This is the eighth installment in our Assemblé 2014 blog series. Tricia Lundy Barrow (original cast member of Louisiana Saturday Night) shares her memories from the original production and leaves a great message to all dancers. We are thrilled to have her help this year! Tickets are now on sale and are available at the Civic Center Box Office or www.ticketmaster.com See Assemblé 2014 March 22 and 23 at Rosa Hart Theatre!
By Tricia Lundy Barrow
Returning to Lake Charles Civic Ballet as an instructor for the 2013-2014 season continues to fill my heart with joy, as I have the opportunity to give back to a studio that helped bring my dream to fruition many years ago. Part of that joyful experience is the opportunity to assist talented young dancers in staging Louisiana Saturday Night for Assemble 2014, a unique ballet full of Louisiana culture and character, originally choreographed by Lady Holly in 1996, in which I performed a leading role, Jolie Blonde, in the original cast.
First, I must comment on the idea and opportunity for young dancers to participate in a performance such as Assemble 2014. Assemble truly brings the complete theatre experience to the dancers of LCCB, an experience few dancers have in a community the size of Lake Charles. LCCB dancers perform to live music, with not only the Lake Charles Symphony, but also a live Cajun band, teaching the dancers to adapt on stage to various tempos in music. They also collaborate with other community artists and choreographers, exposing them to musical theatre and other dance styles, which helps broadens their skill set for a possible professional dance career in the future. Having danced professionally for a ballet company, I saw first-hand the benefit of not “putting all your eggs in one basket” and learning to adapt to many avenues in the theatre, whether it be classical ballet, modern, jazz, tap, or musical theatre. Having a range of skills will set one apart in a very small, competitive world.
In my approximate 20 years dancing, no other ballet fills my heart with quite as much excitement as Louisiana Saturday Night. I was a junior in high school when Holly, once again, out did herself choreographing Louisiana Saturday Night. This was a crucial time during my ballet life, as I was auditioning for college dance programs and summer intensive programs, building my dance resume and technical ability. Preparing for Louisiana Saturday Night assisted my leap forward. The stamina required to perform the ballet might be comparable to running a marathon, except with pointed feet, turned-out legs, beautiful extension, and of course, beautiful grand jetés and pirouettes. The ballet required excellent technique but with the freedom to characterize your arms and head, non-traditional of classical ballet, and the freedom to laugh, flirt, and dance on stage like one was attending a party with friends. Perhaps that’s one explanation for a heart filled with excitement,
because I simultaneously enjoyed three of my favorite things – classical ballet, socializing, and dancing to live music. The unique partnering exposure and experience in the piece helped build my skill set and technical strength. As I watch the original videos, teaching the choreography to the present day LCCB dancers, I am flooded with many fond memories, but I also recognize how blessed I was to have Holly, such a young talented choreographer, who could truly take each person’s strengths and personality, magnifying them on stage through dance to create a beautiful ballet. The Gala finale placement of the piece both at the Southwest Regional Ballet Association Festival in 1996 and the National Festival in 1997 confirmed the unique choreography as well as the technical strength of the LCCB Company. The last piece placed on the Gala performance is considered the highest honor at Festival, and Louisiana Saturday Night performed last at Gala for the National performance in 1997. What a great honor to have the best placement in the nation!
I am so honored to share such a ballet with the LCCB dancers. I encourage each dancer to have fun rehearsing and performing Louisiana Saturday Night and to take advantage of all rehearsal time, pushing yourselves to perform the piece to the best of your ability, so that it, too, can help you leap forward, enhancing your ballet opportunities and dreams. Thank you, LCCB, for allowing me to be a part of your production!
Head shot by Danley Romero