How a 9-Year Old Found His Outlet Through Ballet

Our son JD is 9 years old. He is a typical boy in every way — he plays video games, skateboards, rides bikes and climbs trees — you name it, he does it! But still, for years we had never found his outlet. He was becoming increasingly difficult in school, not following directions, rebelling against the teacher and not focusing. We were in parent teacher conferences almost weekly. We knew he was brilliant, but we just couldn’t convince him to show it.

JD was cast as a party boy for the 2010 Columbus Ballet performance of the Nutcracker, which trains at the CSU Dance Conservatory. As the dancing and rehearsals became more intense we noticed something amazing — JD’s grades, attitude and behavior changed by 180 degrees. We were so proud and impressed with him. Yet, sadly once the Nutcracker performances ended, we noticed JD’s behavioral issues return.

He was again cast as a party boy in 2011 and we saw once again, his enthusiasm, motivation and positive behavior at school and at home take hold. This time he buckled down harder and achieved high marks on his end-of-year testing. We caught on to the positive correlation between JD’s behavior and dance, so over the summer of 2012 we signed JD up for a summer dance class and discussed the option of him taking weekly classes. He would have to participate in an all girls class but he didn’t care…he was happy to be able to dance and even perform. This past winter, JD was cast as Fritz in the 2012 Nutcracker performance. His excitement to be performing this role was indescribable!

JD Allen during rehearsal at the Springer Theatre.

JD during rehearsal at the Springer Theatre.

JD looks forward to continuing his training in classic ballet as he matures in dancing. He loves the stage, he loves being dramatic and using his actions and emotions to help tell a story.

What do we —his parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and teachers see? A young man who had matured greatly, has stopped acting out negatively, does his homework without fighting, gets good grades in school and has developed into a perfect gentleman. We are so thankful for the opportunities that the Columbus Ballet and CSU Dance Conservatory have provided. And more so, we are thankful to have found a great outlet for JD to better himself and become the bright student we all knew he could be all along!

Submitted by Joseph & Amber-Elaine Allen and Family

CSU Conservatory Dancers Perform like Stars

Last Thursday night, Columbus State University’s University Hall was packed full of Columbus’ rising stars. Flashes of black leotards and pink tights were flying by my eyes from every direction.  It was the CSU Dance Conservatory’s dance recital and you could feel the excitement in the air.

I went back stage to get a glimpse of the stars before the show. A lot of the little ballerinas were ready to roll and keeping busy by playing games or coloring. The other ballerinas were having their mommies fix their hair. I’m not sure if it is known how difficult it is to put such little thin hair into a tight ballerina bun. It’s a lot of work and takes a lot of hair spray.

Lights up! Music on! The CSU Dance Conservatory
proudly presents, the Mickey Mouse Club!

I couldn’t get over how tiny the girls were compared to how large the stage is.  They were ready though. Confident four and five year olds they were. There were a few little slip ups, but it only made the performance more precious.

I’ve been watching the little girls practice over the semester, and their skills may not look too impressive to the audience, but to those that have been watching them throughout the semester it is very visible that their skills have greatly developed.  The girls work together and are a lot more coordinated than before.  What made the show was when one of them would help the other out.  If one of the ballerinas forgot their part, their friend would whisper or point which way to go.  The girls have been working very hard on their recital piece, but like everyone I’m sure nerves got to a few of them.  The audience roared with cheers for the petite ballerinas.  I was no different than anyone else, and clapped loudly and proudly for those girls.  They did a great job!

The program progressed with the beginning ballerinas first to the more advanced.  The girls and boys just only a year older than the beginning class were far more advanced.  It was apparent that their posture and grace was much more refined than girls a year younger.  Their skills and techniques also far advanced.  I was shocked that in just one year, how much the children had learned.

I was just imagining all of the little girls in the five year old class, and how one day they may be skillful ballerinas in only a few years.

I snuck back stage to get a few better pictures.  I’m really glad that I did too, because I could see up close how brilliant these ballerinas really were. I could really see the Conservatory Dancers “En Pointe.” En Pointe means “on the tip.” This is a classic ballet technique meant for the ballerinas to appear weightless. I must say, it truly does make these women seem as light as a feather and as graceful as an angel. It was amazing to watch them perform.  This has taken these young ladies years of practice and dedication, and I believe the audiences’ cheer filled their hearts up with joy.

The part that I loved the most about the entire night was all of the sweet fathers who brought their daughters flowers.  I played soccer, so my father never brought me flowers after I won soccer match, but instead he brought me a hamburger.  I guess if I had become a sophisticated and elegant dancer, maybe I would have gotten flowers too. I think every little girl walked out of that auditorium with a bouquet of colorful flowers from their daddies. It was really great to see parents supporting their children. I think that every dancer that night had to have felt loved and appreciated and hopefully, like a star.

