Future ballerinas have excellent
training resources in Cache Valley
By Ashley Wach Chandler
March 5, 2006 | According to Cache
Valley Civic Ballet's Web site, many ages of children
can take classes ranging from jazz to Pilates. But ballet
is the most fundamental, said Becky
Erickson, principal dancer for CVCB and teacher
at the Cache Valley School of Ballet.
"Every single little girl should take at least one
ballet class in her lifetime," said Erickson when asked
for advice for parents of little kids.
"Do I recommend ballet for little girls ... definitely!"
said Debbie Eskelson, president and publicity director
for the CVCB. "But let's not forget the little boys
as well. It is very difficult to have a cavalier, a
prince, Dracula, or other male parts without little
boys taking dance at some point. In fact, when ballet
was first developed boys/men were the only people allowed
to take ballet and perform."
Ballet teaches children some things that are hard
to teach in any other setting than a dance classroom.
Characteristics associated with learning ballet technique
are discipline, respect, obedience and patience. Two
particular students of Erickson started their semester
(15 week training) disrupting class and goofing off.
By the end of the semester, each girl had learned to
follow instructions and discipline themselves into learning
the technique. Erickson later ran into one of the girl's
mothers after the semester and the mother thanked her
for teaching her daughter strength in respect.
"She decided dance was not for her, but her mother
knew she had learned critical skills in the class,"
Besides hard core technique, respect of self and self
worth are also important tools learned in ballet. Girls
can be frustrated with themselves because they are not
like others in class. Some girls have bad turnout while
others have flat feet, both make it difficult to control
movements with strength and beauty shown by professionals.
Each individual has their own strengths and weaknesses
in ballet. An important skill to take from ballet is
that everyone is equally beautiful, no matter their
differences. Self worth taught in class should leave
girls feeling special and accepted, exactly like a princess.
According to Becky Smith, youth service librarian
for the Logan
Library, ballet is the most popular section read
about of all dance topics. Angelina
Ballerina is the most popular ballet book in picture
book series," said Smith. Another favorite is any publication
Twelve Dancing Princesses, which are always checked
out. "A lot of little girls dream of being a ballerina."
It may be that pink is associated with ballet or the
tutus just look fun.
Even little boys enjoy the books for the colorful pictures
and the variety of stories told in ballets (such as
Peter and the Wolf, Nutcracker, and Alice
CVCB sponsors activities
during the year to encourage children to use their imagination.
One is the Princess Party fundraiser held yearly in
September. Children attend activities, such as carriage
rides with Cinderella and making tiaras with the Sugar
Plum Fairy, dressed as their favorite princess or prince.
Another is the Sugar Plum Tea Party held in conjunction
with the December Nutcracker performance. The day of
the Saturday matinee, they host a tea party where children
can meet the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. Snacks
and lots of photo opportunities are provided. Cast members
dressed in costume also attend creating a "magical"
event held in the Bullen Center Ballroom.
"The joy and excitement in the eyes of young and old
as they attend our performances and special events is
absolutely wonderful," said Eskelson. "You can actually
see the magic of ballet touch each of them. To be a
part of that, to help bring such beauty into our lives
The company, which is approximately 40 members, performs
two to three full length ballets during a year, including
the Nutcracker. Their upcoming ballet of Sleeping Beauty
will be presented this year with Utah State University's
orchestra live. This performance will be March 31 and
"Ballet is a lifetime skill and is not contingent
on performing. It is something you can do in a small
space without any special equipment. Ballet gives grace,
flexibility, agility, endurance, strength, structure,
timing, rhythm and confidence. But let's not forget
the magic --- ballet allows imagination and creativity
to flourish. Where else can we be sugar plum fairies,
cavaliers, snowflakes, flowers, mice, soldiers or whatever
and have it be perfectly acceptable?" said Eskelson.
Another source of information on CVCB
is here written by Jessica Mozo. Cache Valley Center
for the Arts lists upcoming
performing arts events in Cache Valley.