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Ballet Ensemble of Texas
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Press Releases and Reviews

Reviews and Press Releases ....

“Aurora’s Wedding” and Other Ballets

Auroras Wedding

March 31st and April 1st are two dates that you absolutely need to save on your calendars. The Ballet Ensemble of Texas directed by Allan Kinzie will be featuring “Aurora’s Wedding” and Other Ballets at the Irving Arts Center and the evening of dance will be tremendous. The night will open with “Tarantella” which is an action packed bravura ballet choreographed by Lisa Slagle with music by Louis Gottschalk. This work has been performed in Canada and is sure to please both ballet aficionados and audience members new to the art form. The second ballet will be “Flower Festival at Genzano” Pas de Deux. This work will be performed by Oklahoma City Ballet Guest Artists Rayleigh Vendt (Ballet Ensemble of Texas alumnus) and Walker Martin and was choreographed by the founder of the Royal Danish Ballet, August Bournonville. It is an example of the purest form of 19th century ballet and excels in beautiful partnering and delicate footwork infused with graceful artistic lines. Closing the first act of the evening will be a world premiere of “generation#” choreographed by Tammie Reinsch. This creation takes a whimsical look at today’s technology and the people that use them so be prepared to laugh! The second act of the program will be “Aurora’s Wedding” choreographed by the king of 19th century ballet, Marius Petipa. Petipa of course is responsible for such notable works as “The Nutcracker”, “Swan Lake” and “Paquita” to name but a few. The version performed by the Ballet Ensemble of Texas is a Russian version that was set by Anna-Marie Holmes. Ms. Holmes is a frequent coach for American Ballet Theatre and travels worldwide to multiple companies and is a renowned specialist in the works of Petipa. This version she learned from Bronislava Nijinska while dancing in Russia. Both performances will be at 7:30 pm and will take place at the Irving Arts Center located at 3333 N. MacArthur Boulevard, Irving, TX 75062. $30 adults, $25 students and seniors. 972-252-ARTS. www.irvingartscenter.com     


Let It Snow

Ballet Ensemble of Texas delivers a nicely danced but overcrowded The Nutcracker.
by Cheryl Callon
published Friday, December 9,2016

Irving – The number of Nutcrackers filling the Metroplex are as numerous as the snowflakes we wish would fall, and luckily each one is as unique as every fluttering piece of white stuff that hopefully will appear this year. Ballet Ensemble of Texas presents a fairly traditional The Nutcracker at the Irving Arts Center, but it contains the most unique staging in the area.
Artistic Director Allan Kinzie works with choreographers Tammy Reinsch and Jenny Johnston and artistic advisor Lisa Slagle to display a staggering number of dancers and show off its shining stars.
The ballet begins (as usual) with a party. The Silberhauses are throwing their annual Christmas shindig and none could be happier than their two children, Clara and Fritz (Mimi Lamar and Ben Nemmers on Saturday night). Presents, food, and drink bring the festivities to a high point, but they pale in comparison to the wonders of Drosselmeyer (Kinzie). Magic tricks and dolls that come to life thrill the children, but the greatest gift is the nutcracker doll presented to Clara.
The magic continues after the party, as mice and soldiers battle it out under the Christmas tree, headed up by the Mouse King (Michael Fass) and the Nutcracker Prince (Ryan Nemmers). Clara helps her hero defeat the enemy, then they travel through a wintery wonderland to the Land of the Sweets, where dancers of the court entertain them.
To accommodate the large cast during each of the segments, BET employs a rather sparse stage throughout the entire show. Add in oversaturated lighting, muted costume colors in some areas, and mediocre backdrops, and the result is a less visually-pleasing production.
Several elements brighten up the theater, though. The first comes during the party scene. With a lackluster parents cast and a multitude of children and dancing dolls filling the stage, the maids (Raquel Gamboa, Lisette Hotz) and butler (Akihiro Yoshimoto) steal the show with hilarious flirting and outstanding comedic timing.
Ryan Nemmers astonishes with his technique, precision, and strength, especially with his pirouettes, although it’d be nice to see him smile after he defeats the Mouse King and ventures into the Land of the Sweets.
With the caliber of dancers BET presents, the snow scene should be a place for them to shine, and they don’t disappoint. Helena Cerny illuminates the stage with a graceful demeanor and exquisite quality that belies her age. Effortless execution and enviable arabesques prove that this young lady will go places. Guest artist Shea Johnson partners her with a calming dexterity, making him another highlight of the show. Snow ensemble choreography gets confusing at times, but the corps handles it quite well.
Kinzie and crew take a slightly different route with some of Act II’s divertissements. The Arabian variation features Rebekah Gee and Amber Robinson as the focal points (with Fass providing little partnering) and a sextet of background dancers. The main duet looks lovely, but with fewer lifts and tricks than expected and with a crowded stage, the ensemble falls flat as a whole. A similar effect plagues the Mirlitons.
The opposite happens with the Hungarian sequence, a BET exclusive. Using character shoes rather than flat slippers or pointe shoes, the folk dance begins slow but builds to an exciting, toe-tapping finale.
Most of the other segments follow the typical path. A vivacious Spanish duet displays the unique performance talents of Sheridan Guerin and Yoshimoto. The latter already wowed us in the party scene, and an impressive Guerin proves she can keep up. Christian Williams pulls off an athletic allegro in the Chinese, and the other gentlemen pull double and triple duty, culminating in an exciting, precise Russian sequence with Fass, Nemmers, and Yoshimoto.
But it’s not just the guys leaving the audience in awe. Jordan Carter demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of her art as the Dew Drop Fairy in “Waltz of the Flowers”. With her sweet presence and controlled yet rich maneuvering through the choreography, she’s definitely worthy of the spotlight that follows her around the stage.
BET alum and Oklahoma City Ballet corps member Rayleigh Vendt and Johnson deliver a sweet grand pas de deux. Johnson, as usual, charms with his dramatic flair and soaring jumps. Vendt’s impeccable technique helps with the Sugar Plum Fairy variation, but she hasn’t quite developed the artistry and the subtle timing dynamics needed for such an iconic role, and it seems a bit stunted. She’s well on her way, though.
The whole experience is a bit of trade-off. No doubt BET has some of the best pre-professional dancers in the Metroplex and they’re given ample opportunity to dazzle the audience, but crowded staging in some areas and uninspiring visuals prevent the production from being a truly spectacular event. –Theater Jones