Find out more about the CSU Dance Conservatory classes and summer programs.

— Contributed by Rebecca Holman

The Sounds of Silence

My mother use to tell me that she enjoyed having time to herself. “Me Time,” she would call it. When I was younger, I never understood why she would desire alone time. Who wants to be alone?!  It’s more fun to be with your friends, laughing and chatting about everything under the sun. Now, that I’m a little bit older I understand and thoroughly appreciate “me time.” Silence can sometimes be a blessing. To be able to hear your own thoughts or to be able to read a page from a book only once can feel like a gift granted from above. If you don’t understand the value of “Me Time,” all you have to do is babysit a child under the age of seven and all will be explained.

I babysit a precocious five year old named Audrey Jane. She has the energy of ten children on a sugar high. She talks at 100 words per minute while wandering to the next shiny thing she sees. I’m only twenty one years old, so you think I would be able to keep up with her liveliness, but she wears me out. She asks endless amounts of questions, that sometimes I really have no clue how to answer. She is as quick as a cheetah, running from one spot to the next. My reflexes are tested and I’m trying to grab her before she runs again. I watch mothers with four or five children and I just wonder, “How in this world do you do it?,” then my thought is interrupted with another question from Audrey Jane.

Audrey Jane is an active five year old. She started gymnastics when she was only two years old. Gymnastics was not really Audrey Jane’s forte, and for that I’m glad. That may sound a little mean, but let me explain from the babysitter’s perspective. The gym was always packed full of parents and children. There is clear glass separating the waiting area and the gym so the parents can watch while sitting on hard metal bleachers. Needless to say, it’s an hour of discomfort. Also, every child finds it necessary to scream from their lungs with all the air they have, to ask a million questions about nothing, and cry because they can. It was impossible to read, to study, or by any means even think. By the end of class my head is pounding, my back is stiff, and my butt is numb.

Getting back to the glorious need for sounds of silences, my quiet time is during Audrey Jane’s ballet class. Oh, ballet how you make my heart warm with joy. Audrey Jane began ballet at the CSU Dance Conservatory in January of this year. It has been nothing but wonderful. Audrey Jane really enjoys the class and adores her teacher. The class is very structured and calm, which is something Audrey Jane needs for an hour. I’ve peeked in a few times, and the little ballerinas are all paying close attention to their instructor and eagerly waiting to learn more.

Class begins exactly at 4:00pm and ends on time at 5:00pm. While Audrey Jane is learning to become the next big thing, I’m sitting in the waiting area in a cozy, comfy fabric chair. But wait, what is that I hear? Oh, silly me. It’s nothing, literally nothing. I’m on cloud nine for one whole hour. There are two other mothers that stay in the waiting area until class is over, and each of them have their books or to- do lists. The other mothers leave to run errands or enjoy a cup of coffee across the street. It’s a peacefully perfect hour. The CSU Dance Conservatory is at the Rankin Arts Center, which is conveniently located on Broadway at Uptown Columbus. Some days, I’ll walk across the street to Fountain City Coffee and grab a latte and sit outside on a bench and enjoy the scenery. It’s my one hour to relax, unwind, and enjoy being by myself. No one is screaming in my ear, asking me questions, or needs me for anything.

Other than having my hour of alone time, ballet has taught Audrey Jane to be more disciplined and focused. At gymnastics she was as wild as a monkey. Now, Audrey Jane is listening and learning how to participate with a group. The little ballerinas are also learning their numbers in French. After every class, Audrey Jane counts up to the amount that she has learned. She is now up to the number ten or nombres dix! Audrey Jane is learning the basic fundamentals of ballet, but at such a young age, she is learning much more. Ballet is showing Audrey Jane how to be refined and poised which will assist her development into a young lady.

Sometimes it’s hard to notice the blessings given to us, but I am well aware that ballet is a blessing for both Audrey Jane and myself.

If you’re interested in signing your child up for ballet classes and treating yourself to an hour of uninterrupted bliss, click http://ballet.columbusstate.edu/ for more information.

Submitted by Rebecca Holman

The Columbus Ballet Delivers an Outstanding Nutcracker Performance

If you went to see the Nutcracker at the RiverCenter,  you already know how amazing this performance was. Since this was my first time going to a ballet performance, I didn’t really know what to expect. Although I did expect there to be beautiful ballerinas, the grandeur of the show caught me off guard. The stage was lavishly decorated with perfect lighting, and the performers were extravagantly dressed giving the show a magical Christmas ambiance. I think everyone had to have left with a warm fuzzy feeling that night.

