Students of all ages learn dance at Pa. ballet school

September 08, 2005|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - In a sunny pink room behind the marquee at the Capitol Theatre, six little girls in black leotards and pink ballet slippers flamingo walked, pointed their toes and practiced plis.

It's no stretch to think that the names of the Tiny Dancers Ballet Camp participants might be in lights on that marquee in a few years.

The Chambersburg Ballet Theatre School & Co. has produced some professional dancers, according to Lavinia Reid, artistic director and founder.

Two of Reid's students were recently accepted to an international program at the Boston Ballet, and a male student who studied with her for five years dances in the Louisville Ballet.


Reid is justifiably proud of her students; all five who auditioned this year for large ballet companies were admitted.

The small aspiring ballerinas went through ballet positions to music and worked on the barre. They practiced bringing their feet down from a kick "as light as a feather, with no plop," as Reid instructed.

The girls were rehearsing for a Friday morning performance for their parents. They danced the fairy princess dance from The Nutcracker's "Waltz of the Flowers," wearing crowns that they made in the crafts portion of the weeklong day camp.

Tschaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty" played as they practiced their bows and leaps.

"They're a very well-balanced group in temperaments and abilities," Reid said. "I enjoy the challenge of helping those who are more shy to gain confidence and self-esteem. That's the fun part."

After teaching ballet in Ithaca, N.Y., for 25 years, Reid founded the local school in 1999. From 1992 to 1999, she was the principal choreographer for the Ithaca Ballet, the leading touring company in upstate New York.

"Ballet is the basis of all dance and is made up of movement, visual and athletic components," said Reid, who is an adjunct faculty member at Wilson College.

"I deal with pre-professionals, with kids who take ballet for fun and exercise, with adults who enjoy the athleticism of ballet, and with college students who need a class in ballet to round out their college experience," she said as the Tiny Dancers went to snack time.

Assisting Reid with the day camp was Victoria Marthouse, 13, who has studied at CBT since it opened. She will teach a class of beginning children this fall.

Marthouse recently danced in a variation of "Cinderella" for the school's open house.

In addition to Classical Ballet, Renaissance and Historical Dance, and Modern Dance classes, the school also offers a Healthy Heart class, pilates and yoga, Reid said.

Enrollment is about 100, Reid said.

"We are not a commercial school, so we don't have the large enrollment, but the students study more here," she said.

The 8- and 9-year-olds have three or four classes a week, and the teens have 15 to 16 classes. Many go on to professional programs.

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