Lake Charles Civic Ballet

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Posts Tagged ‘Rudolph’

Interview with Julia Basone

Guest Writer: Kelley Saucier, LCCB President

     I can tell you from hanging around the studio and theatre, that dancers are most definitely athletes. The beauty and grace you see on stage has a lot of blood, sweat and tears behind it. No pain, no gain? You bet! I have seen more bloody bruised toenails on these dancers’ feet than I ever did when I was running marathons – note the past tense. Not to worry, Julia Basone is part of the Sleeping Beauty cast and she brings with her some very special skills learned during her time as a trainer for the St. Louis Catholic High School athletic teams.
     Most everything Julia has learned as an athletic trainer has been useful in treating herself as a dancer-athlete. “I have learned how to tape wrists and ankles, how to use ice packs, the correct heating pad temperature, when to use heat and when to use cold. It has also been great because I want to go into physical therapy for my profession.” While Julia mostly works with the football teams, she spends the entire school year in athletic PE where she treats any athlete who may need assistance, basketball players, soccer players, you name the sport. I asked her if she could see a connection between ballet and football, “Yes. In ballet, your technique has to be perfect and we learn patterns in choreography. That is sort of like their plays on the field.”
     Julia and I talked about her roles in The Sleeping Beauty, Fairy of the Songbirds in the prologue, and Cinderella with Adrian Durham in the finale. “There has been a big transition from the summer. This has been a year of growth because of the amount of work that has gone into the parts I wanted. It’s the biggest year yet!I initially wanted Annabelle’s (Bang) part and Annabelle wanted mine. We had a bet that she would get the part I wanted and I would get hers – and that is exactly what happened.” I asked her about the difficulty of her fairy role, also called Canary Fairy, because it is so quick and bird-like. “If I miss one step, I could be done. I have to hear every single note and stay with it. The jump is awkward, but it has become natural to me. My pointe work is so much better now.”
     Julia’s partnership with Adrian Durham, Prince Charming to her Cinderella is very comfortable. Although they learned the choreography later than their other parts in the ballet, it has been easy and they are having a lot of fun working together. They are frequent partners in the studio and shared the stage in the Russian dance during Rudolph this past December.
     So what does it feel like now that opening night of The Sleeping Beauty is almost here? “I am happy because as a ballet company we are stronger. Everything has come together so nicely. I feel like I am coming out of my shell because this is my first solo and I’m glad I have the opportunity to do it. I am excited to work with the Symphony, and if they happen to slow down Canary, well, don’t tell Lady Holly, but I won’t complain.” Funny, Julia – we know you can handle the tempo beautifully and we can’t wait to see it on Saturday night!
     Julia is the 15 year old daughter of Robin and Sigmund Basone of Lake Charles. She is a sophomore at St. Louis Catholic High School. Julia has trained for 11 years with Lady Leah Lafargue School of the Dance and Lake Charles Civic Ballet. She has participated in many LCCB productions, but especially remembers being harnessed and flying away as the Balloon Girl in Carnival in Venice 2010. Most recently Julia played the Kari Doll and Russian Dancer in Rudolph 2011. 

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

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 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

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!