The Transylvania Times -

Brevard Ballerinas Continue To Dance

 

Last updated 4/15/2020 at 4:29pm

Courtesy Photo

Caroline "CC" Cull follows Angie Wells' ballet instruction on a computer screen.

While some activities might have come to a sudden halt with the advent of COVID-19 restrictions, the dancers of Brevard Ballet have kept their leotards and ballet slippers on.

When it was announced on Saturday, March 14, that county schools would be closed for two weeks beginning Monday, Brevard Ballet Director Angie Wells scrambled to begin offering online classes for her dancers.

"It was a very long Sunday afternoon, that first week," Wells said, as she learned how to use the Zoom app for her three Monday classes.

"I wanted to stay open for the kids to dance as long as possible for their mental and physical well-being," she said.

Since that first day of online classes, Brevard Ballet students haven't missed a beat in preparing for their spring recital, scheduled for Saturday, May 30, at Brevard High School.

Wells has been pleased with the response of students and parents to her virtual classes.

"Parents of students are glad for the routine and the normalcy of attending classes," Wells said. "Everyone dresses in their uniforms and puts their hair up in buns. It's pretty much the same, except that I modify some of the floor work or provide alternatives to adapt to different dance surfaces in individual homes."

She also gets a small-screen view of her dancers' lives.

"I see their parents and all of the cats and dogs and younger siblings. It's like I'm invited into everyone's home," she said.

Sara Cull, whose three children take ballet classes, said it's been great to see 8-year-old Molly and 6-year old CC, "so completely focused and engrossed in their lessons."

Maintaining attention for her 3-year-old daughter, Ada, has been more of a challenge. She was pleased that Wells shortened the class time for that age group and increased the class meetings to twice a week to help these students with their at-home classes, where distractions can be a problem.

When Wells first started offering online classes, and before Gov. Roy Cooper's stay-at-home order, she gave her oldest dancers the option of taking online classes or coming to the studio for class and rehearsals.

She was able to create social distance for this smaller group of dancers by having only one student per barre, one student in the dressing room at a time, sanitizing surfaces regularly and using existing tape on the floor surface to mark lengths of 6 feet.

Now with the statewide stay-at-home order, all the dancers take class and attend rehearsals via Zoom. The positive attitude of the dancers to this new way of learning has been heartening.

"They smile and thank me. The attendance of the older dancers has been impeccable," she said.

One of those dancers, 16-year-old Ada Weaver, is appreciative of the opportunity to keep up with ballet, get some exercise and stay in shape.

"One of my favorite things is at the end of class when everyone says hello to each other," she said.

Weaver practices in her living room or bedroom, depending on what's going on in her house. She uses a chair as a barre, stacking heavy books on it to make it immobile.

Before COVID-19 concerns entered Transylvania County, the dancers of Brevard Ballet were preparing for American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Student Exam-inations and a master class with one of the authors of ABT's National Training Curriculum, Franco De Vita.

Wells was especially anticipating De Vita's instruction of her students because of his preeminence in the field of dance.

Under his leadership, the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onnasis School was named the world's most outstanding ballet academy in 2012.

The examinations, scheduled for this month, have been cancelled, but Wells is certain that the dancers' work preparing for them has paid off.

"We were ready. We were going to peak at the right time, but now it's time to do something new and something fresh," Wells said.

In addition to their class work, students are learning choreography for their spring production. Wells admits that teaching ballet formations to her youngest dancers while they're practicing at home is near impossible, so she's working on dances that the students will perform in unison.

"The recital is really about the kids, after all of this, getting them on stage and letting them perform and have a good time," she said.

The older dancers are continuing to rehearse the choreography they learned earlier in the year before COVID-19 restrictions began.

Students in the upper level class will perform solos on pointe choreographed by Wells.

In addition, Thomas Shoemaker, of the South Carolina Governor's School, will again add his choreography to music from the classic ballet, Coppelia.

It will feature two soloists from Brevard Ballet, and depending on COVID-19 restrictions in May, two soloists from the SC Governor's School.

Students from all classes will be dancing to music from the ballet "Le Corsaire," choreographed by Wells.

Families of Brevard Ballet students, like many in the community, are facing financial hardships during this difficult economic time.

Contributions to Bre-vard Ballet, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization are being gratefully accepted to help provide tuition support for these dancers.

For more information on Brevard Ballet or to help support it, visit the website,

http://www.brevardballet.org or contact Wells at [email protected]

 
 

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