All Dolled Up

Ballet Ensemble of Texas gets ready to present George Skibine’s Coppelia at the Irving Arts Center this weekend.

by Katie Dravenstott
published Thursday, March 24, 2016

Coppelia at Ballet Ensemble of Texas

Irving — Watching Ballet Ensemble of Texas (BET) as they prepared for their upcoming performance of Coppélia at the Irving Arts Center this past weekend it was easy to see why BET is one of the most sought after pre-professional companies for young, aspiring dancers in the Metroplex. In addition to the company’s expansive dance curriculum, which includes rigorous training in classical, contemporary, modern and jazz techniques, the dancers are also being schooled in technical continuity and precision as well as artistic self-expression and character portrayal. These are the skillsets audiences have to come to expect from the company, and they were the main focus of criticism during last Saturday’s four hour Coppelia rehearsal at the Ballet Academy of Texas studio in Coppell.

“Hit your fifth,” rehearsal director Thom Clower calls out to Masumi Yoshimoto (Swanilda) during one of her many petite allegro jumping sequences in Act I. “More luxurious with the expression,” he says later as Yoshimoto executes a series of side bend stretches on pointe. “Feel the dilemma,” he shouts to Aldrin Vendt (Franz) as he tries to decipher his true feelings between his fiancée Swanilda and the mysterious girl in the window named Coppelia. Clower’s vibrant personality and positive teaching methods were well-received by the dancers as was evident through the razor sharp focus and high energy levels everyone maintained throughout rehearsal.


Photo: Cathy Vanover Photography

For those needing a refresher, Coppélia (1870) is a romantic comedy ballet originally choreographed by Arthur Saint-Leon with music by Leo Delibes. Most modern day productions are derived from the revivals staged by Marius Petipa and typically feature only two of the ballet’s three acts. Based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann entitled The Sandman, the ballet follows heroine Swanilda as she tries to win back her fiancée Franz who has fallen in love with a girl named Coppelia who is actually a doll owned by the mysterious Doctor Coppelius. Franz gets caught sneaking into Doctor Coppelius’ workshop and Swanilda comes to his rescue by deceiving the doctor into believing that she is his doll come to life. In the final act Swanilda makes amends with the doctor and a wedding celebrates ensures for Franz and Swanilda.

BET will be performing George Skibine’s version of Coppélia, which includes all three acts. Skibine was a former director of the Paris Opera Ballet and also the founder of Dallas Ballet along with his wife Marjorie Tallchief (sister of Maria Tallchief). Clower and BET Artistic Director Allan Kinzie both danced professionally under Skibine’s direction and guidance. Coppélia isn’t the first work of Skibine’s that Clower has restaged for BET. Two seasons ago he reworked Skibine’s The Firebird on the company which was warmly received by both audiences and critics.

Clower’s strong rapport with the company makes for a very productive and positive environment for the dancers to work in. “He is just so easy to work with,” Yoshimoto says. “He is so fun and engaging and we really feed off his positive energy.” When asked about the notes she was giving during and after the first act Yoshimoto just smiles and says she doesn’t take the criticism personally. “I take the notes as new ways to help me grow as a dancer.”

I first saw Yoshimoto perform three years ago when she nailed the role of the Dew Drop Fairy in BET’s annual Nutcracker production. And while her technique and performance quality have grown over the years, the one thing that has remained the same is her ability to deliver technically consistent performances no matter what the part. In this case Yoshimoto’s unique abilities are well suited to the role of Swanilda. Her infectious stage presence and innate lyricism showed during the many gestural phrases in the first half as well as the less technical and more reactionary moments, such as when Swanilda catches Franz flirting with Coppelia and later when Franz calls off their engagement in front of the entire town.

Another dancer who has shown immense growth over the last couple of years is BET alum Aldrin Vendt. Gone are his boyish looks and leaner musculature and in their place a more toned and confidant leading man. His technique and body control has also improved, which he proved with his cleaner lines and sounder take offs and landings during his double tours and entrechats.

During a break in rehearsal I was surprised when Yoshimoto mentioned this was her first time playing a lead in a full-length ballet. She says the most challenging part of playing a lead in a full length ballet has been memorizing all of the choreography as well as building her stamina to keep up with all the dancing she is doing. When asked what she likes most about playing Swanilda Yoshimoto took a moment before replying, “I enjoy all the dancing and acting I get to do as well as all the playful pantomime my character gets to do.” Laughing a little she adds, “I see myself as a more reversed person so, it’s always fun when I get the chance to step outside myself and become someone completely different.”


Audiences will get two chances to see Ballet Ensemble of Texas’ presentation of Coppelia when it comes to the Irving Arts Center March 25-26.

Katie Dravenstott is a freelance writer and dance instructor in Dallas. Visit her blog at kddance.wordpress.com

Thanks For Reading







Christmas Treat
Ballet Ensemble of Texas enchants audiences with its wonderfully musical and technically creative version of The Nutcracker in Irving.

by Katie Dravenstott
published Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Nutcracker 2015
Masumi Yoshimoto and Brett Young as the Snow Queen and King

Nutcracker 15
Paige Nyman and Paul Adams as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier

Irving — Of the multiple pre-professional Nutcrackers I’ve been able to see this season, Ballet Ensemble of Texas’ (BET) annual production of the holiday classic, which they performed at the Irving Arts Center last Saturday night, contained some of the most complex and inventive choreography thus far, particularly in the cultural dances in Act II. BET Director Allan Kinzie and his choreographic team, including company advisor Lisa Slagle, Tammie Reinsch and Allison D’Auteuil Whitfield did a commendable job of showcasing the company’s ever-growing technical proficiency, athletic fortitude and personal expressiveness through creative dance sequences jam packed with fast pointe work, intricate petit jumping sequences with changing epaulement and visually exciting movement contagions and formation changes. Add in the vibrant décor, jewel-encrusted costuming and some exuberant performances from local guest artists from Texas Ballet Theater (TBT), and BET has another successful Nutcracker production to add to their books.

There were some minor discrepancies between the first and second half of the show. Act I started on a slower note with some timing issues and fluctuating energy levels in the children’s dances in the party scene, but the show gained momentum during the battle scene and ended with a spectacular snow scene featuring BET company member Masumi Yoshimoto and TBT’s Brett Young in the coveted Snow Queen and King roles. The choreographers prevented overcrowding in the party scene with well-planned traffic patterns and minimal stage props. This in turn gave the well-played adult guests more room to waltz and the children more space to chasse around in a giant circle. And while occasionally musically out of sync during the adagio doll dance, viewers couldn’t miss the young girls’ beautiful presentation of the foot before each pique step and their high releves in the bourrees and soutenu turns.

Sheridan Guerin and Kinzie were both steadfast in their roles as Clara and Drosselmeyer. A former dancer with the Boston Ballet, Kinzie captivated audiences with his grandfatherly mannerisms and musical awareness when presenting Clara with her Nutcracker doll. Guerin drew us in with her angelic demeanor, but she held our attention with her clean lines and super-flexible feet, which were most pronounced when she executed an arabesque hold or bourrée step. One of the sweetest moments in the party scene came when Guerin and Kinzie fed off each other’s energy in one of the partner dances.

Yoshimoto and Young handled the complicated choreography in the Snow pas de deux with dignity and boundless energy. The movement showcased their expert facility and amazing body control through numerous assisted pirouettes, sustained arabesque balances, opposing body angles and no more than five press up lifts and shoulder sits. There were a few instances where the couple’s movement felt rushed especially in some of the assisted turns, but both dancers quickly adjusted their tempos to stay in time with Tchaikovsky’s driving score. The 16 snowflakes perfectly captured the nuances in the music with their springy footwork and sequential arm movements as well as their creative use of space and opposing rhythms.

The second half of the show was more consistent in terms of technique and performance quality and featured some exceptional dancing from certain company members and TBT guest artists Paige Nyman and Paul Adams as the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier.

Raquel Gamboa, Lisette Hotz, Hannah Menchu and Melynda Phillips performed the musical fan flicks and sharp leg lifts in the Spanish variation in perfect unison while Ryan Nemmers executed a series of double pirouettes and tour en l’airs. The young men of BET which included Joseph Dang, Michael Fass, Nemmers, Adam Phillips and Akihiro Yoshimoto showed off their athletic dexterity and genuine charm in the widely popular Russian piece with multiple toe touches, double knee jumps and round houses. And while Helena Cerny and Phillips struggled with some of the hand holds and foot placements in the Dewdrop Fairy pas de deux, the couple pushed through to deliver some stunning moving pictures. Soloists Jordan Carter, Ana Denton, Menchu and Juliana Yu are proving themselves worthy of future leading roles with their exacting pointe work and beautifully controlled body positions in the Waltz of the Flowers.

