Lake Charles Civic Ballet

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Posts Tagged ‘dance’

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

Foundation For Life

My name is Billy Ward, and I’m proud to have started my life in dance at Lake Charles Civic Ballet.

My sister Rebecca danced with Lady Leah from as early as I can remember. Lady’s son Bill was a childhood friend of mine, and one day, my brothers (Clay & Norman) and I were enlisted by Bill to work backstage. As we were tying a giant backdrop of Oak Alley to a pipe, readying the stage for one of Lady’s signature ballets, she walked out of the darkness of the upper stage-right wings. She was pure raw energy; you could feel her presence moments before you saw her. Until that day, I’d never met this tiny, confident, beautiful woman. 

She introduced herself: “Hello, I’m Lady Leah, director of the Lake Charles Civic Ballet. Thank you so much for helping us.” Wow! She was the stuff of old southern lore. A lady in all aspects, and the director! I was speechless, which was normal for me at that point in my life, as I’d been diagnosed with an extreme case of dyslexia. I still don’t care much for the word failure, but the fact is before that day, I was a failure. In my childhood, defeat after defeat left me a shell, a numb and frightened kid who didn’t care about learning. I didn’t even want to try anymore. How many times could I take the blame for not applying myself or being lazy? The moment I met Lady Leah, I guess God intervened! 

Lady walked up to me and asked me to take off my shoes and point my foot. Just like that, right out of the blue! I thought, this Lady is nuts! Anyway, you didn’t say no to Lady Leah, so I took off my shoe and mimicked what I thought a pointed foot was. She looked at me and said, “You have to be a dancer.”

I thought; get me out of here quick! No way am I going to do this stuff. I like being around beautiful girls in leotards, but I’m not dancing! Well, the next thing I knew, she had set up a class to teach some of the guys – including my brothers – to learn to lift the girls and to do a polka, in case she needed us for a ballet she was choreographing called Buckskin Believers. In class she started sneaking in a ballet step or two. I remember jumping across the floor with my brothers as Lady counted out the music for us, screaming, “Jump boys!” I was stunned at the joy and camaraderie I felt, doing the step and sharing it with my brothers. It felt right to use my body like this, in a centuries-old art form I was doing without too much difficulty.

About a week later, I showed up for the class but guess who didn’t? All of the other guys! I grabbed my backpack and tried to get out of the room without Lady seeing me, but she nailed me, saying, “Billy Ward get to the barre between Missy and Renee and do what they do.”

I left Lake Charles the next year with a full scholarship to the 2 best ballet schools in America! If it weren’t for Lady being the force of nature and the complete “total theatre” experience she is, my life may have taken another turn. I owe her everything; I learned to believe in myself because of her support and excitement in my dancing. I thank her every day and know even now, as I am still dancing with the New York City Opera, that my wonderful life, my joy, was uncovered for me by her. 

Thank you, Lady, for dreaming and telling me daily you knew I could do it! Nothing is impossible…

Commercial: LCCB 2012 The Sleeping Beauty Ballet

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



Interview with Margaret Lie

Guest Writer: Kelley Saucier, LCCB President

There seems to be no end to the talents of Margaret Lie. This 16 year old junior at St. Louis Catholic High School is serious. Serious about school. Serious about music. And serious about ballet. She is so focused that if you aren’t paying close attention you will miss out on her wry sense of humor, and side-bar jokes. So make no mistake, although she is always the dancer with her books in the dressing room getting all of her homework done, or rushing from Youth Orchestra to Ballet to Student Council, Margaret likes to laugh and have fun!
     So what about playing 3 instruments? Piano, Violin, Flute – she plays them all well. I asked Margaret how that came about. “When I was three, my parents took me to a piano sale and I told them I wanted one, so they bought it and I started lessons. When I was four, I asked for a violin. I had a tiny violin and began taking lessons. Then in fifth grade I joined the school band. The band director told me I needed to play either drums or flute, I said no to the drums, and wasn’t suited for trumpet blowing or anything else, so it was the Flute.”
     Margaret is an honor student with a rigorous academic course load, playing multiple instruments and juggling extracurricular activities besides ballet rehearsals, so I asked her if she sleeps. The answer: “Oh yes. Bedtime is 10:30 PM sharp. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, if its 10:30 PM, I am falling asleep.”
     When I asked Margaret about the upcoming Sleeping Beauty performance with the Lake Charles Symphony, she described the first time she heard the music in the studio, “It really spoke to me. All of the instruments are showcased individually, it’s beautiful. I was in rapture watching the recent showing of the Bolshoi version at Cinemark.”
     Margaret plays the role of the Fairy of the Golden Vine in the prologue of the LCCB production. She says she was “instantly drawn to it because of the combination of intricate footwork and lots of motion. [The Golden Vine Fairy] uses the entire stage.”
     Margaret will also share the stage with Ashley Eaves and Elizabeth (Lizy) Gates as one of the Jeweled Fairies in the finale; Margaret is gold. She says Ashley and Lizy both have great feet and she works hard to synchronize her steps with theirs. The same goes for the Friends of Aurora segment in Act I with Julia Basone, Gabrielle Saucier, and Marissa White. Margaret says that part “requires so much control and lots of unison. It’s tough.”
     So, is the juggling act worth it? Absolutely. “I am blessed to have the opportunity to dance with the Lake Charles Symphony. Live music is very inspiring.”
     Margaret Lie is the 16 year of daughter of Stephanie and Albert Lie of Lake Charles. She is a junior at St. Louis Catholic High School. Margaret has trained for 14 years at the Lady Leah Lafargue School of the Dance and with Lake Charles Civic Ballet. She has performed feature roles in many LCCB productions including Miss Peacock in Clue, Reflection in Debut, Russian and Swiss in Rudolph. She also was a member of the 2004 LCCB cast of Petrushka with the Lake Charles Symphony.


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

Interview with Anne Veillon

Guest Writer: Kelley Saucier, LCCB President

Anne has studied ballet at Lady Leah Lafargue Schoolof the Dance for 11 years, where, since last year, she also teaches younger students ballet. She says that the transition from student to teacher has been challenging and has caused her to really examine her own dancing and technique.
     Even though Lady Leah is no longer teaching at the studio daily, her presence is still felt. Anne remembers her instruction well, “eyebrows up!” She says that Lady Leah really stressed being expressive and playing to the audience. That lesson obviously took root as Lady Holly Hathaway Kaough, current director of Lady Leah’s dance studio and artistic director of LCCB, says that “Anne consistently projects to the audience and maintains her character throughout a role. She performs the entire time she is on stage.” Of Lady Holly, Anne says that she is “one of the kindest, most sincere people I have ever met. She has such love and fire about her, in all areas of life. She is a busy mom and teacher, and I really admire that about her.”
     In Act I of The Sleeping Beauty Anne plays the role of The Village Girl opposite Joel Sanchez of Austin, Texas. Although her partner is out of town, they had the chance to meet this summer, and recently spent a weekend rehearsing here in Lake Charles. She doesn’t foresee any problems getting the choreography perfected for the performance. “[Joel] is a hard worker and he’s the sweetest guy,” Anne said. They are prepared to get the job done.
     Anne says that it is very exciting to be a part of a big ballet and the studio is very alive right now: “We have been working on this since mid-June, so finally, after nine months it is upon us! There is a great deal of fine tuning happening now, some tension and stress too, but that all comes with the anticipation and excitement. It’s really cool to be a part of this big production with the Lake Charles Symphony.”
     Anne is a junior at McNeese State University majoring in Animal Science. The 21 year old daughter of Darlene and the late Eddie Veillon of Lake Charles hopes to work at a zoo one day. She is looking forward to getting some experience this summer as a volunteer at the Baton Rouge Zoo. Anne has performed in many LCCB productions including Daguerreotype, Clue, Rudolph, Little Drummer Boy, and in ACTS Theatre’s Beauty and the Beast. She is an accomplished singer as well.

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

LCCB Profiles: Elizabeth Gates

                          Choreographer

Photo by Cameron Durham / Elizabeth Lauren Gates


LCCB PROFILES — Elizabeth Lauren Gates from Lake Charles Civic Ballet on Vimeo.

Elizabeth ‘Lizy’ Gates trained with Lady Leah Lafargue School of the Dance just prior to attending the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Since school Lizy has been a guest performer with many professional companies and worked as a ballet instructor and choreographer for studios in Louisiana and Texas. Beyond her classical ballet education, Lizy has studied the modern techniques of Martha Graham, Lester Horton, and Merce Cunningham. Her inspiration for her choreography comes from many sources, but she says her main inspiration is the music itself.

This season Lake Charles Civic Ballet is fortunate to have Lake Charles native Elizabeth Gates in the studio working with dancers and participating in our season. During a sneak preview in November, a trio of principal dancers performed Psalm of Spring which was choreographed by Ms. Gates especially for the event. Elizabeth Gates’ Psalm of Spring will be featured at the LCCB Spring Performance later this season.

LCCB Profiles: Katelyn Chargois

LCCB Principal

Photo by Cameron Durham / Katelyn Chargois

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


LCCB PROFILES — Katelyn Chargois from Lake Charles Civic Ballet on Vimeo.


