Dallas — Looking for something to do with Mom this Mother’s Day weekend? Consider taking her to see Ballet Dallas’ season closer Bloom, May 10-11, at the Latino Cultural Center in Dallas. The program features new works by Ballet Dallas’ co-artistic director Carter Alexander and guest choreographer Durante Verzola as well as a re-staging of Alexander’s duet Sarabande and a revival of George Skibine’s Romantic Encounters.
The man in charge of bringing Skibine’s work back to life is non-other than local ballet master Thom Clower. Clower is well-known throughout the North Texas dance community for his enthusiasm and playful banter in and out of the studio as well as for his vast knowledge of classical repertoire. He has taught master classes around the area, including Dallas Ballet Center, Denton City Contemporary Ballet and Ballet Academy of Texas where he is also the artistic director of the school’s pre-professional ballet company, Ballet Ensemble of Texas.
Clower was 9 when he began his dance training with Skibine and his wife Marjorie Tallchief at the Dallas Civic Ballet in 1968. He also trained at the School of American Ballet in New York as well as in Paris, Amsterdam and London. He began teaching in 1974 and joined Dallas Ballet in 1978 where he spent 11 seasons with the company under Skibine and Flemming Flindt.
Clower also served as the founding artistic director of the restructured Ballet Dallas and the affiliate school, the Dallas Conservatory of Ballet. Under his direction, Ballet Dallas was the resident professional ballet for the Dallas area for eight years, carrying on the traditions of the former company.
And as a representative of the George Skibine Trust, Clower also helps maintain the integrity of Mr. Skibine’s ballets, staging them across the county.
Clower says Alexander approached him about a year ago about staging Romantic Encounters for the Bloom performance. The two of them have a history that goes back to when Alexander first came to Dallas as a young man and studied for a time with Clower at the Dallas Conservatory of Ballet.
“He was there at the first Ballet Dallas production when we performed Romantic Encounters and he loved the piece,” Clower says. “It is passionate and musical, and has a small cast… all of which were things that he was interested in for his company. Additionally, they are truly wanting to honor the history of dance in Dallas and draw a parallel between what is now and what once was. It is a truth of life that if one wants to move forward successfully, one must know from where they came!”
Going into rehearsals Clower says he was very excited about restaging the ballet for this company. Video and muscle memory where Clower’s best resources in order to create what he says, “Is a true version of what Skibine wanted with the piece.” He also notes that the dancers were very receptive and willing to try anything that the work requires. He explains, “There are some interesting lifts and holds in the work and it requires that the partners trust each other…much like a successful romantic encounter.”
As I mentioned above, Clower worked closely with Skibine and Tallchief for many years. He credits both of them for bringing performers and productions from all over the world to Dallas. And by combining old school classic ballets and cutting edge choreography, Clower says the couple built the Dallas Civic Ballet into a world recognized professional ballet company.
“Their love of dance, and their dedication to the art form, was a lesson that many of us that were there at that time learned through osmosis. So many of us have gone on to have very successful careers in many areas of the dance business because of them.”
» Katie Dravenstott is a freelance writer and dance instructor in Dallas. Visit her blog at www.kddance.wordpress.com