By Lauren Quesenberry
More than 400 guests filled the Earl Dickinson Theater at Piedmont Virginia Community College May 18 for Albemarle Ballet Theatre’s (ABT) and Studio for the Performing Arts’ ninth Spring Dance Gala.
The dance school based in downtown Crozet continues to highlight the community’s outstanding talent with diverse performances and energetic collaboration. This year’s Gala included everything from Irish step dancing to modern fusion and a witty “Carnival of the Animals” based on Ogden Nash’s poetry.
Sally Hart, founder and director of ABT and SFTPA, creates performances where professionals dance alongside students of all ages and levels. Mrs. Hart believes this teaches young dancers what it is like to take initiative and become inspired through dance. “I am trying to really expose [the children] to what dance is about,” Hart said. “It can be more than about just steps. You can tell a story. You can connect with your audience.”
The performance opened up with “Roaring Back,” a re-creation of the Charleston from 1920s America. A group of young ABT dancers made their way on stage to warm up for a show where they found a trunk of costumes and accessories. They dove into the treasures and with the boas to the flapper dresses and feather headdresses, the 20s were alive again.
ABT advanced students performed “Tri, Tin, Tres” choreographed by Veronica Hart to capture the identity and uniqueness of three cultures (Ireland, India and Latin America). The title translated is the number “three” in Gaelic, Hindi, and Spanish. The Latin American section “Tres” closed the suite with an intoxicating salsa fusion piece to Rodrigo y Gabriella’s “Diablo Rojo.” Nicky (Hart) Coelho of James Sewell Ballet performed a solo alongside ABT’s advanced dancers.
concorDance contemporary (cDc) performed “Salt and Light” to a medley of soulful gospel tunes. Professional dancers Veronica Hart, Kirsten Glaser and Alanna Mahon exemplified the art of movement with a mixture of West African, Haitian, Brazilian and modern dance. Alanna Mahon began dancing with Sally Hart when she was four-years old. cDc is a Crozet based professional dance company founded by Veronica Hart.
The finale, “Carnival of the Animals,” was jointly choreographed by the schools’ teachers Ashley Geisler, Dinah Gray, Sally Hart, Veronica Hart, and Moira Price and incorporated the youngest of dancers—age 5—and the school’s 18-year-old advanced dancers.
This year’s gala was an incredible success. It is difficult to imagine how each year ABT performances continue getting better, but they do. Hart said that it would be impossible without her talented students, their supportive families, volunteers and sponsors.
Income from the Gala supports SFTPA’s “Dancing Off The Streets,” need-based scholarship fund that has provided more than $60 thousand in dance scholarships to more than fifty local students. The event was cosponsored by Charlottesville Self Storage in Crozet.
Find more information about the studio at www.aBallet.org or email [email protected]