BET is also the only pre-professional company that includes the Hungarian dance in its Nutcracker production. The repetitive rhythmic foot stomping and staccato arm placements were quite simple, but the steadily building tempo added a layer of anticipation of which none of the other dances could match.

The stars of the night were Nyman and Adams in the grand pas de deux. Both dancers are rising through the ranks of Texas Ballet Theater and have shown steady improvement both technically and artistically speaking over the last year. The couple executed the tricky counterbalance holds and multiple reverse promenades throughout the piece without a stumble. Adams pushed his stamina to the limit with consecutive turning jetes, double tours to the knee and multiple front and back cabrioles while Nyman performed the delicate pointe work and fast-paced fouette turns at the end with swan-like poise.

» Katie Dravenstott is a freelance writer and dance instructor in Dallas. Visit her blog at www.kddance.wordpress.com Thanks For Reading




Ballet Ensemble of Texas - Performance of The Nutcracker

Posted on December 10, 2013 by Katie Dravenstott

Nutcracker Performance 2013 Going Nuts!

Ballet Ensemble of Texas delivers delicious dancing and sumptuous surprises

in its production of The Nutcracker

Irving — Oh, the weather outside was definitely frightful, but thankfully Ballet Ensemble of Texas’ (BET) presentation of The Nutcracker was worth the perilous drive that many performers and audience members surely braved. The company gave an engaging performance on Saturday to a packed house at the Irving Arts Center, complete with little girls in cute mice costumes, an abundance of young male dancers, a poetic Waltz of the Flowers and a dynamite grande pas de deux by guest artists Michele Gifford and Shea Johnson.
The production began at the Silberhaus’ annual Christmas party where their daughter Clara receives her beloved Nutcracker doll from her Uncle Drosselmeyer (Allan Kinzie). While the stage dressing was a little bare (a couch, chair and clock were the only props) it did provide the children and adult party guests with plenty of space to dance. Choreographers Lisa Slagle (also BET director), Allan Kinzie, Tammie Reinsch and Allison D’Auteuil Whitfield kept the party scene moving with basic yet visually pleasing ballet steps for the youngsters and clean pointe work for Clara (Kristen Wright) and the life-size dolls (Alise Newman, Victoria Pardo and Jimena Flores-Sanchez).
Even though she kept the same facial expression for most of performance, Wright is the most technically proficient Clara I have seen this season. Her strong, supple feet enabled her to execute multiple turns and pique arabesque holds with pizazz. Newcomer to BET William Sheriff was a pleasant surprise as the Nutcracker Prince with his great control over his long, limber body; as he becomes more mindful of his feet, Sheriff will be one to watch for.
The battle scene had everything you’d expect, from well-rehearsed sword play, bright lighting and smoke machines to twenty or so little dancers scampering across the stage in cute mice costumes. The action was quick-moving and transitioned smoothly into the snow scene. Snow Queen Natalie Tsay’s pointe work was a little clunky in some parts, but she made up for it with her captivating stage presence. Her Snow King (Blaine Quinn) was a solid and trustworthy partner. He executed those tricky traveling lifts with grace and confidence. The Snowflakes really stole the scene with their breezy movement, uniformed arm and leg placements and exquisite technique.
The second act displayed more of the company’s versatility especially in the Arabian, Chinese, Hungarian and Russian sections. Melissa Anderson, Kendall Glasgow and Sam Chadick showed they could handle the slower, more controlled movements required in the Arabian dance. Anderson and Glasgow also got to display their flexibility with their alternating floor splits. It was a challenge for power jumper Adam Rech to control himself in the Chinese dance, but he did it and even managed to get his heels down when he landed. While the timing was off in some parts of the Hungarian number it did show the company’s understanding of folk dancing which includes a lot of unified stomping and clapping.
Now, what BET has that a other companies don’t is a strong group of young male dancers. This was made abundantly clear in the crowd pleasing Russian dance. Roman Mejia, Aldrin Vendt, Akihiro Yoshimoto, Adam Phillips and Kei Jay Takahashi pulled off an exhilarating number filled with double tour en l’airs, turns in second and round houses.
Like the snow scene, the Waltz of the Flowers was truly poetic. The dancers simply skimmed across the floor in a series of bourrees. The choreography was packed with constant direction changes and opposing head and arm movements; giving off the illusion that we were watching moving snapshots. Masumi Yoshimoto (Dew Drop Fairy) and demi-soloists Abby Granlund, Breanne Granlund, Ripley Mayfield and Yuki Takahashi gave solid and soulful performances.
The highlight of the show was the technically flawless performance Michele Gifford (Sugar Plum Fairy) and Shea Johnson (Cavalier) gave in the grande pas de deux. Gifford and Johnson nailed every turning arabesque hold and difficult shoulder lift without a qualm. Gifford’s unending extensions and Johnson’s boundless amounts of energy in his turning grande jete section earned applause from the audience. It was a great night for both these seasoned professionals.



