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balletforlife

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LAUREL YOUTH BALLET PERFORMING COMPANY
September 30, 2010

As a teacher in a different discipline, I had a preteen student who was involved in ballet through Laurel Youth Ballet. Her maturity and discipline impressed me greatly as did her love for Laurel when she spoke of it. When my young daughter was old enough to begin ballet, I researched local options and determined that Laurel would provide a solid education in classical ballet, with valuable performance opportunities in a supportive atmosphere. At that young age, the proper ballet terms and movements were taught, and excellence was expected, with the older girls acting as role models. In addition to the learning of the art form, a portion of class time was allotted to improvisation to classical music, with the youngest students dressed in actual ballet costumes, owned by Laurel and used in its productions! This was a thrill for the young students, and that freedom to express themselves as they chose, to the music, gave birth to a love of ballet in my daughter which grew and became a desire to express herself in ballet as a professional. Those tiny dancers envisioned themselves for a few moments as Giselle, Aurora, and many other ballet heroines; from that, they gained a love for performing onstage. That desire was fulfilled beautifully and often in Laurel Youth Ballet's annual productions of the full-length "Nutcracker" and another full-length ballet from the classical repertoire. With the partnering expertise of guest male dancers, the Laurel Ballet girls were able to dance roles in ballets which are usually reserved for professional companies in sizeable cities. To achieve that, they aspired to roles and worked hard to deserve and master them, then performed them beautifully to the applause of their family, friends, and the community. In the audience, we met many patrons who had traveled many miles to attend Laurel Youth Ballet's productions, rather than the nearest large city ballet company's, because Laurel's were so good and yet more affordable. Laurel made fine ballet available to many who would not otherwise have the means to attend such performances, and it taught its own students dedication, teamwork, courage, artistry and much more in the process. Its scenery, props, music and costuming were amazing, given the budget and the fact that it is not in the heart of a large city. No one left disappointed; rather, they were quite pleasantly astonished at what such dedicated faculty and students could achieve. These are life lessons that serve young people well beyond the years spent in ballet classes. Although Laurel's students do audition for, and attend, many prestigious summer programs, many will opt for other careers after high school, with fond memories. Our daughter realized at age 8, at Laurel, that she wished to make ballet her career. This dream was supported by the Laurel faculty and by her classmates; all were supportive and encouraging as she worked very seriously to make that possible. This involved taking extra classes at various levels, some lower than her regular level, to build stamina and to refine her technique and artistry; this was understood and allowed. When studio space was available, she could avail herself of the flooring, barres and mirror, to practice. Additional forms of dance were also offered as supplements, because today's dance companies hire well-rounded dancers who have experience in modern, jazz, character, and more. She is so grateful for those opportunities and for their unfailing confidence in her ability to achieve her goals if she worked hard and well. In her teens, she was offered the opportunity to train elsewhere in a prestigious year-round program in a large city, and, upon embarking on that new venture, she found that the artistry and confidence that she had gained at Laurel served her well. Some of her new classmates had not had the opportunity to dance in full-length ballets at their former schools, and few had had partnering opportunities such as she had had since her youngest years. Although she was far away, her Laurel classmates continued to keep in touch with beautiful cards, photos,and care packages. They were top-notch young people as well as excellent dancers. Our daughter has trained in several great ballet schools in several cities since she ventured beyond Laurel, and she is currently living her dream as a trainee with a major ballet company in one of the largest cities in the U.S., a position granted after a competitive audition in which her confidence and artistry served her well. In every training situation, faculty and artistic staff have commented on her work ethic, which was fostered at Laurel Youth Ballet as she aspired to learn ever more difficult roles, transforming herself from a toddler in a tutu improvising to ballet music, into whatever was needed to meet the demands for a particular role, always fixing her gaze on the older dancers who set such a high standard, and especially on those who had gone from Laurel Youth Ballet into professional careers. Although ballet is extremely competitive, no one at Laurel ever said, "No. It will be too challenging." They said, instead, "Try, and we will help you." Although she now dances far away, they are still supportive, knowing that giving someone a dream should be followed by keeping that dream alive. As she continues to pursue her dream, she enjoys the benefits of physical fitness, appreciation of the arts, and confidence. Laurel Youth Ballet was such an important part of her life that it is hard for her family to imagine her without the gifts that it has given her. Funding for Laurel Youth Ballet will ensure that existing programs and facilities can be maintained and even enhanced for future dancers, and other children will never have to wonder what their lives would have been like without the gifts that ballet gives, through Laurel Youth Ballet- gifts for ballet and for life. Onstage and off, and someday as a dance educator herself, she hopes to pay it forward and give those gifts to audiences and to other young children.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Education for my child, performances, and parent volunteer opportunities to support the students, as well in as my child's career path.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Respectfully request that funding be given, to maintain and enhance existing programs, facilities and outreach, so that many young people of all financial situations, and community members of all ages and backgrounds, can experience great ballet.

More feedback

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The supportive atmosphere surrounding the professional-caliber training, with commitment to bringing this art form to so many.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Dedicated!

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Maintain and enhance existing facilities and equipment, bring in more guest dancers and teachers, provide scholarships and aid, do more outreach, offer more exercise equipment, travel to perform in broader area.

Ways to make it better...

Additional funding could have made it more accessible to even more students, either through scholarships, or more outreach.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Financial, in terms of maintaining state-of-the art facilities; such facilities need upkeep. Such training and performing could be made even more accessible to more people.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2007

MY ROLE:
Client Served & Parent of student.