We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy during this difficult time. Grand Rapids Ballet School remains responsive to the unfolding COVID-19 conditions, keeping the health and safety of our students, staff, and community as first priority.
At the direction of Michigan Governor Whitmer’s state-wide order for schools to close for the remainder of the semester, we have suspended all operations and the reopening of Grand Rapids Ballet School until it is deemed safe to do so. As such, it is with greatest regret that we announce the cancellation of our 2020 Summer Intensives and Summer Camps.
We look forward to our return to the studios as soon as possible to continue to bring professional ballet instruction to our community. In the event it is safe to reopen mid-summer, and we have the time and resources to prepare, we will post information about the opportunity for summer classes on this page. Thank you for your continued support of Grand Rapids Ballet School.
Grand Rapids Ballet has been monitoring the global outbreak of COVID-19 and planning for a variety of contingencies as the virus has spread. Our highest priority is to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of every audience member, dancer, student, parent, staff member, volunteer, and our West Michigan community. We are also reviewing guidance from government authorities at the federal, state, and local governments. Ensuring health and safety now means taking actions to limit potential exposure to the virus and create social distancing.
We encourage you to learn more about the virus, free virtual screening, symptoms, ways to prevent transmission, and more from our friends and partners at Spectrum Health.
Effective Friday, March 13, the following performances have been postponed:
MARCH 13 | Aladdin | 7:30pm | Peter Martin Wege Theatre
MARCH 14 | Aladdin & Jasmine’s Royal Tea | 11am | New Hotel Mertens
MARCH 14 | Aladdin | 2pm | Peter Martin Wege Theatre
MARCH 15 | Aladdin | 2pm | Peter Martin Wege Theatre
MARCH 21 | Aladdin | 2pm | Peter Martin Wege Theatre
MARCH 22 | Aladdin | 2pm | Peter Martin Wege Theatre
The following performances have been cancelled:
APRIL 6-10 | Spring Break for Kids: Little Red Riding Hood | 11am | Peter Martin Wege Theatre
TICKET POLICY FOR POSTPONED PERFORMANCES Aladdin and Aladdin & Jasmine’s Royal Tea have been postponed. New dates to be announced and no refunds are being issued at this time.
TICKET POLICY FOR CANCELLED PERFORMANCES For Spring Break for Kids refunds, contact our box office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide your name, performance date, # of tickets purchased, and contact number and we will get back to you as quickly as possible with options.
GRAND RAPIDS BALLET CLOSURE DATES
Effective Friday, March 13, Grand Rapids Ballet administrative and box office staff will be working remotely and the office will be physically closed through Sunday, April 12. However, we will have the ability to answer ticket inquiries and requests by phone on a limited basis and will get back to you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, tickets may always be purchased online at grballet.com.
GRAND RAPIDS BALLET SCHOOL CLOSURE DATES
Effective Friday, March 13, Grand Rapids Ballet School offices will be closed and no classes will be held through Sunday, April 5. You will receive updates via email should this date change.
We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your understanding. Thank you for your continued support of Grand Rapids Ballet and Grand Rapids Ballet School.
Learn more about Grand Rapids Ballet School Junior Company’s production of Aladdin
A Q&A with Grand Rapids Ballet’s Marketing Coordinator, Julie Lesniak
Before Aladdin opens on March 13 and runs for two weekends at Peter Martin Wege Theatre, I went behind-the-scenes with choreographer, former professional dancer, and current Grand Rapids Ballet School and Junior Company Director, Attila Mosolygo. I wanted to learn more about his creative process and what audiences can expect from his production of this classic story.
Q: Attila, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions today. Is this your first time choreographing Aladdin?
A: You’re welcome. Yes, this is my first time choreographing this story myself and on the Junior Company. It’s very exciting to bring new material to the city and to our student dancers.
Q: What inspired your choice?
A: As a child, I read Aladdin and really enjoyed it. Fast forward to now and my son and daughter are big fans of the story, too. I thought it would make a great children’s ballet since it is obviously a story that is loved by many generations. My family is the perfect example.
Q: What are the similarities and differences between this production of Aladdin and the Disney movie with which so many audiences are familiar?
A: Though my interpretation of the story is based on a folktale from the book One Thousand and One Nights and not the Disney movie, there are similarities. For instance, our story will have some of the same characters, but a key difference in ours is Aladdin’s mom is part of the ballet. Also, there will be not one but two genies in our version: the Genie of the Ring and the Genie of the Lamp.
Q: Who doesn’t need more magical genies in their life, right? That’s great! I hear a giant dragon will make an appearance, too. Tell us more.
A: The dragon opens our story so he’s very important in setting the tone for the entire production which is why I’ve been working so hard to create him myself. This addition was my idea as I wanted to give a little background on the origins of the magic oil lamp. Building the dragon was a challenge, since I had never made one before. But I like a challenge as people know. There was a lot of paper, foam, and glue involved and I used vibrant colors to catch the attention of the audience right away. His character is as important as any other in the show and I know he’s going to love the applause (laughs).
