North Texas Giving Day | Chamberlain Ballet through the decades | 2010s Refined
The last decade shed light on who we are and inspired what we can become. We’ve learned some amazing paths to help push the arts in our community. Throughout the 80’s, we stretched ourselves. We began to test our limits, and in the 90’s we built upon our foundations. The 2000’s were spent exploring. We let the natural growth of our company determine its own fate, and we transformed into Chamberlain Performing Arts. From 2010 through today, we raised our standards of productions, operation and outreach, forged deeper partnerships with donor and sponsor organizations, and saw our dancers, our artists, routinely break through with various marquee organizations.
As we had settled into the decade, Phillip Broomhead returned to stage a full length production of Coppelia. The set, costumes, lighting, and all were fantastic to see. Our non-profit performed for thousands in total at the Eisemann Center in the Hill Performance Hall. We had been staging full length productions of The Nutcracker for several years, and wanted to show the community another side of full length classical ballet. Mr. Broomhead, as always, was delightful to have around the studio, and inspired our kids to be sincerely professional. It was another first hand account into standards and expectations our dancers might one day expect to experience while dancing for elite professional ballet companies.
Chamberlain Ballet had now shown, for several years, that we produce an entertaining season of dance. Our Nutcracker had begun to average over four thousand attendees per season, and we consistently proved our production standards carried into our spring performances as well. Chamberlain Ballet further refined our offerings when we introduced the Family Ballet Series. The series’ purpose is to bring stories to life for children. Younger children’s condensed attention spans are given a full story to dream upon.
After Coppelia, our spring production continued to excel with the introduction of Focal Pointe. This mixed repertoire production delivered consistent highlights over several years. Our company dancers were pushed to be their best. There’s pressure in performing alongside artists from companies such as Ballet West or New York City Ballet. It’s heightened when these performances have highlights such as the Texas debut of Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks’ Restless Creature. Wendy and Brian’s work is a beautiful encapsulation of creative expression in movement. Our dancers proved they not only hold their own, but they also show their own refined glimpses of artistic expression and creativity.
Guest artists and companies throughout the 2010’s include:
Beckanne Sisk (Ballet West)
Tom Mattingly (Ballet West)
Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks (Restless Creature)
Meredith Strathmeyer (Wonderbound, Chamberlain Ballet alumna)
Michele Gifford (New York City Ballet and Texas Ballet Theater)
Andrew Murphy (Houston Ballet)
Bruce Wood Dance
Dark Circles Contemporary Dance
Dallas Black Dance Theater, Encore!
Samantha Pille (Texas Ballet Theater)
Jiyan Dai (Texas Ballet Theater).
Chamberlain Ballet continued to impress the importance of creativity on our dancers. We commissioned numerous works to be choreographed. The exposure to varying style of movement is critical to the development of artists. The subtlety and nuance, of each choreographic style our kids experience, are case studies in how to express themselves.
New works created on our young artists include:
“Tanzer for Kinder” (Jennifer Hart)
“For Them” (Lisa Hess Jones)
“What We Do With Time” (Brandi Coleman)
“One Fell Swoop” (Emily Bernet and Taylor Rodman, Bombshell Dance),
“Green Valley” (Katie Martin, CB alumna)
Jamal Story’s new work to be premiered Spring of 2020.
Breadth of influence is key for more than just creative expression. Technique and wisdom are vital to the growth of every artist. Chamberlain Ballet has consistently sought to expose our company members to the brightest and most influential minds in dance. We want them to know their possibilities. So they, too, can refine who they are as not only artists but individuals as well. Master classes were taught by amazing icons in the world of ballet, modern, and musical theater dance.
