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Mark Melvin, NeXt! Class 2013

This past Friday, I had the opportunity to attend the Louisville Ballet Choreographers’ Showcase at the Louisville Ballet Studios, at 315 E. Main. While many Louisvillians are aware of the Louisville Ballet, most might not be familiar with this unique program. The Choreographers’ Showcase is distinctive for a couple reasons. For one, the Showcase provides patrons with a rare opportunity to experience the Louisville Ballet in an intimate setting. The performance took place in one of the Ballet’s practice studios, with seating for perhaps 150 people. In addition, the performance features twelve new and never-before-seen pieces, all of which are choreographed and produced by Company and Trainee dancers within the Louisville Ballet. This year’s choreographers included Helen Daigle, Justin Michael Hogan, Claire Horrocks, Rob Morrow, Ben Needham-Wood, Brandon Ragland, Sanjay Saverimuttu, Ryan Stokes, Ashley Thursby and Katarina Walker.

Before Friday, the extent of my ballet patronage was limited to the annual high school performance of The Nutcracker at the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland, KY. Point being, I’m not a ballet aficionado, or even a dance lover for that matter. I am happy to say, however, that the evening was highly entertaining, and a welcome change from my typical weekend routine. The Ballet’s Artistic Director, Bruce Simpson, set the stage for the performance with opening remarks regarding the dancers’ preparation for the event. The choreographers and dancers, most, if not all, of whom are preparing around the clock for Romeo and Juliet (set your calendars for March 1 & 2 folks – yes, I’m going), created these works in their free time – which is extremely limited. Moreover, they were responsible for essentially every aspect of their respective pieces including music selection, scheduling rehearsals, choosing costumes, etc. I don’t have the slightest idea what it’s like to be a full-time ballet performer, but I imagine it can be an extreme mental

The pieces ranged from (to paraphrase Simpson) tongue-in cheek and light hearted, to contemporary and edgy – certainly different than my preconceived notion of attending the ballet. I was truly captivated by the overall quality of the performances, particularly in light of the tight time frame in which the choreographers and dancers had to prepare. Moreover, the collective dedication and effort of all those involved was apparent. With that said, if you have the chance to attend the Showcase next time around, take advantage. The atmosphere was accessible and inclusive – an ideal experience for a ballet novice, or the seasoned patron.and physical challenge, which makes the Showcase all the more impressive.

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