Tag Archives: Coppelia

Ballerina over the moon with selection | Illawarra Mercury


Dapto’s Charlee Corrie is headed for New York City

By LOUISE TURK

Jan. 6, 2015, 4:43 p.m.

Charlee Corrie is a finalist in the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Charlee Corrie is a finalist in the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

The world is a stage for Dapto ballet dancer Charlee Corrie who has been selected as a finalist in the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix ballet competition.

The nine-year-old is among a shortlist of international finalists who will compete in the annual event, which is held in April over six days at multiple venues around New York City.

The Youth America Grand Prix is the world’s largest student ballet scholarship competition and is regarded by many as a stepping stone to a professional dance career for young people aged nine to 19.

Charlee will dance in workshops and in staged performances with other finalists, under the watchful eyes of judges and scouts from the world’s best ballet schools.

To be selected for the New York finals, Charlee submitted a DVD of her performance of the doll variation from the classical ballet Coppelia and a contemporary piece titled The Ballet Dancer.

Charlee is trained by her mother Vanessa Corrie, principal of the Vanessa Lee Dance Academy at Dapto, and dance teacher Chantelle Watts.

Ms Corrie choreographed the contemporary piece; and Ms Corrie and Ms Watts instructed Charlee as she learnt the classical variation.

The DVD audition took place in November and the Corries were notified of Charlee’s success by email on December 21.

‘‘I was shocked and over the moon with the news,’’ said Ms Corrie, who will accompany her daughter to New York.

Charlee’s father Brad Corrie and her younger sister Ruby, 6, will also make the journey to cheer on the budding ballerina.

‘‘We are all going over to support Charlee in this fantastic opportunity,’’ Ms Corrie said.

‘‘It will broaden her experience to participate in classes with kids from around the world and the performance experience will be amazing.

‘‘She will be dancing with the cream of the crop.’’

Charlee will compete in the 9-11 years age division of the competition which culminates in a gala night performance at the Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theatre.

Ms Corrie said she noticed her daughter’s strong dance potential around the age of seven.

‘‘She has the physical facilities – good flexibility and turnout – and she is also clever at picking up choreography and retaining it,’’ Ms Corrie said.

‘‘She is also very responsive in class and picks up the corrections easily.’’

Charlee successfully auditioned for a position in the Australian Ballet School’s Interstate Training Program in 2014. She will start attending workshops and personal visits with the esteemed Melbourne-based school this year.

Meanwhile, before Charlee starts polishing her New York routines, she is rehearsing this week with other Vanessa Lee Dance Academy students in the lead-up to the Showcase National Dance Championships, to be held at Jupiter’s Casino on the Gold Coast from January 12 to 19.

The dance school is competing in 20 troupe dances at the event which attracts competitors from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

Charlee will perform in 16 routines during the week.

via Ballerina over the moon with selection | Illawarra Mercury.

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Patricia McBride-Still Living the Dancer’s Dream (Protege of George Balanchine)


Patricia McBride lived a dancer’s dream: Her mentor was George Balanchine

2   Patricia McBride and George Balanchine

Patricia McBride rehearsing with choreographer George Balanchine.

This was normal for McBride, then the New York City Ballet’s principal dancer (now the associate artistic director at the Charlotte Ballet), but working with Balanchine would have been a dream come true for aspiring ballerinas around the world.

He is known as an artistic genius in the ballet world. A gifted choreographer responsible for changing the face of dance and famous for the New York City Ballet’s ” Coppélia” and “The Nutcracker.” And this man personally invited McBride to join his company when she was just 16 years old.

Balanchine and McBride would work alone in a studio, not speaking much. Balanchine would cue the music and dance in front of McBride. A pianist himself, musicality was of the utmost importance to Balanchine. He wanted the dances to flow naturally, so he let the music do the speaking. McBride followed along behind him, learning the steps. Forty-five minutes later, McBride would have a new solo in her repertoire.

