Lake Charles Civic Ballet

Posts Tagged ‘Lady Leah’

Interview with Adelaide Saucier

Guest Writer: Kelley Saucier, LCCB President

Lake Charles Civic Ballet Principal Adelaide Saucier
     So let me introduce you to my eldest daughter, Adelaide. I can’t believe that she will be graduating from High School this May! It’s because of her that I am here writing all of these ballet company interviews, spending all of my time at the theatre and talking to Lady Holly 100 times a day. She had just turned three when I enrolled her in ballet class because that was what everyone else was doing. In third grade she quit other activities and said, “This is what I want to do.” It was her choice. I had no intention of being a ballet mom, having never spent any time at the barre myself. Yet here I am, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
     Adelaide has the great fortune to play Lilac Fairy, Queen of all the Fairies in The Sleeping Beauty. I asked Addie what the challenge is in being Lilac. Her answer: “What isn’t the challenge of Lilac? There are super challenging steps throughout the ballet. I have to be a leader and act regal, queenly. It’s fun. I am really enjoying it and it has helped me to improve as a dancer. My partnering skills have improved immensely.” In Act II, Lilac has a long partnering sequence with the Prince, Drew Anderson. Adelaide and Drew have been partners many times and I asked about their relationship. “Lady Holly says he calms me down and I give him confidence. It’s a great relationship. We are like brother and sister, and it translates well in our partnership. We have a lot of trust in each other.”
     Lilac Fairy is one of the leads of the ballet and she is in all four acts, so Addie and I talked about her stamina. “I am going to need about two gallons of water pre-intermission and two gallons post intermission, and I will be sucking oxygen in the wings. In Act I, the Birthday Party Scene, I am on pointe the whole time doing all of these bourres. It seems and appears easy, but it is so tough, and I have to look calm and pretty. There can be no tears. We have established levels of difficulty during Sleeping Beauty. The dancers have developed a code and hand gestures to express those levels as part of our comic relief. It’s ‘Fairy Bonding.’ Those bourres are a HIGH level!”
     Kisler Hathaway Whitworth, assistant rehearsal director, daughter of Lady Leah Lafargue Hathaway, artistic director emeritus, has been an important part of the training process for Sleeping Beauty. Addie says, “Kisler has really helped everyone so much, she has put so much into it, she’s great. She’s super positive. If you’re having trouble with a step, she just looks at you and can tell you how to fix it. I know that there is no way I’d be doing my variations as well as I am without her help. She’s really funny and a ham. She’s performing in the ballet and she’s still got it; she’s a pro.”
     Adelaide is grateful for the opportunity to perform a full length ballet with the Symphony with the amazing costumes and sets, and especially the growth as a dancer. This has translated into some great choices for her future – so where will she go to college? “I am still undecided. I am just excited to have choices. But wherever I am, dance will be a part of my life.”
     I said at the beginning of this piece that I am grateful too. For 15 years it has been my joy to watch Adelaide and Gabrielle enjoy the art and discipline of classical ballet and to participate behind the scenes. I never would have imagined my life as a ballet mom, but I have had the most fun being a part of LCCB. Adelaide made a great choice for herself, and for me. I think she will continue to make great choices in life. Who knows where she will lead me next.
     Adelaide is the 17 year old daughter of Kelley and Luke Saucier of Lake Charles. She is a senior at St. Louis Catholic High School. Adelaide has studied ballet for 15 years, the last 10 with Lady Leah Lafargue School of the Dance and Lake Charles Civic Ballet; in addition she has participated in summer intensive workshops at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and Dallas Metropolitan Ballet. Over the years, lead roles in LCCB productions have included The Flirt in Daguerreotype 2007 and 2010, Clemmy in Once Told to Me, Mary and Snow Queen in Rudolph. She also was a part of the 2004 cast of Petrouchka with the Lake Charles Symphony. Adelaide is still deciding where she will attend college next year, but has been accepted to dance programs at Chapman University in Orange, California, Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas where she is an alternate for the Nordan Fine Arts Scholarship, and has received a Loyola Scholar Award to Loyola University in New Orleans.