June 21, 2010

Ballet Academy of Texas to start Professional Preparatory Program

The Ballet Academy of Texas in Coppell is pleased to announce that in September, 2010, a daytime Professional Preparatory program will begin for the home-schooled or high school graduate who is training for a career in Ballet. The program will consist of 3 hours of intense training in ballet, pas de deux, mens’ class, pointe and variations, and is scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays mornings. It will be taught by Ballet Academy of Texas Director Lisa Slagle, and new staff member Clarence McDorman. Besides both of their professional dance experience, Mr. McDorman has just completed his Masters’ Degree from NYU in American Ballet Theatre’s Ballet Pedagogy, and Ms. Slagle is on the Advisory Board for American Ballet Theatre’s Teacher Training Curriculum.

Professional Ballet Dancer Preparatory Program

May 10th, 2010

Lewisville Dancer wins first “Dallas Dance Off” Competition


Brittney Dito Brittney Dito, 16, of Lewisville, was the recent winner of the 1st Annual “Dallas Dance Off”, which brought together many young aspiring professional dancers from all over the metroplex performing in different genres of dance. They were judged by 3 dance professionals from the area, including Charles Santos, director of TITAS. The competition was held at the historic Lakewood Theatre in Lakewood. Brittney performed a contemporary solo (pictured here), choreographed by one of her instructors, Jenny Johnston, to the well-know music “Lacrimosa” by Mozart. Brittney is a leading dancer of the Ballet Ensemble of Texas and a student at the Ballet Academy of Texas, both located in Coppell. She has previously awarded scholarships by the Regional Dance of America organization and the North Texas Dance Council. She is a sophomore at Lewisville High School and the daughter of Twila and Bill Dito of Lewisville.

February 8, 2010

Ballet Academy of Texas receives Outstanding School Award

Youth America Grand Prix, an international ballet competition for students ages 9 – 19, held their Regional Competition for the Southwestern area of the United States this past weekend at the Irving Arts Center. More than 200 dancers attended from all over the United States, Canada, and even China. The Ballet Academy of Texas received the top award of “Outstanding School”. This is the 4th time for the school to win the award in 8 years of entering the competition. The dancers were judged by professionals from major ballet companies in the United States such as New York’s American Ballet Theatre. The school entered 3 group dances, or Ensembles, and 2 of them,

La Vivandiere "La Vivandiere”

rew3 and “Capriccios”


tied for 1st place in the Ensemble Category. Some of the Academy students also competed in solos in the Junior and Senior category. Top Juniors from the school in the Classical division were Courtlyn Hanson (13) and Rayleigh Vendt (14) who won 2nd and 3rd place respectfully, with additional dancers in the top 12 being Katie Cheng (14), Julia Nicholson (13), Hannah Snowden (14), and Natalie Tsay (14). There was a Contemporary competition for Juniors where the Academy dancers also scored very high. Katie Cheng (14) won 1st place, Rayleigh Vendt 2nd place, and Courtlyn Hanson placed in the top 12. In the Senior category, Brittney Dito (age 16) won 3rd place in the Contemporary Division, and Ms. Dito, Nathan Vendt (16) and Jared Tennison (18) placed in the top 12 Classical Division . All of these dancers are members of the Academy’s official performing company, the Ballet Ensemble of Texas, and are directed by former professional dancer Lisa Slagle. They will be performing a full program of dance, including the 2 winning group dances, at the Irving Arts Center February 27th and 28th. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased by calling (972) 252-ARTS

December 14, 2009

Ballet Academy of Texas Dancers receive
Top Honors at “The Pulse”


The Pulse “The Pulse”, a group of the top choreographers in the dance business today, came to Dallas over the weekend for master classes and to critique the local choreographers. Coppell’s Ballet Academy of Texas received some of the top honors at the event. Their Modern teacher Darrell Cleveland premiered a section of his new ballet, “Flashpoint” at the Showcase performance. He received the “Choreographer’s Pick” Award from such well-know choreographers as Mia Michaels, Wade Robson, and Dave Scott, well-known from their work on the popular TV show, “So You Think You Can Dance”. One of the Ballet Academy’s students, Abby Lett, received the opportunity to become the Pulse Faculty’s “Protégé”, a scholarship award to the Pulse’s remaining workshops both nationally and in New York to assist the choreographers in their classes. The Ballet Academy of Texas also received the honor of “Studio Spirit”, and is seen in this photo receiving that award from the Pulse Faculty.

October 12, 2009

Ballet Ensemble of Texas to perform at new Performing Arts Center

The Ballet Ensemble of Texas has been invited to perform at the new Performing Arts Center in downtown Dallas as part of the new AT&T PAC’s opening week celebrations. The Coppell-based ballet company will perform a section of a new ballet “Capriccios”, choreography by Trinette Singleton, on Sunday, October 18th, at 11:30 a.m. on the Center Wide Stage, an outdoor stage located on the plaza overlooking the new Winspear Opera House. They are part of an all-day, free-to-the-public, celebration of various performances. “We are proud to be representing Coppell and the local community at this event,” says Ensemble Director Lisa Slagle. “It is a real honor to have been invited, and the ballet we will perform is lively and very fast!”

