Sunday, November 26, 2017

Interview with Artistic Director: Vladimir Bykov

To learn more about the Central Florida Ballet's upcoming Nutcracker production,  we spoke with CFB's Artistic Director, Vladimir Bykov. Enjoy our chat below!

Artistic Director of the Central Florida Ballet: Vladimir Bykov
Photo by: Michael Cairns


How many dancers participate in CFB's Nutcracker production and what is the rehearsal schedule?
We have 75 dancers, 4 instructors, and 27 pieces in the production. Rehearsals are held each weekend from October through December.

What do you look for when casting dancers?
Technical ability,  performance skills, and ability to learn choreography fast.

Vladimir Bykov rehearsing dancers at Central Florida Ballet Studios
Photo by Lisbet Photography

What can we expect new this year? 
For the Arabian dance, we will have 6 aerialists. It's never been done before so that will be very exciting for the audience. Also we are debuting a new Act II set which replaces the original first used in 2001.

 
Video Preview of CFB's The Nutcracker

You've played the role of Drosselmeyer for many years, do you ever get nervous before going onstage?
I don't get nervous myself but sometimes do for our dancers.

Have you ever had any unexpected moments onstage?
Of course. It is a live performance and there is always something going wrong. Luckily, the majority of the audience members don't notice it.

 Vladimir Bykov as Drosselmeyer in CFB's The Nutcracker during a pyrotechnics explosion. Photo by: Virginia Trudeau & Deedee Sherman

 What do you find most rewarding in producing The Nutcracker?
Knowing that someone out there in the audience enjoyed it very much.

For information and to purchase tickets to The Nutcracker, please visit www.centralfloridaballet.com.


The Central Florida Ballet brings you an unparalleled Nutcracker performance - complete with uniquely composed sets, aerial acrobatics, pyrotechnics and an exceptional ballet company you won’t soon forget. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Cassandra LeRette Shares her Favorite Nutcracker Memories

 Professional Dancer of the Central Florida Ballet:
 Cassandra LeRette

1. How many years have you performed in CFB's Nutcracker and which roles have you performed in?
I have performed in CFB's Nutcracker for 13 years. Over the years I've had the opportunity to perform many different roles, including; Mice, Lambs, Angels, Party Girls, Bon Bons, Jig, Soldiers, Party Teens, Snow, Spanish, Tulips, Party Parents, Maria, Shepherdess, and Butterfly!

2. Tell us some of your favorite Nutcracker memories:
Every year, the entire process, from the studio to the stage is just as exciting and rewarding as the last, no matter my age. I always get goosebumps when I hear the music in the studio and I still feel  that way when I'm in the wings at the theater. Some of my favorite memories are simply what I feel before I go onstage and what I feel after the performance, taking in the audience, the music, and just thinking about what we've accomplished altogether. Sounds cheesy but it's true!

 Cassandra rehearses at CFB Studios

3. What roles will you be performing this year and which do you enjoy the most?
This year I will be performing in Party Parents, Snow demi-solo, Shepherdess, and Butterfly!

The role I enjoy performing the most has to be Butterfly, hands down. This year will be my 4th time dancing it, and I still feel the same way I did when I was cast in it the first time. It is without a doubt the hardest role I've ever had to perform, and not just in The Nutcracker.

 Cassandra performs the role of Butterfly in CFB's The Nutcracker;
 Photo by Jose Garrido

Not only is the choreography challenging, but there are also moments that require suspension and elegance, taking up as much space on the stage as I can, using the wings to make it appear as if they are a part of me and not just the costume, all while showing strength and precision through those intense leap and turn sequences. The moments where the steps are smaller can be some of the hardest, simply because I have to channel my energy into my technique and softness through those steps and mask the fact that I can't feel my legs or can't seem to catch my breath. It's all to make it look effortless.

