WEST HARTFORD — The Ballet Theater Company is moving into its next phase with the establishment of a company of resident dancers.
The company, which is a non-profit organization, has provided opportunities for professional dancers and performers in Greater Hartford since its inception 22 years ago. However, this is the first time it has offered a residential program.
“As the founder of BTC, I watched and guided the company as it transformed from a small ensemble of dancers with no specific goals or plans, into a strong company that could take on anything,” said Tracy Dorman, executive director and leader of BTC. customer. “It is both exciting and somewhat terrifying to achieve this incredible feat after 22 years.”
The inaugural season of BTC’s Professional Dancers in Residence coincides with the company’s 23rd season of performances. An audition to select the dancers will take place from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on August 27 at 20 Jefferson Ave. of BTC.
Stephanie Dattellas, artistic director of BTC, said they hoped to attract as many professional dancers from Connecticut as possible for the program. Dancers must be out of high school and trained in a pre-professional or professional program.
The company has recently grown with the hiring of new officials and now with the creation of the resident dancer program.
“Each step we survived and grew,” Dorman said. “This new resident company of professional dancers demonstrates the incredible achievement achieved through the hard work and dedication of our staff and artists. It is truly an accomplishment of which the whole community can be proud.
The resident dancer program is one element of BTC’s three-pronged approach, which also includes community outreach and a school.
Its school, open from 3 years old to adults, serves about 125 families. Some of the students are in the pre-professional program and have the chance to dance in the main stage productions alongside the professional dancers.
Dattellas said professional dancers should not only be good classical and neoclassical ballet dancers, but also be able to be mentors for these students.
“If you’re a budding dancer, this is the place for you — on all levels,” she said.
Staff said the resident dancer program will also increase the level of professionalism at BTC, bring more performance to the community and help cultivate cohesive work for local professionals.
Dattellas will hire and provide jobs for 10 professional dancers. Dancers will be offered a 32-34 week contract with a bi-weekly stipend and shoe allowance.
Selected dancers will participate in two feature length classical ballet repertoire on the main stage with the option of performing solo or leading roles. They will also dance in two neoclassical performances at a black box theater and several smaller performances at local festivals and events.
“As a small, growing company, BTC is setting a new standard of excellence in a field where free labor is widely expected, especially from young professionals,” the company said in a press release. “BTC is proud to take a step forward to allow local dancers to thrive while supporting themselves.”
Dattellas said it was the only program offering biweekly stipends, with other programs offering performance stipends instead.
The new professional company will be led by Dattellas, alongside artistic advisors Maria Terezia Balogh and Paul Mejia. Balogh and Mejia will give weekly company lessons, coach and rehear the dancers, as well as the repertoire staged.
Balogh was a principal dancer with the Fort Work Dallas Ballet and the Lyric Opera Ballet, later known as Chicago City Ballet. She danced in over 30 lead roles during her career under various choreographers including George Balanchine, Maria Tallchief, Paul Mejia and Jerome Robbins. Since then she has been a rehearsal coach, ballet mistress and master instructor for leading companies and schools across the country.
Mejia performed with the New York City Ballet, where he danced and created many principal roles in ballets by George Balanchine. Mejia has also co-directed the Chicago City Ballet with Maria Tallchief, conducted at the Fort Worth Dallas Ballet, and is currently artistic advisor to the Metropolitan Classical Ballet.
“As Artistic Director of BTC, learning and working with such established and talented members of the dance community is an incredible privilege,” said Dattellas. “I look forward to seeing how these dancers will flourish under the tutelage of Maria and Paul and, as a result, see the company propel forward.”