space. Since 2012, WRBA has lived in the heart of the White River arts district at 52 Bridge Street, in a bright and beautifully renovated space designed from the ground up by Daniel Johnson of Watershed Studios.
WRBA will present two exciting shows this year. The first will be an annual holiday performance featuring advanced students in a Student Choreography Presentation, in an in-house showcase at WRBA. Students will not only design the dances, but will also choose their costumes, music, and other elements to gain experience not just in the dance, but in the art of its production of it as well.
Second, their spring performance at the Barrette Center for the Arts will include selections from the Russian ballet "Raymonda," as well as a "greatest hits" compilation of original pieces choreographed by Jackie and instructor Ruth Mayer, a former soloist with the American Ballet Theater.
Jackie and Ruth are the only two Upper Valley ballet instructors certified to teach the American Ballet Theater National Training Curriculum, which means only WRBA students learn the same techniques and styles as dancers in the American Ballet Theater. More importantly, the ABT curriculum trains dance students to use their bodies correctly, focusing on kinetics and coordination, as well as anatomy and proper body alignment. Safety is as important as technique.
WRBA will also host several special guests for master classes, including ABT principal Devon Teuscher, Associate Director of the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory Joan Kunsch, and Jeremy Raia, a Premiere Soloist with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal.
I asked Jackie about her goals as she looks ahead to the next ten years. “To keep going,” she says. “I just want to keep creating new work, and continue bringing ballet to the Upper Valley.”
WRBA offers instruction for students ages 6 and up in ballet, pointe, variations, pre-pointe, pas de deux, yoga, workshops and private lessons. They also offer a drop-in adult ballet class (which I may need to try. Something from my brief dance stint must've stuck).