Dallas — When Nicolina Lawson started Ballet North Texas (BNT) in 2017, one of her goals was to bring the art form of ballet into communities that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to see a dance performance. The company accomplished this last season with its touring Nutcracker production, which had stops in Palestine, Terrell and Dallas. This winter BNT will be performing The Nutcracker again in Dallas and Terrell and in 2020 will be performing at venues in Irving, Plano and Fort Worth.
“We wanted to encompass the whole area,” Lawson says about including North Texas in the company’s name. “Obviously we are based in Dallas and we want to be in Dallas, but we also want to go outside of the area because once you get outside of the Metroplex there isn’t a whole lot in terms of dance. You would have to go all the way to Waco.”
She adds, “This goes for our outreach as well. Last year when we did our Nutcrackers a lot of the performance fees were sponsored so the kids weren’t even having to pay. So, we’re reaching beyond our immediate area and trying to include everyone.”
BNT will be kicking off its second season with Night on the Trinity, Sept 19-20, at Moody Performance Hall. BNT will repeat the show Oct. 12 at the Scott Theater at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center.
The program includes BNT Associate Artistic Director Anna Sessions’ Mélange d'épices, Arthur Saint- Léon and Fanny Cerrito’s La Vivandière as well as two world premieres by Lawson and Cindy Michaels. Ballet Frontier of Texas (BFT) will also be making a guest appearance, which Lawson says she was excited about.
“I’ve been wanting to work with them for a while,” Lawson says about BFT. “I met them because when I was with Wichita Falls Ballet Theatre we came down to perform in one of their Youth Festivals. And I think it was through Facebook that Enrica and I realized we had danced with the same couple in Italy.”
Lawson adds, “We’re kind of doing an exchange because we will performing in their Director’s Choice performance in February.” BFT will be performing to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet, movements 2 and 4.
Looking over the entire program Lawson says it’s a very well-rounded show. “As far as style goes, my piece is much more edgy contemporary. Then BFT is bringing that classical piece. Cindy’s piece is more character and folky and then Anna Sessions’ piece is more neo-classical. It’s very fast, light and playful. And then we have La Vivandière, which is the Bournonville style.”
For her piece, Lie Within Crimson, Lawson says she was inspired by Anthony Costarella’s alternative rock composition. The ballet features three dancers dressed simply in black and red leotards and tights. Lawson says it’s a tough ballet for the dancers because none of them leave the stage for the whole piece. “There’s some settling moments before it takes off again, but it’s still definitely a marathon.”
And in other big news BNT will be moving into its official home later this fall. The North Texas Conservatory will be the official training school for the company. The 6,800-square-foot space will feature three studios: one smaller space and two larger spaces modeled off the size of the Moody Performance Hall stage.
“We kind of are following in the structure of ABT, PNB or Houston Ballet where we’re really building the pyramid up to the top,” Lawson says about creating North Texas Conservatory. “So, training the kids from the bottom all the way up into the company and just having it all one unit.”
She adds, “We wanted to be able to stand on our own. And as far as the structure and everything we really wanted to start a pre-professional program and a trainee program, which we managed to do. So we have both those programs going this year which is just really exciting too.”
» Katie Dravenstott is a freelance writer and dance instructor in Dallas. Visit her blog at www.kddance.wordpress.com