The Ballet Ensemble is also proud to announce that one of its members, Katie Cheng, age 13 from Coppell, has been awarded a National Training Scholarship from American Ballet Theatre in New York City. This honor is given to only about 10 dancers per year from throughout the United States in recognition for their talent, training, and dedication, and includes a full scholarship to attend ABT’s workshop in New York in the summer of 2010 as well as a stipend to her home studio, the Ballet Academy of Texas in Coppell, for her training during the year. Katie will be performing the role of “Clara” in the upcoming “Nutcracker” performances by the Ballet Ensemble in November and December in both Coppell and in Irving at the Irving Arts Center.

The Ballet Ensemble’s season is being sponsored by the generous support of the Macy’s Foundation and the City of Coppell. For more info on the Ballet Ensemble and their upcoming performances, go to


March 28, 2009

Ballet Ensemble of Texas receives Top Award at Festival

Regional Dance AmericaThe Ballet Ensemble of Texas received the “Stream Award” at the Regional Dance America/ Southwest Festival in Houston earlier this month. This recognition is an annual award selected by committee in recognition of the one company within the organization who displayed the highest artistic excellence and the greatest service to the Regional Dance America/Southwest in the past year. The Ballet Ensemble hosted the RDA/Southwest Festival in Richardson in 2008, where over 500 dancers from throughout the southwest convened at the Eisemann Theatre and adjoining Renaissance Hotel for 3 days of Master Classes and Performances.
The Ballet Ensemble of Texas members also received other awards at the Festival in Houston. Company choreographer Jenny Johnston received the RDA National Commissioning Award for her choreography of “La Nuit Rose”, which the Ensemble performed at the Gala Performance of the Festival, and which is pictured here. Also two of the company’s dancers received scholarships: Madilyn Hill (16) received a full scholarship to attend the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s Summer Intensive, and Brittney Dito (15) received a $500.00 Regional Dance America scholarship to attend the Joffrey Midwest Summer Intensive.
The Ballet Ensemble of Texas would like to recognize the great support of the Macy’s Foundation, the City of Coppell, and Alexander and Alexander Orthodontics for their successful season this year.

February 16, 2009

This weekend at the Irving Arts Center, the Coppell-based Ballet Ensemble of Texas will present the Southwest premiere of Twyla Tharp’s ballet “Torelli”. Ms. Tharp was a 2008 Kennedy Center Honoree, and has choreographed for every major Ballet Company in America, in addition to having the long-running hit on Broadway, “Movin’ Out”. “I am thrilled that our dancers had the opportunity to learn her style and unique way of moving and I know the audience will find it to be interesting and well-done,” said Ensemble director Lisa Slagle, who had the opportunity to work with Ms. Tharp as a Joffrey Ballet dancer in the late 1970’s.
Also on the program will be two premieres by company choreographers Jenny Johnston and Andrew Parker. Ms. Johnston’s ballet will be to the popular music of Karl Jenkins, and Mr. Parker’s to the innovative music of Philip Glass. “Both of these ballets are neoclassical and somewhat contemporary, and both unique”, said Ms. Slagle.
For a touch of the classics, the Ensemble will present the beautiful one-act section of the classical ballet, “Jardin Anime”, from “Le Corsaire”, featuring a total of 21 girls in beautiful new tutus and sets. The performance will conclude with a revival of the rousing and fun jazz ballet by choreographer Tammie Reinsch called “Jumpin’ Jack”.
This performance is presented with the Sponsorship of Macy’s, and the City of Coppell, with special thanks to its Benefactor, Alexander and Alexander Orthodontics. Performances are scheduled for Saturday, February 21st at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, February 22nd at 2:30 p.m. at the Irving Arts Center on MacArthur Blvd. in Irving.
Tickets are $20.00 for Adults, $15.00 for Students and Seniors, and can be purchased by calling the Irving Arts Center box office at (972) 252-ARTS, or at the Ballet Academy of Texas in Coppell. Special group rates for 10 or more tickets are available. This will be a great program of dance for the entire family! For more information call the Ballet Ensemble of Texas at (972) 745-0199, or go to www.balletensembleoftexas.org

Ballet Ensemble of Texas to present
Twyla Tharp Ballet
COPPELL, TEXAS –January 20, 2009

The Ballet Ensemble of Texas will soon be presenting the Southwest Premiere of “Torelli”, a ballet by well-known choreographer and recent Kennedy Center honoree Twyla Tharp. The company has been hard at work on this challenging and different style of movement since last August, when former Twyla Tharp dancer Jason McDole came to stage the ballet on the Ensemble. “Her ballets are unlike any other choreographer’s, and require a tremendous amount of inventiveness and working together in unison. I think the audiences will find it very interesting,” says Ensemble director Lisa Slagle. “The ballet has been staged for quite a few other companies, but never in the Southwest area of the nation, so we are excited to present this to local audiences,” she continued.

