Celebrating 40 Years
Throughout the 2016-17 season, Ballet Midwest will be celebrating 40 years of sharing the art of classical ballet with the Topeka community! Keep checking back to learn more about exciting events surrounding this season!
Growing up in Topeka, current Artistic Co-Director, Barbara Ebert, had a vision of bringing high-quality classical ballet to the Topeka community. Ms. Ebert left Topeka to study at one of the nation's top ten ballet programs at the University of Utah. While there, she trained in all major styles of dance with a major in ballet and an emphasis in choreography and teaching. Out of her class of 200, Ms. Ebert was one of seven accepted to complete their degree and in 1973, she became the first ballet major allowed to complete her BFA in three years. During her time away from Topeka, she performed with Ballet West and was selected to work as a Teaching Assistant at her University.
Returning to Topeka with a degree in dance and professional dance experience, Ms. Ebert opened her private dance studio and in 1977 helped to form the first civic ballet company in Topeka. The company initially began with about 20 dancers and served as a trailblazer for dance and community-wide dance education through Nutcracker benefit performances, school programs, free community performances and more. Ballet Midwest is committed to giving local dancers amazing opportunities to grow in their dance technique, perform, educate others in the community, and also develop self-confidence, discipline and leadership skills. Ballet Midwest expanded it's program to add a junior company, allowing students in junior high school the opportunity to grow and experience quality training and performance opportunities. For over 40 years, Ballet Midwest has given over 1000 local dancers the opportunity to perform in full-length ballets. For the 2016-17 season, the Ballet Midwest Company and Junior Company is comprised of over 60 talented, local dancers.
Ballet Midwest has remained committed to not only provide the Topeka community with a full-length Nutcracker, but to also share full-length classics in the spring. Over the past forty years, Ballet Midwest has staged over 58 repertory pieces and ten full-length classics such as Swan Lake, Coppelia, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella.
Early in it's inception, Ballet Midwest placed an emphasis on making the arts accessible for all students. The tradition of offering a free-of-charge, full-length performance for area fourth graders has grown to include retirement centers and organizations such as TARC and Cappers. Currently, Ballet Midwest is the only area dance company to provide a free of charge, full-length performance for students, many of whom may never have the opportunity to experience a full-length performing arts production. (Please note, we are currently looking for businesses who might be willing to partner with us to help schools with tranpsortation. While we do not charge students a ticket price, schools have provided their own transportation. In light of severe funding cuts, many schools are struggling to find funding for field-trip transportation. Contact us to see how you might be able to partner with us to help our schools experience the arts!)
Over the years, Ballet Midwest dancers have toured in Eudora, Junction City, Kansas City, and Salina. Ms. Ebert choreographed and directed Ballet Midwest in "Ballet for Children," a lecture demonstration that was initially taken to 26 elementary schools. Currently, the company tours schools in cities such as Gardener to teach about ballet and share excerpts of the Nutcracker ballet.
Ballet Midwest has been involved in many local projects over the years. Ms. Ebert directed Sleeping Beauty for Performing Arts for Children. Ballet Midwest ballets have been featured both in a documentary on the Nutcracker ballet as well as a televised performance of Grasslands accompanied by a chamber orchestra. Ballet Midwest has partnered with the Washburn music department and toured with a performance of Hansel & Gretel. This October, the company will reprise a performance of Les Sylphide featuring live piano accompaniment (originally by James and Julie Rivers). Over it's rich forty year history, Ballet Midwest has shared over 725 community demonstrations.
This season, Ballet Midwest and it's associated subgroups will share six performances at the Topeka Performing Arts Center, including two free-will donation performances. In addition to the annual Nutcracker beneift performance, Ballet Midwest will partner with TPAC to offer a performance of Swan Lake as a part of the "Schooltime Theater Series." Additionally, Ballet Midwest will continue it's second year of a "My First Ballet" series, offering a narrated and abbreviated performance of Swan Lake.
Join us this year as we celebrate Ballet Midwest's rich history and commitment to sharing the art of classical ballet with the Topeka and surrounding communities!