Lake Charles Civic Ballet

Posts Tagged ‘school’

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 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