The School of Ballet Arizona: Education & Performance
Ib Andersen in rehearsal for The School of Ballet Arizona’s production of “Swan Lake.” Photo by Tzu Chia Huang.
As part of Ballet Arizona’s mission, we believe in creating, performing, and teaching outstanding classical and contemporary ballet, a belief that also holds true at The School of Ballet Arizona (SBAZ). One aspect that continues to set SBAZ apart from other dance schools in the Valley as well the Country, is not only its direct relationship with a critically acclaimed professional company but the performance opportunities it provides its more than 270 students.
Each school year, SBAZ produces three performances, including two full-length storybook ballets. There are also a multitude of opportunities for students to perform with the professional company depending on the needs of the ballet. From page boys and fairy attendants in The Sleeping Beauty to the Swan Corps in Swan Lake, students of all ages have the chance to step onto the big stage and perform alongside professional dancers.
To the average person outside of the dance world, this may not seem like a big deal but it is rare for a school to provide so many performance opportunities, a sentiment shared by Upper Division student Camille Sevrain. “What makes the School of Ballet Arizona so special are the incredible opportunities students here are given, from performing full-length ballet productions to having opportunities to be on stage with the professional company, “says Sevrain. “The professional dancers are so inspirational, and to be able to work beside them, under Mr. Andersen’s direction, is an incredible and very special opportunity. I don’t take for granted how rare it is as a student to have this insight and professional stage experience.”
SBAZ student Camille Sevrain in Ib Andersen’s “Coppelia.” Photo by Brianne Bland.
Performing on stage provides a range of benefits for a student’s dance education. From the further enrichment of their dance curriculum and skills, to boosting their confidence and fostering a great work ethic, it also prepares students for what life could potentially be like as a professional dancer and the demanding nature of the career.
“Having the chance to dance, rehearse, and get taught by the professional dancers and the company is truly a dream come true,” says level 5 student Rogelio Martinez. “The feeling of dancing on the same stage as the professional company is a blessing. The company inspires me and they show me to never give up and that I will be in there shoes one day.”
This past fall, the entire school participated in the full-length production of Ib Andersen’s Swan Lake. During the rehearsal process, students were able to learn from Andersen himself, who presided over a number of rehearsals. This spring, Upper Division students tackled Marius Petipa’s famous ballet Don Quixote that will highlight their classical training, and this month the entire school will take to Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix and perform various pieces that are focused around their yearly curriculum.
Maria Escobedo, mother of Rogelio Martinez, shared her perspective as a parent in the school: “I am so proud of my son. I see his growth and how SBAZ has encouraged him and that through hard work and dedication he has become disciplined in not only dance but also a better student… As a single mother and without support or encouragement from his father, it would have been impossible for me to keep by son in ballet without the help and support of SBAZ scholarship, so again I say thank you, I am truly grateful.”
Students in The School of Ballet Arizona’s production of Ib Andersen’s “Don Quixote.” Photo by Tzu Chia Huang.