Master class teachers in the 2010’s included:
Edward Villella (New York City Ballet and Miami City Ballet’s Founder)
Wendy Whelan (New York City Ballet)
Brian Brooks (Brian Brooks Moving Company)
Adam Sklute (Ballet West, Artistic Director)
Ben Stevenson (Texas Ballet Theater, Artist Director)
Suki Schorer (School of American Ballet)
Marjorie Thompson’s (Pacific Northwest Ballet School)
Damian Smith (San Francisco Ballet)
Lisa Hess Jones (soloist with New York City Ballet)
Dede Barfield (former Chamberlain student and principal with Pennsylvania Ballet)
Phillip Broomhead (The Royal Ballet and Houston Ballet)
Jennifer Hart (Austin Ballet Academy)
Parisa Khobdeh (Paul Taylor Company & CB alumna)
Samantha Pille (Texas Ballet Theater)
Jiyan Dai (Texas Ballet Theater)
Chamberlain Ballet continued to refine our operating structure as well. Karen Davis was hired as Director of Operations in the 2012-2013 season, and Missy Shofner joined as communications and volunteer liaison in the 2018-2019 season. Additionally we brought in paid consultant Lisa Berry for accounting.
Towards the end of the decade, our outreach programs needed new and additional teachers. Stephanie Sinclair joined Chamberlain Ballet as an additional Relevé instructor, and Sarah Gable and Cailey Schaefer were hired to lead our Shining Stars Program during our 2018-2019 season. We were responding to our outreach program’s growth. Relevé (free after school dance classes) expanded into the Dallas Community. We first began serving students at the West Dallas Community School in 2016 and then Bridge Builders Kids in 2018. Thanks to LaMonte Thomas and Cigna, Relevé classes are now offered at Sigler Elementary School and The Salvation Army in Plano. Our Shining Stars classes (for special needs individuals 6-30 years) grew to offer three weekly classes on Saturday mornings, free of charge. Our staff is proving to be as amazing as our dancers.
When we began in 1984, I wanted the kids to dance. I wanted to put artists in the community. Artistic development is unique to everyone, but it is critical for all dancers to have access to elite coaching. I’m proud that Chamberlain Ballet’s artistic staff has been able to provide that access to the North Texas community. Carter Alexander (Miami City Ballet School) and Lynne Short (Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Ballet Austin’s Academy’s former principal) joined me in shaping young lives. Carter staged many classic works on the company (Napoli, Les Sylphides and Sleeping Beauty), and Ms. Short created her version of “Etudes.” As Ms. Short retired and Mr. Alexander transitioned to SMU, Tim Fox (New York City Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, and principal dancer for San Francisco Ballet) joined the artistic staff in 2017. Mr. Fox truly helps to inspire and mentor our young artists.
I am truly excited to watch our current company dancers perform this season. The strides the company has made the past decade have been immeasurable. Their feel. Their flow. It shows when they’re on stage. Our company skews younger in age. Their talent does not. Their talent shines. Past company members have had to have their performance held against iconic names in the world of ballet. This company will have that task. This company will also have the task of dancing alongside those whose footsteps they follow. This season’s company dances alongside NYCB’s Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle. They performed Veni at Dallas Dances. They will bring back a beloved family ballet series production, Peter and the Wolf. Then to close out the season, they join Chamberlain Ballet alumni at our 35th Anniversary Celebration performance.
I’m not yet sure who will dance what role, but I do know they’ll honor their predecessors.
They’ll be refined.
Thank you all for your continued support of Chamberlain Ballet.
Artistic Director/Founder | Chamberlain Ballet
PS. Some of our dancers who have furthered their careers from the 2010’s:
Leanna Rinaldi (Miami City Ballet and Ballet Austin)
Hannah Mayer (Miami City Ballet)
Josephine King (Avant Chamber Ballet)
Luke Yee (Louisville Ballet)
Ashley Davis (Los Angeles Ballet)
Naomi Shapira (Los Angeles Ballet)
Many professional companies are now placing an important focus on higher education. Many of our dancers are now pursuing college/university experiences often graduating with double/triple degrees in dance and other fields of interest. We are proud and supportive of their life path.
Sarah Grace Houston (Fordham -Alvin Ailey)
Maxwell Capper (Fordham-Alvin Ailey)
Bethany Greenho (Fordham University-Art History)
McKenna Karnes (Southern Methodist University)
Jessica Elliott (Southern Methodist University)
Ricardo Hartley (Juilliard)
Jessica Blume (Oklahoma City University and North Texas State University)
Arlesia Grace McGown (Harvard)
Katherine Hairston (Harvard)
Amit Katz (Brenau University)
Breanna Mitchell (University of Oklahoma)
Hannah Mayer (University of Oklahoma)
Megan Watson (University of Oklahoma)