The ballet bun is as synonymous with ballet as tutus and pointe shoes. But to the new dancer and their parents it can feel like quite a challenge. Buns serve a practical role in that they keep the hair out of the dancers’ face, minimize distraction for the dancer and teacher and even help with balance. They are as important a part of the ballet uniform as the tights and ballet shoes. I remember before one recital Mia’s grandmother offered to help cajole her head of huge curls into a bun fit for the stage. She had Mia hang off the couch upside down while she braided her hair from the bottom up to the middle, then braided her hair from the top down, met in the middle and somehow twisted it all together into a bun. To say making a bun was a daunting task would be an understatement. Until one day when Mia was about 10 and Amherst Ballet offered a bun making workshop. They paired off the upper school kids by hair type with the younger dancers and had them practice on each other. From that day on she was able to do her bun herself! AB is again offering these workshops and to see the excitement on the faces of the young dancers as they begin to learn this new skill is priceless. Check back often to find out when the next workshop is taking place!
Lisa Gallant, parent
The rehearsal process for Snow White is well underway! Since September the cast has been working extremely hard, and has learned the choreography for most of the performance. We have been working with three extremely talented musicians, who have generously provided us with practice recordings to rehearse with. We are very excited to share this performance with audiences in six weeks! It is shaping up to be a unique and very exciting show – we hope to see you there!
On Saturday, the Amherst Ballet Family Association held a Community Day in which the goal was to gather the community to help take care of a few things around the building. What a turn out! Dancers, parents and staff showed up to get the job done. While cleaning up the yard and windows were an important task, building community and working together to help create a stronger and more connected Amherst Ballet was the main goal. Volunteering is such an important aspect of being a member of Amherst Ballet, and it is something we are striving to get back to. We want to offer a great dance curriculum, but also an environment that people want to be a part of. On such a lovely day, it was great to see so many people helping out! If you weren't able to be there on Saturday, there will be plenty of volunteer opportunities to come! So a huge THANK YOU to all those who showed up and gave their free time to help out!
Before I was a ballet mom, I was a ballet sister. Amherst Ballet has been in my life in one capacity or another for the better part of 40 years. As a ballet sister I had to sit through many shows, watch my sister receive beautiful bouquets, and make the newspaper more than once. I might have been just a bit jealous of her strong and graceful body and her complete passion and dedication.
My daughter Mia has been dancing since she could walk. At 18 months she started her first ballet class and I became an official “ballet mom”. I had to learn to navigate the world of tights, leotards, ballet slippers and buns. As she got older that world expanded to dinner on the go, late rehearsals, stage make up and balancing homework, sore muscles and family time.
As a family having a serious dancer impacts us in many ways. We often schedule dinner around Mia’s class and rehearsal schedule, sometimes eating early, sometimes late and sometimes all separately. Her younger brother has gotten used to waiting during class and rehearsals and has the advantage of seeing a show come together start to finish.
As a parent I have enjoyed volunteering back stage or helping with costumes. I love the nervous excitement in the kids, being there to bring a bandaid for a sore toe, to give a pep talk to a nervous dancer or to help fix a last minute costume. Being involved in the dance community has given me the opportunity to spend some extra time with Mia and to get to know her friends and cohorts. Ballet keeps her away from home a lot and this extra way of spending time together has been welcomed.
As Mia has gotten older she has learned to tame her crazy curly hair into a tight bun, apply make up with more skill than I could ever dream of and has even become an expert on putting tights on in the car! The biggest issue we face these days is finding time to get to Ludlow or Easthampton for the pointe shoes she needs every few months!
Like any activity dance requires the cooperation and dedication of the whole family and community and has enhanced my life as a parent in immeasurable ways.
Lisa Gallant, Parent
A few weeks into the beginning of the ballet year, it is great to see dancers and their families catching up in the lobby and stairwells, getting (re)acquainted with new & returning classmates of all ages, and generally making Amherst Ballet warm, welcoming, and lively.
There have been some changes this fall at Amherst Ballet, and one of those changes is the establishment of an association for the Amherst Ballet family. If you’d like to join the Amherst Ballet Family Association (ABFA), it is open to dancers in the upper school, adult dancers, and parents/guardians of dancers. Our focus so far has been on community building, feedback, and volunteer coordination.
The ABFA meets in person once a month, on Thursday evenings; the October meeting will be Thursday, October 12, 6:15 pm at 81 McClellan Street. If you can’t meet (like, you are in an upper school rehearsal), but still want to be involved, email Beth (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask to be added to the ABFA email list. Most of us can’t make meetings at least some of the time, so we’re aiming to make good use of email as well.