Also on the program will be two premieres by company choreographers Jenny Johnston and Andrew Parker. Ms. Johnston’s ballet will be to the popular music of Karl Jenkins, and Mr. Parker’s to the innovative music of Philip Glass. “Both of these ballets are neoclassical and somewhat contemporary, and both unique”, said Ms. Slagle.

For a touch of the classics, the Ensemble will present the beautiful one-act section of the classical ballet, “Jardin Anime”, from “Le Corsaire”, featuring a total of 21 girls in beautiful new tutus and sets. The performance will conclude with a revival of the rousing and fun jazz ballet by choreographer Tammie Reinsch called “Jumpin’ Jack”.

This performance is presented with the Sponsorship of Macy’s, and the City of Coppell, with special thanks to its Benefactor, Alexander and Alexander Orthodontics. Performances are scheduled for Saturday, February 21st at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, February 22nd at 2:30 p.m. at the Irving Arts Center on Mac Arthur Blvd. in Irving.
Tickets are $20.00 for Adults, $15.00 for Students and Seniors, and can be purchased by calling the Irving Arts Center box office at (972) 252-ARTS, or at the Ballet Academy of Texas in Coppell. Special group rates for 10 or more tickets are available. This will be a great program of dance for the entire family! For more information call the Ballet Ensemble of Texas at (972) 745-0199, or go to www.balletensembleoftexas.org

September 15th, 2008
Ballet Ensemble of Texas begins Performing Season

The Ballet Ensemble of Texas is busy preparing a full season of performances, with the first one scheduled for Saturday, September 27th, at the Granville Performing Arts Center in Garland. They have been invited to open the 2-day Curtain Call Dance Festival, organized by the Dallas-based Dance Council, where they will perform director Lisa Slagle’s ballet “Festive Overture” (pictured here). For information and tickets go to www.thedancecouncil.org
Their popular version of “The Nutcracker returns November 29th and 30th to Coppell High School Auditorium for 3 performances, followed by 3 more performances December 6th and 7th at the Irving Arts Center. They will present the North Texas premiere of well-known choreographer Twyla Tharp’s ballet “Torelli”, as well as 2 world premieres as part of their annual spring performances at the Irving Arts Center, scheduled for Feb. 21st and 22nd. In March, 2009, they will represent Coppell when they perform at the Regional Dance America Southwest Festival in Houston as an Honor Company. For more information visit their website at www.balletensembleoftexas.org

May 10, 2008

Ballet Ensemble of Texas Dancers and Choreographer awarded Scholarships


The directors of the Coppell-based Ballet Ensemble of Texas are pleased to announce that many of their company members have received merit scholarships to various summer dance programs around the country. The Dallas-based Dance Council has awarded Ms. Brittney Dito its largest scholarship of $1000.00 to attend the Joffrey Midwest Workshop in Michigan in June. She also received a full scholarship to attend the Joffrey New York Workshop in July. Other Dance Council scholarship recipients were Meredith McDonald, and Rebecca McManis. Ms. Emily Brideau received a $500.00 scholarship from the Regional Dance America organization, which she will use to attend the Alvin Ailey Workshop in New York City this summer. Ms. Madilyn Hill received a full scholarship to attend the University of Oklahoma Summer Wind workshop, and Ms. Abbie Feller received a partial scholarship to attend the American Ballet Theatre workshop in Orange County, California. Receiving scholarships to the Glenda Brown Choreography Project were Coppell residents Madeline Sogar and Kelly Marshall. Ms. Julia Nicholson and Ms. Sidney Moore received scholarships to attend the Joffrey Workshop Texas in San Antonio. Company choreographer Darrell Cleveland received a full scholarship to attend the Regional Dance America Choreography Conference in Seattle in June. His ballet “Grace Under Fire” was selected to be performed at the recent Regional Dance America festival in Richardson, performed by the Ballet Ensemble of Texas, and is pictured here.


Troupes dance away the weekend at Eisemann Center

12:00 AM CDT on Tuesday, April 15, 2008
By MARGARET PUTNAM / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

fdaFor three days, the Eisemann Center andthe Renaissance Hotel were abuzz with master classes, lectures and performances as some 600 dancers in 25 companies descended for the annual Regional Dance America/Southwest Festival.
The festival culminated Sunday night at the Eisemann Center with the gala performance, and if I were the betting type, my money on who is most likely to emerge as a star would go to Dallas Ballet Company's 16-year old Julia Cinquemani. As a dancer, she has everything one could hope for: elegant legs and feet, subtle presence, silky control. Next year: American Ballet Theatre.
Of the 12 works, six stood out. One was funny, three somber, one bordered on the surreal and, thankfully, one was a frolic.
The comedy came from BalletForte's Scherzo. Dancers lose their place in line, someone gets slapped, a short man leaps into the arms of a tall woman, and everyone ends up in a heap. At the center of the mishaps, Jeiron Wong plays a "Who me?" character with perfect timing, a Bugs Bunny in tights.
The moody and modern cast a spell in Midland Festival Ballet's Outside of Time, City Ballet of Houston's Elegy and Ballet Ensemble of Texas' Grace Under Fire. Clean and expressive dancing met the demands of imaginative choreography.
A bench, two red and three black umbrellas, 15 dancers in white dress and a dimly lit stage created an ambience of mystery with a hint of the surreal in Kingwood Dance Theatre's Moments of a Rainy Day.
The conceit behind Dallas Ballet Company's Hommage à la Russe was to celebrate Russia's 200th birthday, but the music, dress and daring dancing said otherwise. It was Hungarian Gypsy all the way.
Margaret Putnam is a Richardson-based writer who covers dance.

