Bringing The Beauty of Ballet to New York Neighborhoods
At the Queens Theatre, located in the midst of Flushing Meadows Corona Park on a particularly warm winter Sunday, a little girl asks the stage full of SAB dancers if they love ballet. The question solicits plenty of laughs from the audience and the performers as it’s clear to see that they do, and through this vital lecture-demonstration program, they are helping to inspire a new generation of ballet-lovers.
The Beauty of Ballet is SAB’s annual series of lecture-demonstrations designed to offer a sneak peek at ballet training to new audiences throughout New York City. The hour-long, free program is perfectly tailored for small children (recommended age is four and up) and features a brief demonstration of classwork – both at the barre and center – a selection of performance excerpts from some of the most beloved ballets, and an audience Q&A with the dancers. These lecture demonstrations are held at various neighborhood theaters throughout the boroughs of New York including locations in Harlem, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.
This program, which SAB initiated in 2009 as part of its 75th-anniversary celebration, not only provides a perfect introduction to ballet for young children and an enriching production for all audiences, but serves as a valuable experience for the SAB students themselves. Backstage at one of this year’s performances, the students shared their enthusiasm for the opportunity to perform and help expose children to ballet who may otherwise not consider pursuing it.
“It’s a great opportunity for us. Since we spend so much time in class, this is a nice chance to be in a professional setting and flex our performance skills,” one participant explains.
The program is indeed one that has the potential to have a real impact on audience members of all ages and, as one of the SAB student performers pointed out, quite a good deal for parents looking for a fun and engaging weekend activity.
“You get live music, costumes and good dancing for free,” she says. “The kids will hopefully get inspired and who knows, maybe even come to an audition!”
SAB will be performing The Beauty of Ballet in Harlem on February 29, in Brooklyn on March 1, and in the Bronx on March 15. Reservations are not required for any of these performances, but full details and more information can be found on the upcoming events page.
The program also includes an interactive component, giving the audience a chance to explore musical rhythms through clapping, show off their very best Swan Lake inspired “swan arms,” and actually stand up and try some ballet basics as the students demonstrate the five positions of ballet.
“I just want these kids to see that ballet is fun and exciting,” another SAB participant shares. “You get to see the discipline that goes into ballet with the barre and center combinations, but then you see what it can turn into with the performances. So, it really shows the kids the whole process.”
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and Council Members Stephen Levin and Helen Rosenthal, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and by gifts from Capezio, The Cestone Family Foundation, and The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation.