Lake Charles Civic Ballet

Posts Tagged ‘character’

Interview with Gabrielle Saucier

Guest Writer: Kelley Saucier, LCCB President

      Well, I might seem a bit biased with this interview, because as you all know by now, I am a proud ballet mom. Even if she didn’t belong to me, I would think Gabby Saucier is pretty special.
     This has been a fabulous year of growth and progress for Gabby in ballet. She played the lead in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in December, 2011. This is a pretty big deal because age 13 at that time and in the 8th grade, she is the youngest lead for Rudolph ever cast. In addition to that, Gabby is the youngest main dancer in the production of The Sleeping Beauty. She plays Fairy of the Enchanted Garden in the prologue, friend to Aurora in Act I and The White Cat in the finale opposite Lake Charles native turned New Yorker William “Billy” Ward who performed for 26 years with the New York City Opera. Gabby is a couple of years younger than her fellow fairies.
     Gabby and I talked about her upcoming roles in The Sleeping Beauty. Being a fairy is quite different from the character roles she is used to, “[Fairy of the Enchanted Garden] is pleasant and graceful. The changes in her character are not as overt, she is more consistent.” Gabby says that being a fairy is fun and she is close friends with her fellow fairies. Although the role has been challenging it is all coming together, “I’ve grown as a dancer and gotten better.”
     The role of The White Cat is one that Gabby really wanted especially because her favorite part about dancing with LCCB is portraying a character. “When we went to Houston Ballet last year to watch their Sleeping Beauty I said, ‘I want that part!’” The pas de deux of The White Cat and Puss in Boots is always a crowd favorite because it is full of comedy. This is Gabby’s first time partnering. She had the opportunity to work with Billy Ward, LCCB’s Puss in Boots, a little bit this summer, which was great. “He is so nice and funny, and really tries to make me feel comfortable. The lift is challenging for me because I have a hard time remembering to lean back, but I’m getting it.” It’s also nice that Billy is finally here in Lake Charles for performance week, “It is fun to act with someone because you can feed off of the other person, and Billy is good actor.” I asked Billy if he has anything to say about working with Gabby, “I’m excited to dance with Gabby; her playful charm and talent match her sweet nature, and she’s a perfect White Cat! Gabby also has the ‘adorable factor,’ that would make any guy in his right mind want to share this role with her. She’s attentive and eager to take advice and apply it quickly to our partnership. It’s a great gift to me when a dancer has no ego and rehearsals flow and become what dance really should be: shared joy. I think when this is all over I’m going to feel a little sad..”
     I think we all will feel a little sad too, Billy. 
     Gabby is the 14 year old daughter of Kelley and Luke Saucier of Lake Charles. She is in the 8th grade at Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School. Gabby has performed in numerous LCCB productions, and fondly remembers her debut performance in 2001 as Raggedy Ann in Rudolph. Gabby recently starred in the title role of Rudolph in the 2011 LCCB Christmas performance. She has studied ballet for 12 years, the last 10 at Lady Leah Lafargue School of the Dance and Lake Charles Civic Ballet. Gabby also participated in summer workshop at Dallas Metropolitan Ballet in 2010.

Top photo (with Ray Delle Robbins) by Cameron Durham / Dance photo by Romero & Romero Photography

