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Ballet program slates elementary school visits

On Jan. 14 and Jan. 15, Ballet West II dancers will visit elementary schools in Carbon County to perform an award winning educational program for local youngsters.

The educational program is designed to introduce students to the art form of ballet.

On Wednesday, Ballet West for Kids dancers will visit Sally Mauro Elementary at 10 a.m.. and Bruin Point Elementary at 1 p.m.

Thursday's schedule includes visits to Creekview Elementary at 8:45 a.m., Castle Heights Elementary at 10:15 a.m. and Wellington Elementary at 12:45 p.m..

Ballet West for Kids is an assembly presented by five Ballet West II dancers and a narrator.

During the course of two weeks, Ballet West will send out the small troupe to present the show free of charge to faculty and students at a total of 44 schools across Utah.

The program is designed to reach every public elementary school in the state once every five to six years.

The rotation allows all elementary school children in Utah to experience at least one Ballet West presentation, according to the education program representatives.

"Arts in education is nationally recognized to enrich and broaden the academic achievements of students," explained Peter Christie, Ballet West's director of educational programs. "We believe that making the art form more accessible and personal for children de-mystifies the art form without taking away its charm."

The current presentation is titled "Ballet and The Sleeping Beauty."

The cast follows a script that includes a brief history of ballet written for young audiences and a choreographed example of a daily class.

Also included are personal explanations from the professionals about basic ballet positions and technique, good posture and health, music appreciation, and career dedication.

The elementary students are invited to participate in demonstrating how everyday movements are similar in rhythm, shape and dynamics to ballet steps.

Next, the dancers, dressed as characters from The Sleeping Beauty, demonstrate the techniques of pantomime, pointe work, use of a prop and pas de deux - two dancers partnering.

At the conclusion of the program the audience enjoys a miniature performance of The Sleeping Beauty ballet.

"We have had a tremendously positive response from the schools we visit," explains Christie, who receives multiple letters of appreciation following each program.

Ballet West for Kids program is provided to the public school system free of charge because of funding from the Utah Legislature and Salt Lake County's zoo, arts and parks program. The funds make it possible for the program to visit rural districts as well as some schools with enrollment as low as 26.

The educational service exposes approximately 57,000 children to the art of ballet.

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