Broadway productions and other theatrical performances outside the gates often run for weeks at a time. At Chautauqua Institution, many performances and lectures are seen by audiences only once.
With 50 years of experience in teaching, Maris Battaglia knows a thing or two about dance education.
Mark Diamond is known for his creative narratives, but his piece “Into the Fray,” choreographed for the School of Dance Student Gala, may spin his most creative web yet: The audience will be shrunk down to ant size and immersed in his “insect ballet.”
This weekend marks the last opportunity for the community to enjoy the talents of Chautauqua’s student dancers before their season concludes. The second annual Student Gala, which features both workshop and festival students, will take place at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Amphitheater.
Chautauqua Dance’s student gala is like a buffet. It serves up a little taste of everything: a sweet smackerel of classical ballet, a fresh morsel of new choreography and a savory glimpse of student performers ranging all across the skill spectrum of dance.
In the dancer’s lounge at the Carnahan-Jackson Dance Studio, photographs of legendary dancers and faculty members of Chautauqua Dance’s past and present line the walls. Maris Battaglia couldn’t help gravitating toward these pictures in a room filled with not only some of her idols, but also some of her greatest friends.
For 10 days, Daily photographer Lauren Rock followed Chautauqua School of Dance Workshop II students, ages 13-15, through their classes and final Amphitheater performance to document the commitment and discipline required of a young ballerina.
“These girls are very young, but they are serious about dance,” Rock said. “Attending the School of Dance is one small step on their journey to becoming professional ballerinas. They learn to become adaptable — those who can pick up choreography quickly and adapt to different instructors and their styles are more likely to be successful. The dancers learn discipline and the importance of taking care of themselves and working hard to maintain the best physical form possible.”
The audience in the Amphitheater enjoyed a look into the future Sunday afternoon and saw that it is full of excellence and adventure — and that there is hope. The future, we saw, loves beauty and doesn’t shirk from difficulty or from ideas thought impossible.
There is a strong sense of community in this future, foretold by the young dancers gathered to present the Chautauqua Dance Student Gala, a presentation by Chautauqua Festival and Workshop Dancers, under the direction for the past 30 years, of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux.
A banner on stage, in fact, announced this year of celebration, a legacy looking back upon a “Rich Tradition” and forward to an “Exciting Future,” and Bonnefoux and his Associate Director Maris Battaglia also took opportunity to memorialize contributions of the late Ed Anderson and Margery Gootnik, volunteers with the School of Dance, who were like family.
Mimi Eddleman and Maris Battaglia have been in the ballet world for years.
Eddleman, founding co-president of the Chautauqua Dance Circle, still takes classes in New Jersey. Battaglia, member of the CDC and frequent guest speaker, has taught the Workshop dancers at Chautauqua Dance for 22 years.
The two will merge their knowledge of ballet at 3:30 p.m. today in Smith Wilkes Hall in a lecture titled “20 Ballet Steps that Everyone Should Know.”