Young ballerinas hold Winter Concert


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Wrapping up the semester with some chassés, the children and young adults of the University of Iowa Youth Ballet will host its Winter Concert Saturday in North Hall's Space/Place.

Along with the levels one, two, and three pieces and the levels four and five performance of The Snow Queen, choreographed by guest choreographer and Youth Ballet instructor Eleanor Goudie-Averill, the kids will carry out an extra part to the show. They will showcase their practiced pirouettes, arabesques, battements, and other techniques executed in their typical class time through what the organization calls a lecture demonstration or "lec dem."

Youth Ballet instructor Kristin Marrs said the institute believes in displaying the students' growth.

"I think it's an important thing to show, because it's great to have a finished product of choreography, but I also think it's really helpful for people to understand what the process of learning to be a dancer is and how [the students] got there," she said. "We're putting that out there for people to see what these kids have been working on so hard all semester long."

Marrs said the lecture-demonstration tactic was used for the first time last year at the fall performance of The Nutcracker. It was so successful that the Youth Ballet decided to use it this year as well.

"I feel that's so important for the parents to see," Goudie-Averill said. "Peeking into class is different from seeing the combinations danced fully, which is what they do every day. I think it's so impressive."

The faculty of the UI Youth Ballet includes UI Dance Department faculty, undergraduate students, and graduate students, as well as people uninvolved with the Dance Department.

Youth Ballet artistic director Jason Schadt says the program emphasizes opportunities for both students and faculty.

"Part of the mission of the Youth Ballet and what makes it special is that we're here to teach students to become great dancers and performing artists, but also to provide opportunities for instructors and choreographers to do rewarding work," Schadt said.

Goudie-Averill said Schadt provides a constructive, open-minded environment for staff to create this "rewarding work."

"One of my philosophies is that as a director, I try to be like an assistant, which you might think is kind of backwards," Schadt said. "I don't think it's all that helpful for a director to be like a dictator, especially when they're gathering together really creative and resourceful people. Instead, people do their best work when you just trust them to make the decisions that are right for them."

Goudie-Averill agreed that the program values faculty as much as students, noting that the UI Youth Ballet students are some of the smartest she's seen.

"Not only do you have the faculty teaching for you, but you also have some of the most amazing students who need this experience of teaching in a place that values the student in the way that the Youth Ballet does," she said.

The students' skills and work ethic will be apparent to audiences at the Winter Concert, Goudie-Averill said.

"What I think that Jason [Schadt] has fostered a curiosity in the students about how ballet works and functions scientifically," she said. "My mother came and watched rehearsal last week. She loved it, and she was just dazzled. But she also thought, 'These students are so smart. They ask questions, and they're so focused and disciplined, but they don't seem miserable.' I think that's what sets the Youth Ballet apart. Once these dancers are in it, they bind together as a community."

UI Youth Ballet Winter Concert
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Dec. 21
Where: Space/Place
Admission: $6-$12, free with UI student ID

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