I adored performing in Ballet Austin’s Community Education programs when I was a Professional Division Trainee during 2006-2008. If you’ve never swung upside-down as a kangaroo in front of cheering kids, you don’t know what you’re missing. It was always a delight to see kids inspired and engaged by Build-A-Ballet programs featuring Stephen Mills’ Carnival of the Animals, to say nothing of the infectious glee shared by Family Dance Workshop participants and The Nutcracker School Show audiences. So when I was asked by Michelle Martin (Ballet Austin’s Associate Artistic Director) to be the choreographer for a new educational program entitled Symphony of Clouds, I was thrilled… but frankly, my knees knocked together with surprising speed and painful forcefulness. I knew from personal experience how Ballet Austin’s educational programs are both substantive and entertaining, and how they have the capacity to spark creativity and broaden horizons… No pressure, right?
Symphony of Clouds is the latest offering in Ballet Austin’s Arts Blitz program. Every year, the Arts Blitz team (Ballet Austin, Pollyanna Theatre Company, and the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum) bring innovative dance-theatre productions to hundreds of area students, and provide classroom educators with associated curricula and Continuing Professional Education credits.
Symphony of Clouds brings the story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to life with spoken-word dialogue, dance, and, of course, the masterful music of Mozart. The stars are actors from Pollyanna Theatre Company and dancers from Ballet Austin’s Professional Division Trainee program (my alma mater!). Luckily for me, the production blossomed into being with the direction of Pollyanna Theatre Company’s ever-enthusiastic Judy Matetzschk-Campbell, and with the rehearsal direction of Ballet Austin’s talented and tireless Jaime Lynn Witts.
On January 27, 2011, approximately 300 students at Pleasant Hill Elementary cheered a young “Wolfie” Mozart on as he wowed exuberant European Empresses, encountered a squawking chicken, laughed at the antics of a dancing juggler and his comically clumsy sidekicks, marveled at mustachioed musical maestros, and jiggled and jived with merrily mischievous piano keys… in short, they experienced the production Symphony of Clouds. Hooray!
Not a student or educator in an elementary school? Not to worry! Public shows are offered at Ballet Austin’s AustinVentures StudioTheatre on Feb 5 – 6, 2011 at 2:30pm and 4:00pm, for only $12 per ticket. The production is one hour long. Hope to see you there!
For tickets and more information click here.