March 28, 2008
COPPELL, TEXAS – Ballet Ensemble of Texas to Host Regional Dance America Festival

The Ballet Ensemble of Texas will soon be performing and also hosting at the Regional Dance of America Southwest Festival in Richardson at the Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts. The Coppell-based company will be performing a premiere by company Director Lisa Slagle Nicholson, “Festive Overture” (pictured here), as well as works by company choreographers Darrell Cleveland and Tammie Reinsch. There will be 3 nights of performances at the Eisemann Center’s Hill Performance Hall April 11, 12 and 13 at 7:30 each night, and in addition to the Ballet Ensemble of Texas will feature 24 other regional dance companies from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The last time this Regional Festival was in the Dallas area was in 1973, and is considered to be one of the dance events of the year for North Texas. Tickets for the performances are $25.00 for Adults, and $20.00 for Students and Seniors, and can be purchased by calling the Eisemann Center Box Office at (972) 744-4560 or by going to www.eisemanncenter.com . For more information on the Festival visit the website at www.rdasouthwest2008.org or call the Ballet Ensemble of Texas at (972) 745-0199.

February 6th, 2008
Ballet Academy of Texas Dancer Receives Top Honor at Youth America Grand Prix - COPPELL

Youth America Grand Prix, an international ballet competition for students ages 9 – 19, held their Semi-Final competition for the Southwestern area of the United States last weekend at the Irving Arts Center. More than 200 dancers attended from all over the United States. Ballet Academy of Texas student Brittney Dito, (age 14), received the Youth Grand Prix award for receiving the highest scores in both the Contemporary and Classical Dance categories for her age division. She will compete at the New York Finals in April, which brings the top young dancers from all over the world to New York for 3 days of competitions and classes. The Ballet Academy also performed well in the Ensembles competition, where they entered 4 large Ensemble pieces. All 4 dances placed in the top 12 of Ensembles, with “No Pressure”, the unique choreography of Academy staff member Tammie Reinsch, receiving a 3rd place honor.

'Firebird' burns brightly
DANCE REVIEW: Young lead meets challenge of demanding role

Monday, April 2, 2007
By MARGARET PUTNAM / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
Wonders never cease. Ballet Ensemble of Texas proved that even a 14-year-old can cFirebirdreate magic in the demanding role of the Firebird. The Ballet Ensemble of Texas showed hard-to-match skill in
The Firebird on Sunday at Irving's Carpenter Hall. Sunday afternoon at Carpenter Hall, this student company met every challenge with an aplomb and technical skill few other youthful groups could match.
The program opened with Gerald Arpino's neo-classic Reflections, a pretty affair but without much bite. It featured 10 girls in tiny pale blue dress and three men, who in solos, duets and trios performed seven variations on a theme. They offered a textbook example of precisely executed bourees, little beats of the feet, hops on pointe and balances in arabesque.
The one compelling variation came in Variation VI, where Lee Scoggins began a series of turns that reversed at a 90-degree angle. On the other side of the stage, Jennie Hyland emerged, walking backward. When she turned to him, her initial caution changed to curiosity, and soon the couple engaged in a touching pas de deux.
Reflections was no match for The Firebird, a Russian fairy tale about a Firebird with magical powers. First created by Mikhail Fokine for Ballets Russes in Paris in 1910, it was a sensation then, with a dynamic score by Igor Stravinsky. Sunday's version was that of George Skibine, the late artistic director of Dallas Ballet and former star of Ballets Russes, and was restaged by Thom Clower.
The Firebird opens with the Prince, Ivan Tsarevich (Paul Adams, 17) lying asleep in the forest. Soon he awakes, and in darts the Firebird (14-year-old Meredith McDonald) with big, bold leaps. Once he captures her, she frantically tries to escape, trembling as he holds her tightly, her body stretched forward and arms fluttering. When she manages to escape his grasp, it is her exotic beauty that wins her release.
The mood lifts to a sunny garden where Princess Tsarevna the Beautiful (Emily Dixon, 18) and maidens in blue and violet filmy dress flutter like delicate flowers.
And then violence erupts as monsters in wings and capes storm the stage and swarm over the Prince. Tye Love makes a truly terrifying evil magician, but he ends up slithering and crawling when the Firebird comes to rescue the Prince.
The end is simple and moving, with the Firebird touching the shoulder of the newly married Prince. She lets go and balances on one leg in arabesque as though to announce her magical power.
As the Firebird, Ms. McDonald captured the essence of the role's mysterious nature with a wonderful mix of large, flashing jumps and steely legwork.
Margaret Putnam is a Richardson-based freelance writer.

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