Also, you may have noticed the new feedback boxes/envelopes in the first floor hallway and upper school changing room. Please make use of them! We want to hear how things are going:
One of the most exciting new opportunities at the studio this fall is the master class series with Eris Nezha. My son tells me I should have signed up for his beginning adult class, because his classes are great and I’ll never have this chance again. Consider enrolling in one of the last two classes this weekend.
Click here for more information and to enroll!
Finally, we are excited to be planning an upcoming DAY OF SERVICE on October 21 from 1-3 pm at Amherst Ballet. Part of the fun of being a non-profit is that we can all make a meaningful difference with small commitments. Please join in keeping our studio beautiful, while having the chance to get to know other members of the Amherst Ballet family. The main things that need to be done are weeding the beds in the front and along the side of the building as well as washing windows. ABFA will provide snacks/drinks. Questions? Email Beth: email@example.com.
Happy fall (although it felt like summer this week) and happy dancing!
Mary Hannah Henderson, dancer parent
You may or may not know this, but Amherst Ballet is a registered non-profit. What does that mean? In the simplest terms, it means that Amherst Ballet's goal is not to make a profit, but rather to work towards is's mission goal, which is the belief in our Ballet4All! initiative. We operate on a budget that is approved by our Board of Directors, and the goal for that budget is to break even at the end of the fiscal year. Some years, our expenses are greater than our income, and other years it's the opposite. This is the challenge when you are trying to figure out what your income and expenses will be months ahead of time. Our expenses are many and varied, and include things like teacher salaries, insurance, utilities, theater rentals, props, and since we own our building, a monthly mortgage payment! Tuition helps cover some of these costs, but we also rely on donations and grants. Because we are registered with the government as a non-profit, we are eligible to receive grants and donations on a tax-free basis, and those same gifts are tax-free to the donor, as well. So the next time you see an annual appeal letter, or a request for items or help with accomplishing something around the studio, remember that we need that help in order to bring quality dance instruction to our students!
We were so happy to have the wonderful Eris Nezha with us at Amherst Ballet on the 9th.
He ran two really lovely classes, even through an unexpected case of food poisoning - a very committed professional!
I spoke with Eris afterward who had this to say: "I saw a great deal of talent there in class, some very beautiful dancers!"
He's looking forward to being back on the 23rd to continue to work with some of these dancers, and welcome new ones as well.
The next classes will meet on the 23rd and the 30th of September. We will be scheduling a group picture at the end of each class with Eris going forward. If you were in the classes on the 9th and would like to join one of the group shots later please come at the end of the second class on the 23rd or the 30th. Our intermediate class was completely full on Saturday- be sure to grab a spot on the other days if you want to keep working with Eris in September. So happy to bring this program to AB! With your support we can make it the first of many special programs!
President, Board of Directors
Click here to enroll in the remaining classes
Today Molly and Josh made the trek to UMass to attend the UAW Graduate Benefits Fair! This was all about getting the Amherst Ballet name out into the community, and a way to introduce Ballet4All! to people who may not know who we are or what we do. Expanding both our School and Adult Programs with members of the UMass family is a great way to grow both of our Missions. If you were one of the many people who stopped by to say hello and learn more about Amherst Ballet, we can't wait to see you in class!
There have been a lot of changes at Amherst Ballet this summer. We have a new Artistic Director, small changes to the program, and a new Amherst Ballet Family Association! However, none are as visible as....A NEW DANCE FLOOR IN THE UPPER STUDIO!!! The old floor was badly in need of replacement, as it had been broken through and then patched in places. With the help of some very generous anonymous donors and our "Contractor Extraordinaire" Brian Plummer (and Sully!), we were able to replace the floor during the last week of August! The project started on a Monday, and by Friday afternoon the new floor was installed. All that was left was laying the marley... Josh and Molly started on Friday afternoon, and it quickly became apparent that it would be a tougher task than originally thought. So they decided that Labor Day would not be a day off, but rather a day of laying marley! And to their great surprise, Board President Rebecca Guay had recruited some Board members, parents and students to come in and help! With their assistance, the floor was finished in a few hours, ready in time for the new season! What a sense of community! Scroll through the gallery below to see how the project unfolded!
Want to see the finished floor? You'll have to come in and see for yourself! Welcome to the 2017/2018 season! Happy Dancing!