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

Interview with Adrian Durham

Guest Writer: Kelley Saucier, LCCB President

     Well, there aren’t that many guys at the ballet studio. The men are definitely outnumbered, but that hasn’t deterred 15 year old Adrian Durham. He’s at the studio as much as the girls, working hard and perfecting his craft.
     I’ve been around the studio a great deal during my time on the board, gotten to know the kids, but I realized that I had never talked to Adrian about how he arrived here. It turns out to be one of those stories you hear about in the movies about a movie. “I saw the movie Bojangles with Gregory Hines. After that, I started tap dancing all over the house. Margaret’s mom, Mrs. Lie, suggested I come to the studio to take tap. Then Lady Leah got me to be a Robot in Rudolph. That started my transition to ballet, and then I gave up tap.”
     Wow, just like that! Now Adrian not only takes company classes and rehearses 5-6 days per week, but he attended the Houston Ballet Academy’s 2011 Summer Intensive and has been accepted to attend the 2012 Houston Ballet Summer Intensive. That’s intense training! I asked him how he decided to audition that first time in 2011. “Well, Katelyn’s mom, Mrs. Rhonda, suggested it, and I thought, ‘Why not?’ I wasn’t really serious about it; I just figured I’d try. Then I got in, so I decided I should go. That was the turning point. I loved it. Before Houston, I liked ballet, but after Houston, I decided that is definitely what I want to do. I would like to get into Houston Ballet and stay there after I graduate from High School.”
     Houston Ballet has not only inspired Adrian’s dream for a future in ballet, but it really gave him an opportunity to work with more male dancers and to focus on those skills particular to their gender. He says it was perfect timing because he may not have gotten the parts he has for Sleeping Beauty and Rudolph without that training. Both performances have included partnering skills, and he was able to do quite a bit of that in Houston.
     In both Sleeping Beauty and Rudolph, Adrian partners with Julia Basone. He says that they are very comfortable with the partnership and have worked together quite a bit in the studio. Their Russian dance in Rudolph was certainly a big hit with Lady Leah Lafargue Hathaway, artistic director emeritus of LCCB. I was watching one of the performances with her when she asked, “Who is that young man?” I answered, and she got over the fact that the young Robot is now a young man, she said, “Well, we need to use him more. He knows what he’s doing!”
     And that is why LCCB is grateful for the movie Bojangles!
     Adrian is the 15 year old son of Pat and Arthur Durham of Lake Charles. He is a homeschooled sophomore. Adrian has trained for 6 years with Lady Leah Lafargue School of the Dance and Lake Charles Civic Ballet. In 2011 Adrian participated in the Houston Ballet Academy’s Summer Intensive and will attend again in 2012. Adrian has been in many LCCB productions, most recently sharing the stage with Julia Basone as Russian Dancers in the 2011 Rudolph production. They are pleased to be partnering in The Sleeping Beauty finale as Cinderella and Prince Charming.

Photos by Cameron Durham

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…

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

Not Just Another Walk in the Park

 Photos from 2010 Alzheimer’s Walk ‘Team Lady’

Guest Writer: Chelsey Orr

Alzheimer’s disease affects many individuals and their families, but often gets overlooked because it progresses slowly and its victims can survive many years with it. Just because these victims can live with the degenerating disease does not mean that the impact it has on the individual and their family is any less than those who suffer from cancer or heart disease.

            My mother, Lady Leah, has accomplished so much in her lifetime. Whether it was through her many friendships or her creative imagination, she could bring a smile to anyone’s face. She always put her best foot forward and truly brought life and enjoyment to every ballet she created and that we still enjoy to this day.

            In an extremely tragic turn of events, this wonderful “Lady” that worked so hard and had such an incredible imagination, ended up with this horrible disease. It is sobering to think of this beautiful woman and her equally beautiful mind being struck with such a horrible fate.

            When something this tragic hits so close to home, the need and desire for action becomes much clearer. It is for Lady Leah and the millions of others that are affected by this disease that we are raising awareness and funds to help cure Alzheimer’s and keep it from being the “Forgotten Disease!”

            For more info on the Alzheimer’s Walk and the group set up for Lady Leah join our facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/groups/231518163536443?ap=1 or contact: Chelsey Orr (337) 304-0059