In the studio with Katelyn Chargois and Elizabeth Gates.

Lake Charles Civic Ballet’s founder, Lady Leah Lafargue Hathaway revealed her creative brilliance and artistic vision through dance and the stage. Lady Leah’s genius is found in the company’s extensive repertoire which features numerous ballets created or set by her. She provided a place for artistic talent to develop and for professionals to work. Over the years many artists and guests have shared our studios and worked behind the scenes with photography, lighting, sets, costumes, and choreography.
While our foundation was laid by Lady Leah the next generation continues her legacy and promises to entertain our audiences with the beauty of dance and the stage. Today, the position of artistic director has been passed toLady Holly Hathaway Kaough. She works her magic with the company, but she honors her mother’s vision—a place where artists can work and collaborate with others. The original works of Lady Leah fit seamlessly with exciting new works created by Lady Holly and guest choreographers such as Elizabeth Gates.
In this third video of Karen Wink’s interview series, Karen features LCCB Principal Katelyn Chargois in a studio rehearsal for Elizabeth Gates’ Psalm of Spring. This original piece byElizabethwill be performed at LCCB’s 2012 Spring Performance in May.

LCCB Profiles: Ashley Eaves

                    LCCB Principal
Photo by Cameron Durham / Ashley Eaves


LCCB PROFILES — Ashley Eaves from Lake Charles Civic Ballet on Vimeo.

In the studio with Ashley Eaves and Elizabeth Gates.

Karen Wink caught up with choreographer Elizabeth Gates and three LCCB princpal dancers in the studio. Karen interviewed each of the members during a rehearsal for “Psalm of Spring” created for LCCB by choreographer Elizabeth Gates for our “Season Sneak Preview & Behind the Scenes with LCCB.” The complete piece was performed on Sunday, November 13, 2011. The evening was presented by L’Auberge Lake Charles and hosted by Heather Ieyoub of KVHP Fox29.

The first interview features Principal Ashley Eaves. LCCB looks forward to performing “Psalm of Spring” at our 2012 Spring Performance in May.

A Rudolph Review

Photo by Cameron Durham


Guest Writer: Angie Dilmore

It’s crunch time at the North Pole. Santa and his elves scurry to finish making toys and load the sleigh before their Christmas Eve deadline.

So begins the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Lake Charles Civic Ballet’s thoroughly delightful production last weekend.  I’ve been to several of this company’s performances, and this show was my favorite so far. The elaborate sets and colorful lavish costumes make the stage pop, but it’s the talented dancers who entertain, amuse, and bring the show to life. LCCB performs only original productions. No stale nuts at our Rosa Hart Theater. The company has been thrilling audiences with the Rudolph production every few years since the late 1960s.

The opening scene pays homage to the true nature of the Christmas season with a beautiful dance of Mary, with the Christ child in the manger. Then ballet director Lady Holly introduces Santa Claus. Santa and Mrs. Claus guide the elves through a fun frolicking scene at the North Pole. These young performers enthusiastically dance around the stage with wrapped presents and a myriad of toys. Humor is at the forefront here. The elves then take Santa’s list around the world and we see dancers, veiled in gauzy shadows behind a screen, represent exotic places such as Russia, Hawaii, Scotland, Switzerland, Mexico, Arabia, Holland, and Japan.

We finally have the pleasure of meeting Rudolph when Santa checks to see if the reindeer are ready for their annual trip. He discovers Rudolph feeling sad and alone. The other reindeer shove, snub, or completely ignore Rudolph and her blinking bright red nose. They believably paw at the ground, strut, swagger, and point their noses haughtily in the air. Rudolph tries so hard to make friends with the other reindeer, to no avail. Santa brushes off Rudolph’s woes. Despondent, the little reindeer runs off into the forest. Magical pine trees comfort Rudolph and Eskimo children encourage and lift her spirits.

Then it’s Christmas Eve and we all know the story. Snow and fog threaten Santa’s trek ‘round the world. Here we meet the exquisite Snow Queen, shimmering in a sparkling blue tutu, accompanied by a flurry of graceful snowflakes.

Back at the reindeer stable, Santa realizes Rudolph’s shiny nose can save Christmas. Through the magic of theatrics, the audience sees only the beacon and imagines Santa and his sleigh passing through the rows of seats, up into the balcony, and back towards the stage. The grand finale brings the entire jubilant cast out on stage for bows and a much deserved standing ovation.

Photo by Cameron Durham

Congratulations to the LCCB on an awesome performance! I can’t wait to see Sleeping Beauty in March 2012!