As I am about to make my last entrance, the same thought runs through my head every time, "I don't think I can finish this", and yet, every single time, I get that last rush of adrenaline to push me through. After it's over, and my heart rate has returned to normal and I'm able to breathe again, I feel so fulfilled and empowered. It was my dream role when I was younger, and it is still my dream role!

4. In addition to being a professional dancer, you currently work as a property manager for Darton U.S. Holdings and are going to school for Business, specializing in Real Estate and Property Management. Describe your typical week and how you manage to fit everything in your schedule.

My typical week includes working from 8:00 to 5:30 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I have evening college classes on Monday until 9:15 and I complete my other classes when I have time, as they are online/lecture based, but I usually try to knock those out in the beginning of the week. On Tuesday and Thursday, I either work or go to school in the morning, head to adult class from 12:00 to 1:00 and then head back to work until 6:00. I also strength train at the gym on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday or Sunday, but I switch that up with cycling on occasion. Saturday and Sunday are usually filled with dance and/or rehearsals during Nutcracker time! There are some days or weeks when it seems like too much, but I force myself to get into simple routines that help me manage my time the best that I can, knowing it will all pay off!

  
Cassandra strength training at the gym

5. Do you have any pre-show rituals? How will you prepare to dance the days of the performances?
I don't really have any pre-show "rituals" per say, but I do have to get into a particular mindset, so I'll put my headphones on while I'm warming up or doing my makeup and listen to something to put my mind at ease, sometimes it's classical, sometimes it's some Sinatra/oldies, and sometimes it's some Led Zeppelin, Queen, Supertramp, good, classic rock. It all depends on my mood.

 Cassandra gets ready backstage before a performance

As we get closer to the performance, I make sure my body is in the best shape it can be, I've rehearsed what I need to in order to feel comfortable on stage, simply because it's 10x harder than in the studio. I always make sure I'm completely warm before I dance and I always make sure to stretch after class and take any precautions needed to either prevent injuries or make them feel better (if I have any at the time).

6. Have you ever had something unexpected happen onstage? Describe what happened...
Luckily I haven't had anything majorly unexpected happen onstage, and I hope I don't in the future either (haha) Just little things here and there, so I'm always expecting the unexpected and thinking about what I would need to do if (blank) happened.

Cassandra performs the role of Shepherdess in CFB's The Nutcracker; 
Photo by Rodrigo Athie Photography

7. What is your favorite Nutcracker memory?
I don't have a favorite memory in particular that I can think of right now, but after taking the bows, and the curtain closes, everyone kind of turns around and looks at each other before realizing what we just accomplished. Then there's hugging, (sometimes crying), "good job" and "congratulations" being spoken left and right, there are pictures taken, and flowers are exchanged, it's one of the neatest feelings to do what you love and what you've worked so hard for, and share that with hundreds of other people, whether they were dancing, or made your costume, or even hooked you during your quick change. It's quite the process, but when it all comes together, it's pretty magical to say the least.

 Cassandra backstage during The Nutcracker

We invite you to join us this holiday season, as the Central Florida Ballet brings you an unparalleled Nutcracker performance - complete with uniquely composed sets, aerial acrobatics, pyrotechnics and an exceptional ballet company you won’t soon forget. 


Tickets are on sale now at www.centralfloridaballet.com

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Nutcracker Guest Artist Series: Davi Chagas talks about preparing for The Nutcracker

The Central Florida Ballet is pleased to announce Davi Chagas will be featured as a guest artist in CFB's The Nutcracker this December. Davi currently lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where he is a soloist for the Cia Jovem Balletarrj. 

We spoke with Davi about his upcoming feature, enjoy our chat below!

Davi Chagas as the Cavalier in Central Florida Ballet's The Nutcracker.
Photo by Marshall Ellis Photography

 1. What role(s) will you be performing in The Nutcracker?
I will be playing the role of the Prince in the first act and Shepherd (also known as Mirlitons) in the second act! I look forward to participating once again in this beautiful production of the Central Florida Ballet! It's going to be a lot of fun!

