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Today's word on journalism

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dueling masters on words:

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."

--William Faulkner, writer (1897-1962), on Ernest Hemingway, writer (1899-1961)

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"

--Ernest Hemingway, writer (1899-1961), on William Faulkner, writer (1897-1962)

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," said Erickson.

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 of The 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 snazzy pink 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 in Wonderland).

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 is priceless."

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 April 1.

"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.


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