Tahoe Youth Ballet aims high at Cal-Neva performances | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe Youth Ballet aims high at Cal-Neva performances

Sierra BarterTahoe Youth Ballet's Lauren Toole, left, coaches Keegan Harrig, Sierra Walsh and Camille Joubert as they rehearse Opus 25.

Tutus and pointe shoes are not the sole costume for ballet.

The Tahoe Youth Ballet’s graceful moves are made, in part, by dancers clad in sweaters and Converse sneakers.

The Frank Sinatra showroom on March 11-12 at the Cal Neva Resort provides the backdrop for a glittering array of professional dancers from the ballet world and dedicated Lake Tahoe Basin students.

In its third season, the company will present myriad new works choreographed by acclaimed choreographers to music ranging from Claude Debussy to the 21st century Icelandic rock band Sigur Ros and famed composer Phillip Glass. The mood will move from ethereal to edgy.

TYB’s artistic director, Christin Hanna, dreams of dancing started on the west shore of the lake. Her studies took her to Reno and her talents lead to prestigious dance companies across the country including the celebrated New Chamber Ballet of New York City. Upon her retirement, she returned to the Tahoe City.

The TYB was founded in 2009. Currently, seven girls, ages 13-17 years, aim high as they commit themselves to hours of practice each week.

Tahoe City’s Michelle Cahill is one of the hardworking teens.

A dancer for 13 of her 17 years, she appreciates the lessons gained at the dance company. As college beckons, her dancing will move to the wings; however she acknowledges the TYB work ethics will propel her future.

“How much you put in is what you get out if it,” she said.

Hanna echoes the sentiment in her method of teaching. Gone is the stereotypical ballet mistress with a big stick and booming commands.

“Strive for something better,” is the main encouragement for the profession that is unlike many others, she said.

Goals set by ballet dancers take years of build up. Meeting them throughout the process becomes addictive.

The dancers are given contracts after passing an audition. This establishes a professional atmosphere as does the chance to work with choreographers who routinely come to Tahoe City to create new performance pieces.

One such dancer is Lauren Toole. A member of New York’s New Chamber Ballet, she has traveled the world and danced to the works of ballet greats such as Peter Martins and George Balanchine. During the spring presentation she will dance with the troupe to the piece she has choreographed to the piano suite Opus 25 to the 20th century music of Arnold Schoenberg.

The opportunity to work with professionals is a chance to have the dancers’ individual talents highlighted.

For Michelle Cahill her involvement allows her to lose herself whenever the music begins.

“I can forget the rest of the day and the whole world disappears,” she said.

Audience members beginning tonight can experience the same.

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