2. You've performed for several years in CFB's Nutcracker. Which roles did you perform and enjoy the most?
I have performed the Snow King role in the first act as well as Spanish Lead and also Cavalier in the second act. A funny memory I have is at the end of the Snow scene, the stage hands released A LOT of fake snow on the last performance day hahaha it was a lot of fun.

Davi Chagas performs the Snow King role in Central Florida Ballet's The Nutcracker.

 3. Describe your typical weekly dance training schedule in Brazil:
Well before any physical activity, I make sure to do enough stretching. Each weekday I have ballet class. After class, I have rehearsals and then more rehearsals! It is very tiring!

4. How is the life different in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil versus Orlando, Florida? 
In Brazil we have a lot of culture, we have beaches, historical theaters,  and we have Carnival Brazil. It's a very lively country. Orlando is really cool, the city has the parks and wonderful restaurants! The difference is that the USA is a developed country for those who live in America, the chances of work are greater! Also Americans treat Brazilians well, that's cool!


Davi Chagas in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

5. You've won medals and honors in numerous international ballet competitions, what are some of your top awards?
Prix ​​de Lausanne in Switzerland was an amazing experience! I won the silver medal at the New York Youth American Grand Prix and received the bronze medal at the World Ballet Competition in Orlando, Florida.

6. Which do you enjoy more -- competing or dancing in a performance?
I prefer performance. I can express myself more, I feel free!

Davi Chagas performs a contemporary solo at the World Ballet Competition. 
Photo by Virginia Trudeau

6. Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Every dancer has a ritual before dancing hahaha, I prefer to listen to music, I eat something too. Then I get dressed and do a quick rehearsal before the performance!

7. What is your favorite Nutcracker memory?

I really enjoyed my first time as a guest artist for Central Florida Ballet's The Nutcracker! I made many friends and had a lot of fun!

Want to see Davi perform in The Nutcracker? Tickets are on sale now at www.centralfloridaballet.com



Thursday, October 19, 2017

Central Florida Ballet Announces 2017 Nutcracker Season

Central Florida Ballet Executive Director Vasile Petrutiu announced today that CFB will present their nationally-renowned Nutcracker performance this holiday season at the Orange County Convention Center’s Linda Chapin Theater on December 16 and 17, 2017.

Central Florida Ballet expertly merges a classic fairytale with stimulating pyrotechnics and aerial acrobatics offering attendees an unparalleled Nutcracker experience. The performance has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. It was also named “one of five outstanding productions in the entire nation” by CNN Headline News.

Director Vasile Petrutiu is proud to continue providing residents and guests of Central Florida with this exceptional holiday performance for the 17th year. “I am enthusiastic about the audience viewing our newly-designed sets that were custom built in Russia," said Petrutiu. "They are beautifully crafted, measure 50 feet in height by 25 feet in width and were hand painted by expert artists in traditional classical ballet style."

There are three Nutcracker performances scheduled this year: December 16 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm and December 17 at 2:00pm. The two-hour event includes a fifteen minute intermission and tickets can be purchased at centralfloridaballet.com. Special offers are being extended to orange, seminole, osceola and lake county teachers and local civic organizations. Groups are encouraged to contact CFB office manager, Kailey Klopfenstein for more information.

Tickets are available for purchase at http://www.centralfloridaballet.com or by calling 407.849.9948 ext 10.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Madison Spack talks college auditions and her decision to attend Butler University

During the past few months, Academy Student, Madison Spack (age 18) has traveled across the United States to audition for prestigious college programs. She was awarded scholarships to the Boston Conservatory and Butler University.

In our interview below, Madison shares her audition experiences and why she chose to attend Butler University this Fall.

 Academy Student: Madison Spack

When did you start classes at the Ballet Academy of Central Florida and what do you want your college major to be? 
I started dancing at Central Florida Ballet when I was two and a half years and came back when I was eleven. Now leaving CFB, I will be majoring in dance performance and a possible second major in kinesiology.