Q: Wow, we are certainly excited to see him on stage! What about costumes and lighting? How will each compliment the dragon?
A: For both costumes and lighting I wanted strong, energetic colors; I want to make a big statement on stage. Costumes are designed by our costume shop manager, Ronald Altman. Once costumes are in place, we can begin designing the lighting plot, so that’s still very much a work in progress. It will be eye-catching and full of excitement, though. I can guarantee it.
Q: Before you get back to work, how would you describe this production of Aladdin in one word?
A: The first word that comes to mind — or I would like audience members to think of when they see the ballet— is inspiring. The Junior Company dancers work very hard to bring my vision to life and they take my directions very seriously. For some, it is their first time performing with the group, so they have to give me their trust and be willing to try new things. Senior members of the company are wonderful role models for the new dancers as I am asking them to do things they have never done before. It makes for a very exciting creative process for everyone involved. This ballet is a great way to introduce children and adults to the wonderful world of costumes, lights, sets, props, choreography, storytelling, music, and the magic of dance. This is certainly a production full of adventure that you and your family don’t want to miss!
See the Grand Rapids Ballet School Junior Company preform Aladdin, March 13- 15 and 21-22 at Peter Martin Wege Theatre. Tickets are on sale now on Ticketmaster, our website, and our box office at 341 Ellsworth Avenue SW, or by calling 616.454.4771 x10 today.
Grand Rapids Ballet School
Hometown: East Lansing, Michigan
Dance experience: 29 years. Received a BFA in dance from Oakland University and a master’s in Arts Development from University of Denver. Danced for various contemporary companies. Performed as a B-girl and a backup dancer.
Favorite movie: Some Like It Hot
Favorite food: Sushi
Best season: Fall
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Maui
The countless intricate details in The Nutcracker all come together seamlessly every December to create West Michigan’s favorite family holiday tradition seen by over 50,000 people since its premiere in 2014.
• In each performance, there are 68 Grand Rapids Ballet School students and approximately 40 company dancers—most of whom are doing multiple roles. In fact, any company dancer can do up to five separate roles per show!
• There are 149 original costumes with 58 of those being tutus which require over 5,000 yards of tulle.
• There are three Sugar Plum Fairy tutus, five Marzipan Castle scene tutus, 19 snow scene tutus, 15 Waltz of the Flower tutus, two Spanish tutus, 10 harlequin tutus, and two Dream Clara tutus.
• It takes seven full-size semi-trucks to move the entire production to DeVos Performance Hall.
• It takes seven days to assemble the Broadway-quality sets designed by Tony Award winner Eugene Lee based on the illustrations of The Polar Express author Chris Van Allsburg.
• There are 15 toy soldiers and seven mice in each fight scene including one infamous Mouse King.
• There are 12 individual snowflakes in the snow scene and 12 pink flowers twirl with one Sugar Plum Fairy in the Waltz of the Flowers.
• In each performance, 30+ crowns and tiaras are worn: 12 snow scene crowns, 1 Dream Clara tiara, two Sugar Plum Fairy tiaras, and three Marzipan Castle crowns. Talk about glamour!
• Clara’s Nutcracker Party is attended by 400 happy children, parents, and grandparents.
• The company and school both spend at least two months rehearsing Val Caniparoli’s gorgeous choreography including two dress rehearsals.
All of this adds up to one spectacular show that you and your family won’t want to miss. Tickets are available at 616.454.4771 x10 or on our website.
Often daunting, always exciting, summer intensives are of the utmost importance for the training of a pre-professional dancer. Most are between three and five weeks, jam-packed with learning, dancing, and making new memories. All professional dancers started as students much like you, attending summer intensives and feeling excited and nervous. As a student, I found that the summer intensives I attended ended up being some of the most transformative years of my training toward become a professional dancer. Whether it be the stellar training, diverse repertoire, adventurous weekend activities, or friendships I made, I never regretted attending a single one of them. Regardless if you’re attending a shorter three-week program or even a longer seven-week program, here are some tips to help you survive and thrive during your summer intensive.
Tip #1: BE NICE
• As in life, this applies to everyone at your intensive. These are your peers, contemporaries, and teachers. You will run into them again, so always have a smile and a kind word.
Tip #2: BE PREPARED TO GIVE 100%
• Make sure you’re in shape before you arrive; do not take time off leading up to an intensive. Up to two weeks before you arrive, you should be taking class every day to ensure your body is in good condition.
• Pack the right things in your suitcase. Of course, start with ballet clothes that follow your school’s dress code, but be prepared to spend time outside the studio exploring your host city. For example, Grand Rapids gets quite warm in the summer but it occasionally has a cooler rainy day (this is Michigan, after all—if you don’t like the weather, just wait an hour). So, you should pack summer clothes and a rain jacket. And don’t forget things like a sewing kit.
