Magazine article Pointe

Pride of the State

Magazine article Pointe

Pride of the State

Article excerpt

After a long history in Virginia, Richmond Ballet celebrates a milestone.

What started in the 1950s as a performance group for local students became Virginia's official state ballet company in 1990. Today Richmond Ballet boasts world-class dancejrs, a 53,000-square-foot rehearsal facility and an artistic director who treats staff and dancers like family.

When the curtain went up on John Butler's Carmine Buraria in October, the company started a season-long celebration of Richmond Ballet's 20th anniversary as a professional company.

"One of the most amazing things and the reason people stay so long is that the dancers are such a close group of people," says Tiffanie Smith, now in her eighth season with Richmond Ballet. "You are capable of being a better artist because it's such a supportive environment. That's true of the whole organization. There's not a person in that building that we don't all know."

Dancer Pedro Szalay says people stop him on the street! because they recognize him from the studio or stage] In Richmond, a city with a population of approximately 200,000, dancers feel like celebrities, which boostfe morale, he says.

Support comes from all directions, especially from Artistic Director Stoner Winslett, according to Smith and Szalay. Winslett has created a company of 16 full-time dancers and eight apprentices with more than 30 commissioned ballets in its repertoire.

Winslett chooses performers who are versatile and can tiiansition easily between styles because the company constantly presents new works as well as the classics. …

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