Aug 30

Top 10 Things You Missed From Chautauqua

During the summer, Charlotte Ballet travels to Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY for a residency. Founded by our Artistic Director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux in 1989, Chautauqua’s dance program presents four Charlotte Ballet performances during an eight week residency, including ballets by Mark Diamond, Sasha Janes, Dwight Rhoden and several ballets staged by Patricia McBride. We can assure you it was an action-packed eight weeks! Here’s the top 10 things to know about our summer in Chautauqua:

Blog_Chautauqua_Alex swan

1. Alessandra was all the swans

In the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra performance of “Total Tchaikovsky,” Alessandra Ball James and partner Josh Hall danced Swan Lake‘s White Swan Pas de Duex. She turned around the very next night and performed the Black Swan Pas de Duex with partner James Kopecky in Charlotte Ballet’s own performance, Evening of Pas de Duex. Reviewer Anthony Bannon called her “a force of nature.”

Photo by The Chautauquan Daily’s Carolyn Brown

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2. Wearing pointe shoes is cray

The Chautauquan Daily’s Rebekah Barnes dove into the intricacies of pointe shoes from how they’re made to how they’re prepped and performed in.

“The first couple days is awful,” Amelia Sturt-Dilley said. “Our first week working, my bed sheets couldn’t even be on my toenails. A breeze would hit them [and it would be painful]. It hurt so bad. I don’t think the perfect pair exists. It’s like a magical fairy tale. ”

Photo from The Chautauquan Daily


3. Charlotte Ballet is on Snapchat

We launched our own Snapchat this summer and if you’re not following us, add us at cltballet so you’re not missing out! The dancers took over Snapchat to give behind-the-scenes looks at their day and even Patricia McBride and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux made appearances! We’ve got lots of fun stuff planned throughout the 2016/2017 Season so give us a follow!

Snap by Josh Hall


4. James broke his nose…and still danced

We’ve all heard the phrase “the show must go on.” Dancer James Kopecky lived up to that phrase, after sustaining a broken nose on stage during a performance in Chautauqua. Not only did he finish the ballet, but he quickly regrouped and then performed Dwight Rhoden’s The Groove, known for its challenging, athletic choreography. Don’t worry, James is on the mend and will be back in time for the first performance of the 2016/2017 Season, Fall Works. But he did have to take a break from dancing while his injury healed, which leads us to number 5…

Photo by Christopher Record

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5. Sasha takes the stage

The Chautauqua season wrapped up with a program featuring Associate Artistic Director Sasha Janes’ The Four Seasons. With James Kopecky back in Charlotte to take care of his broken nose Sasha made it work the best way he could figure – taking the stage in his own ballet. Janes danced many years professionally, including with Charlotte Ballet, but hadn’t performed in five years. Not only did he jump right back on stage, but he performed two key duets!

Photo by The Chautauqua Daily’s Mike Clark


6. Raven should be on a runway

If you’ve seen Associate Artistic Director Sasha Janes’ The Four Seasons you know the moment. From the orchestra pit, Raven Barkley appears and takes the stage cloaked in all black. She takes the audience’s entire attention just with the ferocity of her stride. Then she sheds the cloak for a floor-length white coat and ushers in the “winter season” with a powerful performance, seeming to direct the dancers on stage and eventually the snow that rains down. This scene inspired reviewer Jane Vranish to call Raven’s assent to the stage “worthy of a runway.”

Photo by The Chautauquan Daily’s Mike Clark

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7. Yes ballerinas eat junk food

One of the biggest misconceptions we hear about dancers is that they don’t eat. After spending eight hours a day, sometimes more, in class and rehearsals it’s quite the opposite. Making sure their bodes are fueled is important to be able to maintain the constant physical exertion required of their job. And sometimes, yes, that means ice cream!

Photo courtesy of Alessandra Ball James


8. Charlotte Ballet dancers are family

Most people who have seen the movie Black Swan have a certain idea of the culture around ballet. It’s often assumed to be competitive and cut-throat as dancers jockey for roles and prestige. Artistic Director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux has created a completely different atmosphere that many liken to a family, constantly supporting one another and building each other up. The family vibe is taken to a whole other level at Chautauqua as dancers share housing, cook meals together and have fund during their free time.

Photo by The Chautauquan Daily’s Mike Clark

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9. Chautauqua is crazy gorgeous

Founded in 1874, Chautauqua Institution sits on the banks of Chautauqua Lake in New York state. Besides the historic buildings and homes, the lake provides a backdrop of unrivaled beauty (and the dancers typically hit the lake each summer during coveted free days!). Chautauqua lights up in the summer as people flood in for recreation and artistic programming. The open-air amphitheater provides a unique venue to view dance performances, which are always full of Charlotte Ballet’s awesome and supportive Chautauquan fans.

Photo courtesy of Alessandra Ball James

Blog_Chautauqua_bye CHQ

10. We’re already ready for next summer!

In summer 2017, Charlotte Ballet will return to Chautauqua Institution for another residency. Read more about next summer from The Chautauquan Daily.

Photo courtesy of Chautauqua Institution – Facebook


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