North Texas Giving Day | Chamberlain Ballet: 2000 Explorers

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We all have basic needs.

Food, water; we all need to be healthy and fed. We need to feel loved.

Around our teenage years, we start to feel the need to explore who we are as individuals. 

In 2000, Chamberlain Ballet turned 16, and the decade that followed would see our non-profit explore multitudes of new boundaries. We expanded our reach into the community in every facet of our operations. We expanded outreach. We began our relationships with several longtime donors, grantors, and sponsors. We commissioned more works, and we even changed our name. We explored. We wanted to find out what Chamberlain Ballet is and can possibly become. 

Beginning the decade, we marked our, presently, last Nutcracker at McFarlin by beginning to host guest artists from New York City Ballet. Chamberlain Ballet is honored to have presented truly wonderful artists throughout our relationship. We knocked it out of the park from the beginning with bringing Wendy Whelan to North Texas. She has always been a favorite of our organization and continued to dance with us in North Texas even post retirement from performing with NYCB. We are so excited for them naming her Associate Artistic Director. Wendy has been such a graceful example to all our dancers. She and Phillip Neal partnered our Nutcracker pas de deux for several seasons. Wendy and Phillip helped us explore. 

Philip Neal choreographed "Day Dreaming in Dallas" in fall 2005. This new work featured Chamberlain Ballet's students in both our Musical Theater Company and Concert Wing. Wendy Whelan joined Mr. Neal, during the concert weekend, performing George Balanchine's breathtaking "Diamonds" pas de deux. Chamberlain Ballet looked towards New York City Ballet as we wanted to establish a consistent example of what professional dancers can be as both artists and professionals. Chamberlain Ballet now has alumni in professional careers who were influenced by our NYCB guest artists, including Luke Yee of Louisville Ballet. After graduating from Chamberlain, Luke studied under Mr. Neal at Next Generation Ballet in Miami.

During the devastation of Katrina, Philip Neal wanted to pay it forward for all of the support given to NYC during 9/11. His vision was a one night only dance concert/fundraiser which we pulled off in less than two weeks. Everyone involved donated their time, talents, performance space, and helped network in support of Philip’s vision. Very impressive to say the least.

Special thanks goes out to: McFarlin Auditorium management, McFarlin’s Stage Crew, Charles Santos with TITAS connected CB with free airfare to bring in a roster of NYCB dancers who all performed along side Mr. Neal. The Dallas Dance Council helped by pulling together a silent auction. It was truly a dance community effort for a successful special event.

All told, in the 2000’s Chamberlain Ballet hosted several NYCB dancers, including:

        • Ashley Bouder

        • Albert Evans

        • Michele Gifford

        • Nikolaj Hübbe

        • Philip Neal

        • Jennifer Ringer

        • Margaret Tracey

        • Wendy Whelan

Chamberlain Ballet now has alumni in professional careers who were influenced by our NYCB guest artists, including Luke Yee of Louisville Ballet. After graduating from Chamberlain, Luke studied under Mr. Neal at Next Generation Ballet in Miami.

In addition to our piece with Mr Neal, the 2000s brought new works such as “Veni Emmanuel choreographed by Lisa Hess Jones. Alumni Jamal Story staged “The Troubled Spaces in Between” and “Lead.” One a contemporary modern piece integrating fabric to explore the deeper invisible aspects of the human connection, and one a lighthearted ballet that explored young aspiring dancers each longing for the opportunity to dance the lead in any ballet.

We explored new work for new stages and new audiences. In 2002 Chamberlain Ballet found a new home for our major productions. The introduction of the Eisemann Center in Richardson was a major lift to our organization. Having such a quality performing arts center so close to home changed accessibility to the arts for so many families in our community. Chamberlain Ballet became able to stage professional level productions for community members not as easily accessible to downtown Dallas. I’m proud to say our Community Connections productions of The Nutcracker are routinely packed every Thanksgiving weekend.

Our Community Connections performances were just part of our exploration into outreach. The founding of our Relevé program in Frisco and McKinney brought our mission to spread the arts to even more lives in the community. We partnered with The Boys and Girls Club of Collin County and provided free after school dance classes to local underserved children. We established scholarships for promising dancers who loved the arts. We began seeing students become the first in their families to attend college. We explored our reach into the community, and that outreach helped others explore dance and a fulfilling life in the arts.

In January 2005, the Shining Stars program began with one class on Saturday mornings. Offering movement and dance to special needs students ages 6-12 years, the program has since evolved to three classes covering ages 6-30.

We explored who we are, and Chamberlain Ballet is an organization which spreads the arts to all lives possible. We want dance to bring joy to every soul yearning to move or just let movement move them. In the 2000s, Chamberlain Ballet began relationships with key organizations. The Andrea-Mennen Family Foundation, Neiman Marcus Willow Bend, and The Renaissance Dallas Richardson Hotel have all been with us since the 2000s and provide us with crucial support to make this mission of ours a success. Together, we have seen the arts in North Texas grow over the past decades. We hope to see it explore new bounds in the future. We hope the arts continue to push forward. 

These new areas of the arts were behind our biggest move of the 2000s decade. Through applying for a dba, we became Chamberlain Performing Arts. Through the decade we built a very impressive Musical Theater Wing. Our dancers explored their talents and found they could sing. Musical theater has become an important part of our organization’s foundation. Our dancers explored. They found they were performers. 

Some of our performers became: 

  • Parisa Khobdeh (Paul Taylor Company, Parisa Khobdeh Dance Company)

  • Kathryn McDonald (Boston Ballet, Houston Ballet)

  • Destinee Rae McGinnis (The Book of Morman, Broadway)

  • Christine Cornish Smith (Cats, Kiss Me Kate, Broadway)

  • Meredith Strathmeyer (Wonderbound, Denver)

  • Brittany Werthmann (The Rockettes, NYC)

  • Kim Van Woesik (Ballet Hispanico)

  • Candice Woods (Hair Spray, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Catch Me If You Can, The Book of Mormon, Dream Girls, South Korea, Aint' Too Proud, Broadway)

We closed out the decade as Chamberlain Performing Arts. We had stretched, grown, and began to explore. Thankfully, with art there is always room for more.

Keep exploring.


Kathy Chamberlain

Founder/artistic Director

Thank you for your time and support.

We hope your support will help us stretch further.

Every week until North Texas Giving Day we will be telling our story through the decades from the 80’s, 90’s, 00's, 10’s, and beyond. Please get up and give to the arts and support North Texas organizations.

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