In the beginning of the performance, I was initially pleased with the obvious effort to make this a magical moment for the audience because of the superior quality of everything involved. From time to time you’ll see ballet on TV or maybe online, but for me I never took the time to appreciate ballerinas’ talent until I watched them in person. It’s very cool to see how they can make ballet look so fluid and effortless. As I was watching them dance, all I could do was imagine myself trying to do the same moves and realizing how hard it would be. I definitely have to give them props for being able to keep the pace, balance and strength to perform like that.

My favorite part was the sugar plum fairy’s dance which happened to be portrayed by Anna Rodriquez. She was absolutely flawless in her performance. The perfect touch was added when the light hit her jeweled outfit and tiara making her glimmer from head to toe. It was such an awesome performance. Bravo to the Columbus Ballet for working so hard!

If your little one was swept away by the magic of the ballet you may want to consider registering them for upcoming ballet classes. They’ll have a chance to learn from other experienced ballerinas such as Anna Rodriquez, who happens to be an instructor at the CSU Dance Conservatory, official school of the Columbus Ballet. For more information, visit http://ballet.columbusstate.edu/ or call 706.507.8070.

-Kindra Hunter

Rediscover the Magic of the Nutcracker

Throughout the Holidays there are many activities and performances that set a dreamlike tone. The ballet may be one of them, in particular, the Nutcracker. Every Christmas season ballet companies all over the country perform the Nutcracker, bringing back memories of Christmases past. The Nutcracker Ballet originated from E.T.A Hoffman’s story, “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice” in the 19th century. Marius Petipa, a dancer from France, created the ballet choreography for the original performance of the Nutcracker in St. Petersburg, Russia. Interestingly, when this ballet debuted it wasn’t very popular. Today, the Nutcracker is considered one of the world’s most renowned ballets.

On December 10th– 11th the Columbus Ballet Company will perform the Nutcracker at the RiverCenter. Click here for ticket information. This is a fantastic opportunity to boost the warm fuzzy feeling that Christmas gives you. It’s also a perfect night out for the family, or you and a special loved one. Let yourself get swept away in the enchanting story of the Nutcracker. Preview the storyline with this brief summary:

The Stahlbaum’s are hosting a party on Christmas Eve. When Drosselmeyer arrives at the party, he gives Clara and Fitz gifts. Fitz immediately becomes jealous of Clara’s Nutcracker doll and breaks it. After Drosselmeyer repairs the doll, the night eventually comes to an end. Clara sneaks out of bed to cuddle with her Nutcracker doll under the Christmas tree and falls asleep. At midnight, the doll comes to life and has to defend Clara and himself in a battle against the Mouse King.

Luckily, the Nutcracker, his army of toy soldiers, and Clara won the battle against the Mouse King. The Nutcracker turns into a Prince and takes Clara to the Land of Snow, and then on to the Land of Sweets where they meet the Sugar Plum fairy. They tell the fairy of their victory against the Mouse King and she rewards them with a variety of captivating dances. At the end of the story, Clara wakes up underneath the Christmas tree with her Nutcracker doll.

Take some time out to delight in the holiday season this year.  For tickets and pricing information visit the RiverCenter.org. It’s only natural to be mesmerized by the beauty and grace of ballerina after you watch them perform. If you or your children are inspired to learn more about the art of ballet, visit ColumbusState.edu/Ballet for registration information.

-Kindra Hunter

“Prominent Russians: Marius Petipa.” Get Russianalized – Russiapedia. Web. 22 Nov. 2011. <http://russiapedia.rt.com/prominent-russians/opera-and-ballet/marius-petipa/&gt;.

“The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet.” Nutcracker Ballet – Performance Directory and Nutcracker Ballet Information from Ballet Buzz. Web. 22 Nov. 2011. <http://www.nutcrackerballet.net/html/nutcracker_story.html&gt;.

Why Stick to the Same Old Routine?

Enjoy dancing? Whether you dance for exercise, personal enjoyment or you dance professionally, it’s a good bet that we have a dance class for you.  We have many different types of dance classes such as Ballroom, Swing, Middle Eastern Dance, Hip-Hop, and Carolina Shag. Don’t miss out on the joy dance can bring to your life.

Don’t forget we also offer Ballet for all ages at The Columbus Ballet Conservatory at CSU’s Rankin Art Center.

If you are interested in any of our classes and would like more information, call Continuing Education at (706) 507-8070.

You can register for this class online at conted.colstate.edu. Search our courses and look under Art / Dance.