This past weekend will be long remembered in Cleveland ballet history as the first full fledged event of Ballet in Cleveland. Over the course of the weekend, Founding Director of Ballet in Cleveland, Jessica Wallis welcomed Allison DeBona to our fair city for a whirlwind weekend of radio and TV shows, dinners and two master classes. The two even found time for a few hours of pampering at a local downtown salon.
Wednesday started early with the taping of an on air interview with Dee Perry on her “Around Noon” show at WCPN where Jessica and Allison talked about Ballet in America, Breaking Point and Ballet in Cleveland. At 10:30 a.m. on Friday, March 1, the pair found themselves at Channel 3, WKYC for the broadcast of the “Live on Lakeside” show where they taught Hollie Strano and Michael Cardamone some ballet moves a la Baryshnikov and Fonteyn (NOT!). It was a fun time for all and a really cute segment, particularly when Jessica presented Allison (who was born in Pittsburgh and is a lifetime Steelers fan) with a Cleveland Browns jersey with her name on the back.
From there the dynamic duo headed to Dino Palmieri Salon on West 6th Street in downtown Cleveland for a hair and makeup session with Melodie Laird and Jenn Kidd doing the hair styling and Ty Vick (make-up artist to the stars) who did an exquisite job on their make-up. After a short rest, they ended up at the Ariel International Center where Jessica was awarded one of the Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club’s “Mover and Shaker” awards for her work in founding Ballet in Cleveland and her involvement with young professional organizations in the city.
Saturday was another early start with the Master Classes at the Gund Dance Studio at the Idea Center on Euclid Avenue at PlayhouseSquare. The class for younger dancers began at 10:00 a.m. for the younger class with the older students scheduled after lunch at 1:30 p.m.
It was here that Allison was truly in her own element as she gave personal attention to each and every student including 43 year old male dancer Craig Hendzel (who took up dancing for exercise and stress release only a year ago) and 11 year old Brady Rowan (a young man who already shows promise of a dance career ahead of him).
Both classes were sold out to capacity and judging by the smiles, everyone thought that it was a wonderful day well spent. Each student was able to participate in a question and answer session after the class as well as receive an official Ballet in Cleveland swag bag with a water bottle, Barre nutrition bar and autographed photo of Allison.
Mark Horning of Mark Horning and Company Photography was also on hand to photograph the sessions as well as take the group photos that are slated to be sent out to each participating student.
One special treat was the appearance at lunch of dancer, artist and jewelry designer Leigh A. (Griffiths) Bennett who danced during the 60’s and 70’s in England with The Royal Ballet, The Stuttgart Ballet Company in Germany and The National Ballet of Canada in Toronto as well as taught at the National Ballet School. She was invited to take part in the question and answer session for the older class along with Julia Erickson (principal Dancer of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre) and Aaron Ingley (former Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Dancer) who are the inventors of the “Real Food Barre” which is a nutritional energy bar developed by dancers for everyone. It was a wonderful sight, seeing three generations of dancers (teachers, professionals and students) all in one room at one time sharing ideas and suggestions.
After the dust settled from the master classes, everyone took a rest and met again at Cowell & Hubbard Restaurant at the corner of 13th Street and Euclid Avenue for a gala celebratory evening dinner with the patrons, staff and donors of Ballet in Cleveland that lasted well into the night. It was a delightful affair with lots of stories and anecdotes coupled with an excellent meal served by the staff of the restaurant. With that the weekend came to an end as new friends parted ways.
Rest assured that there are plans even now for more such events in the future. To keep abreast of what is happening with Ballet in Cleveland check out www.balletincleveland.org.