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Fort Wayne Ballet Performs for MU Students  
Ariel Smith
Staff Writer

A new kind of athleticism was brought to Manchester University on Thursday, November 15, when the Fort Wayne Ballet came to show off some excerpts from its rendition of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” their annual performance for the holiday season.

The performance also featured pieces from other shows the Ballet had done previously, including “Cinderella” and “Rodeo.” The ballerinas seemed to glide across the stage with little effort, their costumes glittering under the lights. From the young children to the young adults, each piece was beautifully done.

The Fort Wayne Ballet is the only professional dance company in Indiana as well as one of the nation’s premiere dance academies. They perform several shows each year that take a lot of time to put together and coordinate. Lucia Rogers, one of the principal company dancers as well as the Academy Coordinator and Lower Level Curricular Coordinator, described the process of putting a show together. The younger children begin auditions and rehearsals first, just working on the one show that is coming up. The company dancers and “pre-professional” students however, may be working on many different dances. “The thing about dance is that you are constantly learning new rep, but it’s not a matter of learning new rep and losing the old, it’s building upon so you have this library to pull from,” said Rogers when speaking about a piece that she had not performed in about a year.  

Much like other sports at Manchester University, the dancers have practice every day as well as cross training outside of practice, such as Pilates and yoga. Rogers also explained that the company strives to show that everybody can dance. The company does many other types of dancing besides ballet, so the performers must be ready for anything.

Unlike most other sports, ballet does not have an off-season for the company. They perform seasonal shows all year that, as Rogers explained, keeps them busy and in shape. The visit to Manchester University was like another practice for the company; it was also not their first time here. “Whenever you have opportunity to perform and share your art with someone else and hopefully inspire some young ones, it’s always a fantastic thing,” said Rogers about bringing their performance to MU.

The repertoires that the dancers have for their classical pieces such as “The Nutcracker” are based on classical dances. These pieces are very similar whether performed by the Fort Wayne Ballet or another company in Chicago or New York.  The more contemporary pieces that they performed were choreographed by David Ingram, another principal company dancer as well as the men’s division coordinator and choreographer, and also by Tracy Tritz, another faculty member at the academy.

Auditions for the Fort Wayne Ballet are open to the community. They do want most beginners to have a grip on the fundamentals of dance and be in classes, but anyone can audition starting at the age of six. The school is made up of about 250 students and the teachers often go into other Fort Wayne community schools to work with students that are interested in dance. “We want every child to have the opportunity to be able to use dance and movement to express themselves,” Rogers said.

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