And What is City Center Ballet?
Linda Copp has been teaching ballet for an astonishing five decades. Her life has always been about dance. She grew up in Burlington, Vermont, then trained with the Hartford Conservatory and later become a soloist with the Connecticut Valley Regional Ballet Company. In 1982, when her family relocated to the Upper Valley from Hartford, Connecticut, she opened the Lebanon Ballet School and began to train young dancers in ballet.
In 1999, Linda realized that her core dancers, a group of dedicated middle and high school students, needed a way to regularly perform in high-level productions. She not only wanted to provide a venue for more performance opportunities but also a chance for the students to dance with international guest artists. City Center Ballet, a performance dance company located in Lebanon, NH, became that venue.
“That’s part of what City Center Ballet’s mission is,” she explained in a Lebanon Chamber interview. “It’s not just always to put on productions, but to provide… the opportunity to be in a full-scale production and experience what that professional world is like.”
Dancers wait to rehearse at a recent Saturday practice for "Alice in Wonderland."
The company generally stages two productions--in May and December--per year. This will be the second time they present Alice in Wonderland. They’ve brought in internationally renowned dancers for many of their productions, and some of City Center’s alumni go on to dance in prestigious companies, like Ballet Austin in Texas.
Linda is dedicated to giving young dancers an excellent start. “These young people are so on top of their game that if anything happens, the dancers are able to absolutely shift in a heartbeat,” she says. “They’re so well trained… and that starts back in the studio. It enables them to be extremely aware of what’s going on.” These are lessons that these young dancers will internalize not just for dance, but for all of life.
Linda explains that the core dancers at City Center learn not just dancing skills, but life skills. They spend such large amounts of time at the studio that they become extremely efficient at schoolwork and other activities. They dedicate a majority of their free time to pushing themselves and working hard at something they love. This usually translates to good choices and success after they graduate from high school and become adults. Ballet creates a stable foundation, which is part of what drives Linda to keep teaching and training, year after year.