While 2012 was a less than stellar year for local businesses, it was a year of great growth for Avant Chamber Ballet and the arts in Dallas-Fort Worth; a look back at 2012 is the story of our company.
Avant Chamber Ballet may have been founded in early 2012, but the roots of the company go back much farther. I moved back to the DFW area four years ago after living abroad for two years. It was disheartening to find no ballet or dance programs presenting programs with live music, but the developing arts district and local artists kept me inspired. ACB grew from the enthusiasm of the many great freelance dancers I know in the area with the same philosophy of pairing dance and live music. As soon as I approached some friends with the idea for ACB, amazing musicians stepped forward to show their interest in the project as well.
2012 was a year of making goals and surpassing them. It has been more than a whirlwind: our first target this year was to present a new piece of choreography combining professional dancers and live musicians at Plano Dance Festival. ACB's first ballet, "Madsen Sonata," fell into place with surprising ease, using three local dancers plus French horn player David Cooper of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and concert pianist Cary Chow, visiting Texas from Vancouver BC. Even before that project was finished, we were moving onto a full evening performance of new works.
With new choreography and David Cooper as newly appointed music director, ACB had its debut performance in June, with Cary Chow returning as pianist. We were suddenly a company of eight dancers and five musicians.
In October, ACB expanded to three performances: two again in Grapevine and adding one evening at the Eisemann Center. Programs featured four new works of choreography and showcased soloist musicians Angela Fuller, violin, and Konstantyn Tranvinsky, piano.
Avant Chamber Ballet has performed a total of seven times this year, and five of those were full evenings of choreography with our own dancers and musicians. We also presented seven world premiere ballets of new choreography, all with live music from top local and guest musicians. We are now a company of nine dancers and this spring we will be 10.
Looking back, I am personally very thankful, not only to our amazing dancers and musicians, but to the patrons who were willing to volunteer their time and talents because they believe in our vision. In 2013, Avant Chamber Ballet will strive to grow artistically, increase the number of performances, but remain a unique and flexible company. We are commissioning new works of music and choreography and initiating an outreach and educational program. We will return to Plano Dance Festival on Saturday, April 6 and to the Eisemann Center on Sunday, June 9.
It is easy to be pessimistic when it comes to funding and the arts, but this year has proven to me that a group of talented artists who are passionate can create interest and attract an audience no matter what the financial situation might be. If recent events have taught me anything, it is that we always need art to fuel our soul.
◊ Katie Puder is a founder of Avant Chamber Ballet
◊ From now through the end of the year, look for essays from director Michael Serrecchia, actor/dancer Jeremy Dumont, playwright and dramaturg Vicki Caroline Cheatwood, Jonathan Pell of Dallas Opera the On the Eve creators, Jonathan Fielding of Amphibian Stage Productions and others. If you'd like to contribute an essay, email Mark Lowry at email@example.com. Essays in the series so far are from:
- Raphael Parry, artistic director of Shakespeare Dallas and Project X: Theatre
- Actress Amber Nicole Guest, who had a breakout year at Lyric Stage
- Jerry Russell, founder of Stage West