“He worked so quickly and he didn’t have to experiment with you. He knew exactly what you could do,” McBride said in a phone interview. “Once something was made to you, you had to remember it forever. You were the guardian of the choreography.”

Balanchine trained McBride for a 30-year career with the New York City Ballet. She danced over 100 ballets in that time, including 30 choreographed just for her. When she performed her final ballet in 1989, McBride was showered with 13,000 roses and a standing ovation.

But McBride did not leave dance behind. She went on to teach at Indiana University and then took over the Charlotte Ballet in North Carolina with her husband and dance partner, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux in 1998. She’s now 72 and still teaches eight ballet classes at a time, on top of running rehearsals for performances like The Nutcracker.

This lifelong dedication to dance has been noticed by the outside world, too.

Earlier this month, McBride walked down a red carpet in Washington, D.C., to be honored for her commitment to the performing arts. She mingled with Tom Hanks and Sting, had dinner with John Kerry and met the Obamas. She was given a rainbow-colored Kennedy Center Honors ribbon and listened to actress Christine Baranski praise her accomplishments.

It was a celebratory weekend all about honoring the ballerina (among other honorees), but McBride was quick to thank others in our interview. Especially Balanchine, her mentor.

Theirs was an intimate setting to work in, but Balanchine was more than a teacher to McBride. She looked up to him as a role model and desperately wanted to please him. McBride‘s own father left her family when she was just 3 years old, so Balanchine stepped in to fill that role.

“I grew up without a father so he was everything to me — the man I most admired and just the most wonderful role model anyone could have,” McBride said.

And their relationship was not lost on the outside world.

“A true muse for George Balanchine, he created many ballets especially for her,” said Larry Attaway, executive director of ballet at Butler University. “She was one of the most remarkable ballerinas of the 20th century.”

McBride still remembers leaping for joy when Balanchine invited her to join the New York City Ballet Company all those years ago — and did not hesitate to give up a normal teenage life for one of endless rehearsals, travel and intense dedication.

Balanchine took McBride under his wing and trained her to dance his ballets, many of which are still performed around the world today. She traveled to Tokyo, Italy, Germany, London, Paris, South America and Russia to dance, including five performances for U.S. presidents. Leading roles in her repertoire include the Sugarplum Fairy in “The Nutcracker” and Colombine in ”Harlequinade.”

“I cherish the ballets made for myself by Mr. Balanchine,” McBride said in a phone interview. “He never lost his temper. He was quiet, humble, the genius of the 20th century. He changed the face of what dance is today.”

Balanchine was her teacher, her mentor and inspiration during her long-lived dancing career. He pushed her and drove her to perform at the highest possible level, but he was also kind and patient — a notable trait in the perfectionism-driven world of ballet.

“In the beginning, he taught you how to hold your fingers, use your head, hold your shoulders, how you glissade, bourre — the exact way he wanted you to do the steps,” McBride said. “It was relearning the whole Balanchine technique.”

He was not a man of many words, but when he did offer praise, it stayed with McBride for years to come.

“After performances he would say, ‘Good, good.’ He never really gave a harsh word. I don’t ever remember him saying, ‘That was awful,’ ever. He didn’t praise that much, but when he did, it was wonderful. He would say, ‘I loved how you used your eyes, you were mysterious.’ It would make you feel like a million dollars.”

Balanchine passed away in 1983, but McBride carries on his legacy by teaching her students his ballets with patience and kindness. She gives her students at the Charlotte Ballet Academy praise and talks highly of her “beautiful dancers.” She believes in nurturing her students and making them feel secure in themselves.

“Mr. Balanchine wanted me to be myself. He didn’t want me to look like anyone else,” McBride said. “I love teaching our company dancers the Balanchine ballets. I try to give them what was passed down to me and what I learned from him. They dance it so beautifully. It also keeps me close to Mr. Balanchine. He’s with me every single day.”