December 7, 2012 at 3:17 PM CST - Updated June 28 at 4:40 PM
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC)
The Lake Charles Civic Ballet has been busy this week rehearsing for "Christmas in Louisiana: Once Upon a Time," with their first performances occurring at the Rosa Hart Theatre on Thursday, Dec. 6 and Friday, Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. These performances were for students. There will be performances open to the general public on Saturday, Dec. 8 with a matinee at 11 a.m. and a gala at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. For tickets, call 337-474-0311 or visit www.lakecharlescivicballet.com.
"Christmas in Louisiana: Once Upon a Time" was choreographed by artistic director Lady Holly Hathaway Kaough with sets by local artist Fred Stark. The ballet tells the history of Lake Charles – from the first LeBleu and Sallier settlers to famed pirate Jean Lafitte and his crew to the historic Majestic Hotel and the Ryan St. Trolley – in honor of the bicentennial of Louisiana achieving statehood.
"The LCCB brings all art forms together in one full package – Lady Leah, our founder, called it ‘total theatre.' You don't just get ballet; you get a complete story told through acting, dancing, music and fabulous costumes and settings," said former LCCB president Kelley Saucier. "LCCB brings visual and performing arts together in one place, so audiences get exposure to many artistic elements."
The Lake Charles Civic Ballet (LCCB) was chartered in 1968 and has since put on a variety of performances, including "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Sleeping Beauty," "Cinderella," "Petruchka" and "Sheherazade." The LCCB often collaborates with the Lake Charles Symphony to provide music for its productions.
In addition to performing classics, the LCCB also produces its own works, such as "The Fable," which will be performed in March 2013 for Assemble 2013, said Saucier. "The Fable" was choreographed by Artistic Director Emeritus Lady Leah Lafargue and Artistic Director Lady Holly Hathaway, and it was composed by the late Keith Gates, a former professor at McNeese. Sets for the work were designed by local artist Fred Stark of Stark Design & Illustration.
Dancers for the LCCB normally range from 11 years old to over 20 years old. Occasionally, dancers from the Lady Leah Lafargue School of Dance (LLLSD), established in 1957 and the official school of the LCCB, perform with the LCCB. Dancers from the LLLSD can be as young as 3 years old.
"I began as a student of the Lady Leah Lafargue School of the Dance at the age of 6. The creative outlet it provides our youth and the amazing opportunities for our youth as well as all those involved in a production such of this is a blessing. Lady Leah gave me not only the wonderful gift of dance but also the gift of many character qualities and insight to the appreciation of the arts," said LCCB Board President Donita Helms.
"I am happy to have two children participating and being afforded those same opportunities and blessings under the direction of Lady Holly. I believe in the arts and the foundation it provides to all those who experience it," Helms added.
Katelyn Chargois, a Principal dancer for the LCCB, said she started dancing through Lady Leah Lafargue's School of Dance, and she has been dancing for 12 years. Chargois is featured in "Christmas in Louisiana: Once Upon a Time" in the "Ave Maria" scene, the Majestic Waltz, the caroling scene and the Kilties scene.
"I hated ballet, to be perfectly honest. I wanted to be a gymnast, and my sister did ballet – she was obsessed with ballet. She wanted to be the prima ballerina, but it was not easy to get me to gymnastics and my sister to ballet at the same time, so my mom said, ‘You're gonna do ballet,' and I ended up being pretty good at it," Chargois said.
Adrian Durham, a soloist for the LCCB, has been dancing for 7 years. He said he began with tap dancing and later switched over to ballet. Durham is featured in "Christmas in Louisiana: Once Upon a Time" in "Toy Trumpet" and the Majestic Waltz. Durham also plays Charles Sallier in the production.
Durham said that the movie "Bojangles," based on the life of entertainer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, inspired him to give tap dancing a try.
"I started tap dancing a lot, just around the house. I put tacks on the bottom of my shoes, and then one of the moms of one of the people who dances here said, ‘Oh, you should sign him up for tap classes,' so I did that. Lady Holly talked me into being the robot in ‘Rudolph,' and then I started taking regular ballet classes from there," Durham said.
"Our mission is to provide a complete theatre experience with an emphasis on classical dance training and performance in Louisiana, as a creative outlet for Louisiana choreographers, composers and artists, and as a means of building the audience for dance in our region. We believe that arts are an intricate part of who we are as a community. Participating in the arts, as a performer, contributor or audience member directly affects our local economy contributing to the sustainability of our beautiful culture. We are blessed to contribute to our community," said Helms.
The Lake Charles Civic Ballet is supported by grants from the Louisiana State Arts Council through the Louisiana Division of the Arts, City of Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, and Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau as administered by the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana.