Story by Liesel Schmidt
There’s something incredibly beautiful about ballet that commands attention, something unique and romantic that no over-engineered, technically enhanced screen production can replicate or replace. And in this day and age when computer generated entertainment seems to assault our senses at every turn, it’s inspiring to know that the art of ballet is as captivating as ever.
The captivation begins early, enchanting the hearts of little girls and boys with equal influence as their natural affinity to connect with music through dance often starts before they’re even able to form words. And as their connection grows, so, too does their focus on focused movement, channeling the rise and fall of music into fluid, graceful actions that express emotion in a way unlike any other. “Most young children are very visual and respond to hearing music with movement, some so much so that they seem to be dancing around the house all the time, without even realizing it,” says Artistic Director and CEO of Northwest Florida Ballet Todd Eric Allen. “The arts are magical to children, and usually the kids that are movers are naturally drawn to ballet—especially once they’ve seen the beautiful costumes, scenery, lights, and the music come together in a production.”
For companies like Northwest Florida Ballet, those productions are indeed a magical thing to watch; and as it dances into its 48th year, NFB is looking forward to an upcoming season of truly memorable performances by renowned dancers from all over the world as well as presentations by local talents greatly gifted with the art of grace. “We’re excited to be featuring many famous guest artists in our upcoming season,” Allen offers, citing the names of principals from some of the most celebrated companies in the world.
It’s an exciting season to be sure, starting things off with their opening production, World Ballet Stars, to unite the talents of world-renowned principals in one magnificent performance. Staying on pointe with a performance of Giselle in October, they’ll dance into the holidays with Nutcracker as well as “A Very Electric Christmas,” and keep the season flying high with their very first presentation of Peter Pan in March.
These are ballet at its best, the very lifeblood of this mesmerizing form of art and expression. These are the classics that inspire and delight, and to watch them unfold is to watch an artist at work. “At its essence, classical ballet is like storytelling without words,” explains Allen, “and the choreographer is like a painter, painting a visual story using the dancers as his medium on the canvas of a stage set with visually stunning scenery and costumes. Every movement is a brushstroke of color, and the experience is completely heightened by a musical score that adds depth to the emotions and events being brought to life.”
That life and that depth is what continues to connect people with ballet and keeps it so very relevant even in such a technological age. The desire to be a part of it all is the very reason that people not only love to watch, but also love to learn the techniques of this wonderful method of dance. For that very reason, ballet academies welcome students to their classes, providing aspiration and natural talent a place to be nurtured and given direction. And the instructors at NFB are doing precisely that, offering instruction in a variety of dance including ballet, Pointe, modern, jazz, and other contemporary styles to dancers of all ages and skill levels.
As these skills are given the floor, the tradition continues, giving rise to new generations of dancers and ballet lovers who keep the art alive, celebrating the very essence of beauty in motion.
Northwest Florida Ballet is located at 310 Perry Avenue SE, Fort Walton Beach, Florida 32548. For more information on the 2017-2018 schedule of performances, call (850) 664-7787 or visit www.nfballet.com. For information on NFB Academie and Community Classes at the Northwest Florida Ballet, call (850) 226-8072 or visit the website.