North Ballet’s spring performance was lovely entertainment

This is the Garland Waltz from Sleeping Beauty, choreographed by Breanna Dvorak. At  center are Jacob Walters, 12, of Coon Rapids, and Natalie Belz, 14, of Elk  River. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

This is the Garland Waltz from Sleeping Beauty, choreographed by Breanna Dvorak. At center are Jacob Walters, 12, of Coon Rapids, and Natalie Belz, 14, of Elk River. (Photo by Paul Olson)

 

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

This is the fourth year of operation for North Ballet of Rogers, and each year, the students are a year older and a year better, as was apparent last Saturday when about 100 youths presented compelling entertainment they’d been honing since January.

TheĀ  2 1/2-hour program at Zabee included two dances from “Paquita” in Act 1, then a lovely parade of 14 fairy-tailed theme performances in Act 2, under the heading “Once Upon a Time” with groups from kindergarten to mid-teens, all with gorgeous costumes and sets.

Lydia Egge, 16, of Otsego, appearing in Paquita. (Photo by Paul Olson)

Lydia Egge, 16, of Otsego, in Paquita. (Photo by Paul Olson)

“We’ve been working on it about six months,” said Breanna Dvorak, the Bolshoi Academy-trained artistic director completing her first year with North Ballet.

“The amazing thing is that ‘Paquita’ is meant for professionals and these are kids 12, 13, 14 years old, doing the exact choreography that professionals are doing. They really should not start partnering until they are 16, but our students are so talented we can start them now at age 12.”

North Ballet will present segments of “Paquita” at ArtSoup on Saturday in downtown Elk River from 3:30 to 4 p.m. on the Rivefront stage, and will have a demonstration tent.
The spring performance is the kids’ chance to share what they have learned and to perform before an appreciative audience.

The entire Paquita corps, consisting of students of upper levels at North Ballet Academy ranging in age of 11 through 16. (Photo by Paul Olson)

The entire Paquita corps, consisting of students of upper levels at North Ballet Academy ranging in age of 11 through 16. (Photo by Paul Olson)

 

There’s also a segment each spring show to educate the audience about ballet. This year’s demonstration segment, leading off Act 1, focused on how ballet dancers are created (and for good measure, how their shoes are created).

“We are in our fourth year now, so all the students have matured,” said Katie Kocinski, North Ballet owner.

Jacob Walters, 12, of Coon Rapids with Ellington Nichols, 13, of Oak Grove. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Jacob Walters, 12, of Coon Rapids with Ellington Nichols, 13, of Oak Grove. (Photo by Paul Olson)

“With different directors they have been able to learn from different styles. Miss Dvorak, from Bolshoi Academy, with her excellent expertise, has guided the students to an amazing place.

“This is a big undertaking but every year it is beautiful to watch.”

A featured performer was Allison Clawson, 18, of Princeton, with an emotionally-wrenching piece called “Bring Him Home,” portraying a young woman whose soldier husband has died in battle. She conveys confusion, anguish, loneliness and finally surrender to her sorrow.

Clawson has been with North Ballet since it opened in 2009 and is now a full-time instructor. Her piece was one of two selected from 12 participants in a choreography workshop to be presented at theSt. Michael Art Council Variety Show. North Ballet asked her to include it in their show.

Allison Clawson performed an original piece. (Photo by Sandy Carlson)

Allison Clawson performed an original piece. (Photo by Sandy Carlson)

“I wanted to do a really touching, moving piece, something that catches the audience’s attention and makes them feel emotion,” said Clawson.

She added that the song “Bring Him Home” gave her inspiration along with the fact that Ms. Dvorak’s husband is a Marine.

“Piano Guys did a cover of the song and I felt so much emotion I started dancing around and had to make a dance of it.”

Ava Belz, 15, of Elk River; Alyssa Veenker, 15, of Hanover; and Anna Sharpe, 13, of Otsego. (Photo by Paul Olson)

Ava Belz, 15, of Elk River; Alyssa Veenker, 15, of Hanover; and Anna Sharpe, 13, of Otsego. (Photo by Paul Olson)

 

 

 

Lead dancers included Jacob Walters, Ellington Nichols, Natalie Belz, and Elyse Jones. In the “Once Upon a Time” program, Jones had the lead as a little girl reading fairy tales and watching them spring from her imagination.

Belz, 14, of Elk River, currently the highest-level student at North Ballet and a teaching assistant, played Sleeping Beauty and Paquita among other parts.

“I always wanted to do ballet,” said Belz, “but my mom said I couldn’t unless we found a school that was all classical ballet, and we found North Ballet in 2009.”

Central character in "Once Upon a Time" is Elise Jones, 11,  of Brooklyn Center. (Photo by Mark Olson)

Central character in “Once Upon a Time” is Elise Jones, 11, of Brooklyn Center. (Photo by Paul Olson)

The young and aspiring ballet students at North Ballet, age 3 to 5, portray the Fairies. (Photo by Paul Olson)

Young and aspiring ballet students, age 3 to 5, portray the Fairies. (Photo by Paul Olson)

Red Shoes, choreographed by Breanna Dvorak, is performed by upper level students Abby Sharpe, 15, of Otsego; Natalie Belz, 14, of Elk River, and Ava Belz,15, of Elk River. (Photo by Mark Olson)

Red Shoes, choreographed by Breanna Dvorak, is performed by upper level students Abby Sharpe, 15, of Otsego; Natalie Belz, 14, of Elk River, and Ava Belz,15, of Elk River. (Photo by Paul Olson)

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