by Dance Editor Susan Lenz
Yesterday was the first time I've been inside Columbia Classical Ballet's rehearsal space near the corner of Trenholm and Forest. I came for the first of three "Studio Series" events. Two rows of folding chairs lined the mirrored wall and were filled to capacity. Everyone was personally welcomed. Wine and light hors d'oevres were served in an adjoining area, with the Ballet collecting monetary donations and distributing information about season memberships, program advertisement opportunities, and company sponsorship levels. The event began with several brief pleas for financial assistance. I didn't really mind the dollar-and-cent focus. Arts funding in Columbia really is at an all time low. More people need to both attend and contribute to performing arts…and, well...to ALL OF THE ARTS.
The dancing started nearly on time. Testosterone spun, leapt, and was barely contained by the six bare-chested young men who began the program with new choreography meant to feature their athleticism. The energy and applause grew, however, with classical variations, especially the pas de deux from Le Corsaire. The entire company filled the space for the final number. As impressive as the talent was, the nearness to the performers was the highlight of the experience. The audience could see muscles flexing, sweat beads forming, and truly feel the strength and passion that goes into the lives of these dancers.
Afterward, I asked Hayden Slaff, a new recruit fresh from two seasons with National Ballet in DC, what he enjoyed most about the afternoon. His answer in a nutshell: Seeing the faces in the audience. What he liked best was a two-way street. Columbia Classical Ballet's "Studio Series" is an up-close and personal opportunity to witness dance and dancers. I highly recommend this series.
"Studio Series" continues on Sunday, November 5, 2017 and Sunday, February 11, 2017. Both begin at 5:00. To attend, visit http://columbiaclassicalballet.com and fill out the online reservation or dial (803) 252-9112. I hope to see you there!