• Stay positive. Remember teachers only give corrections because they are trying to help you, so don’t allow yourself to get into the mindset one teacher doesn’t like you. And please don’t fret about your level placement; you are placed in the level in which the school faculty knows you will succeed.
• Work hard and your effort to improve will be noticed. Give everything your best effort; there’s no time like the present to work hard.
Photo: Jade Butler
Tip #3: BE CURIOUS
• The need for a dancer who is able to do both classical ballet and contemporary dance is growing. so it’s important to start as a student—be open to trying new styles.
• You may be scheduled to take classes you don’t normally take at your home studio like character, hip-hop, or Pilates. These classes are all great ways to grow and learn as a dancer and they were included in the curriculum to help you. And you might just end up loving it.
• Remember, your teachers might teach a step slightly differently than they do at your home studio. That’s OK. Different styles of ballet steps (Vaganova, Cecchetti, Balanchine) have differences and it does not mean they are teaching the step incorrectly. As a professional dancer, the choreographer wants you to do their step their way—not your way, mom’s way, or your home studio’s way. Again, you will learn something new, which is always a good thing. Trust them.
“One of the best things about a summer intensive is all of the new information you receive. Whether it’s learning from new students attending an intensive at your home studio, or attending a summer program at a different school, my advice is to be as open as possible. Hold on to everything you know about ballet lightly, and see what matches up based on what you see and what you are taught. If something doesn’t ring true, you can discard it when you go back to your normal training in September, but challenge yourself to try new things for the entire time you are in the new environment.” —Steven Houser, Grand Rapids Ballet Company Dancer and Ballet Master
Photo: Jade Butler
Tip #4: DRESS TO IMPRESS
• I think you know what I am going to say here: Follow the dress code that is a given to you to the letter. Remember, you’re asked to wear a black leotard or pink tights so your teacher can see your lines well. You’re only at this school for a short number of weeks, so you want to put your best foot forward figuratively and literally.
• Show up ready to shine with your hair done nicely and pulled away from your face with no holes or runs in your tights (remember that sewing kit I referenced earlier?)
• Dancing 4-6 hours a day means a lot of sweat, so wear deodorant and shower regularly. This is common sense.
Tip #5: FUEL YOURSELF
• Make sure you’re eating enough to sustain how much dancing you’re doing every day. When you’re craving a snack, have one, but make sure it’s nutritious, sustainable, and minimally processed. And it goes without saying: water, water, and more water.
• Sleep six to eight hours per night (maybe even more, if possible). There’s nothing like a full night’s sleep to prepare you for a full day of dancing and working hard.
Photo: Jade Butler
Tip #6: HAVE FUN
• Enjoy yourself! Go on those weekend activities; I promise you will make memories that will last a lifetime.
• Connect with your new friends…Instagram, email, Facebook, phone numbers, Snapchat. Keep in contact and continue to grow your dance network. You may find yourself next to many of them at the barre in the future and a friendly face is always a nice thing to see.
“During a summer intensive you spend the entire day dancing which can take a toll on your body. I try to spend time every morning before class rolling out and time after the day is over to stretch. I’ve found that this is the best way to prep my body for the long day ahead and also relax after a whole day of dancing.” —Sophia Brodin, Grand Rapids Ballet Summer Intensive student
When it comes to their kids, parents want them to have the best. Exposure to things like sports and the arts help them to become more well rounded young men and women. Have you thought about ballet? Kids are into all sorts of after-school sports and other activities like piano and violin lessons. Dancing is a great medium for both girls and boys. And, they can start young. Classical ballet may have been pushed aside in favor of tap dancing, hip-hop, jazz and other forms. But, did you know that beginning with ballet will help with these other types of dancing? That is just one little secret we’re letting you in on. Ballet dancers make it look effortless as they move across the stage. From the lifts to the toe points, many wonder how they can do it. Your kids can also be a part of this through the practice of classical ballet. Ballet classes can start for young kids around ages four and five. For them, being in front of all those mirrors and the bar is something new and exciting. Some of the benefits of ballet for young kids are:
They learn to follow instructions
They gain a sense of discipline through learning new positions
They learn co-ordination, balance and how to control their bodies in motion
They are active and getting daily exercise
They become comfortable performing before groups
When a child is young, learning new things is easier for them. They can adapt and learn more quickly than when they are older. So, once a child begins in ballet at an early age, they are not only learning a valued art form but also getting trained for the life that is ahead of them. This is just the beginning, though. As a child continues to pursue ballet, youíll see more benefits emerging – especially when they become adolescents and into the teenage years.
They develop long and strong muscles from the practice of ballet
They gain a sense of self-confidence and pride in their bodies and what they can accomplish
They learn how to work to get what they want out of their performance
The skills learned in ballet are useful for other forms of dancing like tap or jazz if they want to take that up later
They learn about proper nutrition to keep their bodies in shape so they can dance
Maybe you’ve never considered ballet as an after-school activity before. Now that you are aware of some of the wonderful benefits of this form of dance you have another option for your children. Who knows, one day they could be dancing across stages all over the country and beyond.