Interview with Marissa White

Guest Writer: Kelley Saucier, LCCB President

     Books, barista, ballerina, bed.  Put another way: school, work, studio, sleep. That is how our busy Fairy of the Crystal Fountain, Marissa White, spends her time. As the manager of Joe Muggs coffee shop in Books-A-Million she works about 45 hours per week. Add to that 12 hours of class at McNeese, plus rehearsals at the ballet studio, there is no doubt that Marissa is an expert in time management!
     Marissa’s family has been a part of LCCB from the beginning. Her grandmother, Debi Buras White, founded the company with Lady Leah Lafargue Hathaway in 1968. Over the years the legacy has included many members of the White family; Marissa’s parents, aunt, uncle, sister and cousins have all performed in LCCB productions. Only her brother escaped the stage – it seems Marissa had no choice and lucky us, because she is beautiful!
     I sat down with Marissa to talk about her upcoming roles in The Sleeping Beauty, Fairy of the Crystal Fountain in the Prologue and Princess Florine in the Finale. First, we talked about Fairy of the Crystal Fountain in the Prologue. “The challenge for me is to remain fluid with my arms and continuing the movement. The arms are doing something completely different from the feet. It’s like a river, moving water and fluidity. My costume represents water. I really wanted the part of the Crystal Fountain.”
     Marissa then explained the role of Princess Florine. “Princess Florine is Prince Desire’s sister. She had been trapped in a tower and a blue bird freed her by teaching her to fly away. I imagine that while I’m dancing.” Playing the role of Marissa’s blue bird is David Sanders of Dallas, Texas. David and Marissa danced together in 2008 when David spent a summer here in Lake Charles working with Les Jordan of North Central Ballet.  That connection is the reason David will be joining the LCCB cast of Sleeping Beauty. Marissa says the partnership is going well. “David really works to make me look good, and gives me a lot of security. He’s a big actor and has a big personality. I have to work to match that, so that’s the challenge for me. Also, he’s 6’3” and I’m 5’4”, so I have to dance big. It’s been fun and really nice to reconnect.” In the finale, the beautiful Princess Florine and Blue Bird are guests at the wedding of Princess Aurora and Prince Desire. They dance a beautiful and difficult pas de deux.
     So is Marissa showing any signs of fatigue with her hectic schedule and the big performance looming? No, not at all; as she says, “I stay organized and have my routine.” And now, if you need a good latte, you know where to go!
     Marissa White is the 21 year old daughter of Judy and Mike White. She is a junior accounting major at McNeese State University and manager of Joe Muggs coffee shop. Marissa has trained for 16 years with Lady Leah Lafargue School of the Dance and Lake Charles Civic Ballet. She has been a featured performer in many LCCB productions including Spinster in Daguerreotype, Snow Queen, Reindeer, and Arabain in Rudolph, and Colinda in Louisiana Saturday Night. Marissa hopes to own her own coffee shop one day.

Profile photo by Cameron Durham / Dance photo by Romero & Romero Photography

Interview with Annabelle Bang

Guest Writer: Kelley Saucier, LCCB President

     Annabelle Bang is a cheerleader, honor student, and now, I think she will definitely call herself a ballerina. The 15 year old sophomore at St. Louis Catholic High School plays the roles of the Fairy of the Woodland Glade and Red Riding Hood in the upcoming LCCB production of The Sleeping Beauty. Annabelle says “I never expected to be a fairy, and never thought I would have the opportunity for two solo parts in such a big production.”

     In the beginning of the summer, Annabelle says she was frustrated with the choreography of the Woodland Fairy. “I really wasn’t sure I would get it, but I kept working hard. I am more confident now, and a better dancer. The choreography [of the Woodland Fairy] is not too soft and not too sharp. She feels the music, calling to the forest creatures. I really connect with nature from the choreography and the music.”
     Annabelle says that the role of Red Riding Hood is challenging because of the acting. “I have been working in the mirror at home to be afraid of the wolf. Joel is the nicest guy and such a sweet person, that it’s hard to be afraid of him,” she says of Joel Sanchez, one of the guest artists from Austin, Texas. Annabelle also says that working with Joel has improved her partnering skills, an opportunity she would not have without The Sleeping Beauty production.
     When asked about Annabelle Kisler Hathaway Whitworth, assistant rehearsal director says, “It has been my pleasure to work with Annabelle, individually over the past few months, in preparation for her role in Sleeping Beauty.  As we worked together, she not only accepted and executed the corrections that were given to her, but she also asked questions pertaining to various steps within her piece to solidify that she was doing them correctly.  It is that enthusiasm and willingness to learn, that has propelled her to the level of dance that Lake Charles Civic Ballet expects from its dancers.  Annabelle has such a sweet spirit, and she does a beautiful job conveying that through her solo.
     So what does Annabelle think about the performance now that it is right around the corner? “I am super excited and grateful for the chance to work with the Lake Charles Symphony. I am honored to have the roles I have; it’s weird to think about it now.” Hard work does pay off.
     Annabelle is the 15 year old daughter of Kay and Irvin Bang. She is a sophomore at St. Louis Catholic High School, where she also enjoys being a cheerleader. Annabelle has studied ballet for 10 years with Lady Leah Lafargue School of the Dance and Lake Charles Civic Ballet. She has enjoyed many LCCB productions, and especially remembers being a puppet in Rudolph 2009. She has also been featured in Daguerreotype as one of the twins and in Rudolph 2011 as a Scottish dancer. 

Profile photo by Cameron Durham / Dance photo by Romero & Romero Photography