Lake Charles Civic Ballet

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Summer Intensive Is Over: Interview with Three LCCB Dancers

Photo by Cameron Durham / Studio Two

Three Lake Charles Civic Ballet (LCCB) company dancers Marietta Campagna, Adrian Durham, and Katelyn Chargois had ‘intense’ summers. All three dancers participated in a classical ballet summer intensive workshop. Marietta has been a Lady Leah Lafargue School of the Dance (LLL) student for almost 10 years. This is her second year as a LCCB dancer, and her second Summer Intensive (SI) with LCCB. 

Adrian started his dance career five years ago with LLL and has been a LCCB company dancer for three years. This year Adrian auditioned and was accepted to Houston Ballet Ben Stevenson Academy 2011 SI. Therefore, three weeks of Adrian‘s summer was spent with LCCB and three weeks with HB in their new Center for Dance. Adrian has now completed five SI’s.
Katelyn recently received her ten year certificate with LLL. She has been a LCCB company dancer for five years and has just completed her seventh SI. Katelyn auditioned this year for Joffrey Ballet in New York and Houston Ballet. She was accepted to both programs, but chose to attend Houston‘s SI. Katelyn attended all six weeks at HB’s Center for Dance. This was Katelyn’s second visit to HB for summer training.

Photo by Cameron Durham / Center for Dance

LCCB caught up with the three dancers to ask them some questions about their SI experiences. A simple interview sounds like it should be easy enough, but these dancers have been busy all summer, and with their upcoming season, it doesn’t look as though it will slow down anytime soon. Below is our question and answer session with the dancers.

LCCB: It’s customary for students to record all corrections given by instructors. What corrections during your SI did you find most beneficial?
Marietta: The corrections most helpful for me were to pull up and to stretch my foot instead of just pointing it.
Adrian: I received two important corrections this summer—while at the barre I have to adjust my core to keep my balance instead of using the barre to keep the balance for me; and there are times when a dancer doesn’t know a step so you need to rely on yourself instead of just following someone else.
Katelyn: I found the corrections on turns to be the most beneficial. We really worked on our body positioning this summer. When you turn you have to hold your core muscles and breathe. One of the main corrections that helped me with my turning was to think of having a short stomach and a long back. 

LCCB: Our company ballet class includes barre exercises and center work to develop proper technique. Tell us how summer intensive was able to develop your ballet class experience and dance training. 

Marietta: During the summer intensive classes we learned new and different combinations which helped me to improve a lot.
Adrian: My studio in Lake Charles has only a few male dancers. In Houston, I had the opportunity to work with a large group of guys. With the larger group, there was a healthy competition between us, and I was able to let my personality come out working with a group of guys.
Katelyn: During regular season your class time is shared—learning technique and choreography. You have more time during summer intensive to break things down and work on the details of your technique. Since there is more class time each dancer gets more individual corrections, too.

LCCB: What were your favorite classes taken this summer?

Marietta: It’s really fun to learn something new so my favorite classes this summer were musical theatre and jazz. I had a lot of fun in those classes.
Adrian: (without hesitation) Weight training—I learned the proper technique for a male dancer. I have used weights in the past, but this summer I realized I wasn’t really working correctly.
Partnering—this class helped me to understand each partner’s responsibility. We are a team, and we have to work together.
Katelyn: My favorite class this summer was Composition Class—we called it comp. I loved this class because you use your ballet training, but comp is an improvisation class. As an assignment, we had to choreograph our own dances using improvisation. Improvisation gives you freedom. In ballet, you’re trained to do steps a certain way—holding your core and pointing your toes. In comp class, you use your ballet training, but you change the order of the steps to make them your own. It really helps dancers to step outside the box and have a little freedom with their dancing. Dancers need this freedom in order to be less tense and more fluid with their movement.

LCCB: How did you feel about the class offerings and instruction by multiple teachers?
Marietta: Multiple teachers really helped me a lot in learning to focus. The instructors all had different personalities, but they were all really fun to work with so I liked the variety of dance and instruction.
Adrian: With a group of guys, we had classes that were focused for the male dancers. My view of barre has new meaning. Before this summer, I felt it was just something we had to do, but now I understand the need to warm up properly and to prepare properly for center.
Katelyn: Having a variety of dance classes helps me be more relaxed in ballet, and learning different dance styles makes you better prepared for a dance career. 
One of the best things for me was working with the different teachers—you don’t have the repetition of having the same teacher every day. Every teacher sees different corrections to give a dancer. Sometimes they even have a different terminology for the steps. It’s good to learn from a variety of teachers so you can learn to take instruction from anyone.

Photo by Cameron Durham / Studio 540
LCCB: What would you say was the most interesting class instruction you received during your SI training? Explain.

     Marietta: I really liked jazz class because my teacher taught us the
     differences. Things like instead of turning out, you turn in and you stay
     in plié for your turns—really good technique in jazz.
     Adrian: My family eats healthy, and I know about eating a balanced 
     diet. Nutrition class was creepy for me because of the photographs of 
     people with eating disorders.
     Katelyn: I would have to choose Pas de Deux Class—which is 
     partnering. At my studio, we don’t have a lot of partners to work with 
     in class, and it’s good to have the experience working with different 
     partners. Your partners can be all different sizes and strengths and 
     you have to be able to work with all of them. This summer our pas 
     teacher emphasized expression in our dancing. That’s always 
     embarrassing when you’re working with a guy that you don’t really
     know, in a room full of students watching you dance, and you have to 
     give expression to your partner and to the music. It really has to flow 
     and look like a pas de deux. That’s one of the hardest things to 
     do—to make it look beautiful.
This year Lake Charles Civic Ballet has put together an exciting season. During December, they will perform Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for school groups as well as a matinee and a gala performance for the community. In March 2012, Lake Charles Civic Ballet will perform a full-length ballet The Sleeping Beauty accompanied by the Lake Charles Symphony in the Rosa Hart Theatre. The training that Marietta, Adrian, and Katelyn gained this summer plays a big part in their preparation for such a daring season.

Pictured in photos from top to bottom: 

past and present LCCB company members – Megan Richard, Addie Saucier, Katelyn Chargois, Adrian Durham, Gabby Saucier, and Marietta Campagna

Adrian Durham and Katelyn Chargois

Adrian Durham w/ other HB SI students

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.

QR Reader and Codes

Soon you will see a QR Code in print from Lake Charles Civic Ballet. We thought a little explanation might be helpful for those of you who have not run across one of these 2-dimensional boxes, or maybe you have and did not know what they could do for you.

How to use a QR Reader from Shannon S. on Vimeo.

‘What are the electrolytes in Gatorade?’

‘…the key electrolytes are the minerals sodium, potassium, and chloride. When athletes sweat they lose electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and chloride that are essential to hydration and muscle function. Unlike water and other beverages that are not scientifically formulated, Gatorade is lab-tested to ensure it helps replenish the electrolytes lost in sweat and stimulates thirst so that athletes will ingest an adequate amount of fluid and electrolytes to stay better well-hydrated compared to when using beverages without electrolytes, particularly sodium.’