What colleges have you applied to?
I applied/auditioned for eight schools. Florida State University, University of South Florida, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Butler University, New York University, SUNY Purchase, Boston Conservatory and Juilliard.

What is your dream college to be accepted to (or have already been accepted to)?
My original dream school for dance was Juilliard, because who wouldn't want to dance at Juilliard, as well as NYU. But I couldn't be happier with my decision to attend Butler.

Pictured: Academy Student, Madison Spack (right),
during partnering class at the Washington Ballet's Summer Intensive.
 
Why did you choose Butler University?
I chose Butler University because they have an amazing dance department and the academics of the University. Dancing at Butler will allow me to further my training and gain new perspectives to improve my technique and have many performance opportunities. At the same time I will also be able to get a college education with another major in kinesiology so I can go to physical therapy school in the future.

How have you auditioned for the colleges? Video submissions or in-person auditions?
I attended live auditions for all eight schools. Some of the schools travel and hold auditions all around so it is more convenient but for most of them I went to the schools themselves to audition. This also helps you get a good idea of the possible atmosphere you would be dancing in.

 Academy Student, Madison Spack, strikes a stunning arabesque 
in front of the David Koch Theater in New York City.

Is each school's application process similar?
Each school's application process was pretty similar. First I would do the application to be accepted into the school academically, then I would fill out the dance application. As for the auditions, you start with a typical ballet class and then depending on the school you might have a modern or contemporary class and then perform a solo of our choice for them.

What would be your best tip for someone applying to college for dance?
 My advice for college auditions is to be smart. Simple enough, but really focus on dancing your best and being clean in everything you do instead of trying to impress them but end up with sloppy technique. Another thing to remember is that they aren't just auditioning you, you are auditioning the school to see if it would be a right fit for you and if you could really see yourself dancing and improving there.

 Academy Student, Madison Spack, in various roles
of Central Florida Ballet's The Nutcracker

What have you learned from Central Florida Ballet that has helped you in your auditions?
Training at Central Florida Ballet has taught me to pick up combinations quickly, which is really important in auditions. I have also learned to be both technical and artistic while dancing. The teachers here have really prepared me to be a strong and consistent dancer.

What has surprised you most about applying to colleges? And do you have a funny/interesting story to tell from your audition travels?
One of the most surprising things for me was seeing how small the dance world can be while being big at the same time. I would always recognize people at my auditions or had maybe danced with them in the past at a summer intensive. Even before the classes began everyone was so friendly and I made friends at all my auditions. One in particular, I met a girl while warming up for class and we stuck together for the rest of the day. When we got out of class apparently our moms had done the same thing and we didn't even know it! Complete coincidence.

Academy Student: Madison Spack

For more information about the Central Florida Ballet & Academy, please visit www.centralfloridaballet.com or call 407-849-9948. 

***New Students dance for free in August***
Book your spot by emailing mrivera@centralfloridaballet.com

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Jenna Latham: The Road to Butler University


Jenna Latham, age 17, is in the process of transitioning from Academy student to joining a college dance program this Fall. Read our interview below to learn about Jenna's experience auditioning for colleges across the country and her decision to attend Butler University!

Pictured: Academy Student, Jenna Latham  

When did you start classes at the Ballet Academy of Central Florida and what do you want your college major to be?
I officially became a student at BACF when I was a sophomore in high school, but I participated in the summer intensives prior to enrolling in the full program. I’m going to college to major in dance and hopefully minor in environmental studies.

What colleges have you applied to?
I applied to the University of Arizona, Butler University, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Boston Conservatory, Pointpark University, and Dominican University of California (Alonzo King LINES BFA program).

Pictured: Academy Student, Jenna Latham

 What is your dream college to be accepted to?
It’s hard for me to choose one school that I love the most. Each of them have different strengths, my top schools are Butler University and Dominican University. Butler has great classical ballet training, and Dominican is known for a more contemporary approach to ballet.

How have you auditioned for the colleges? Video submissions or in-person auditions?
For all my auditions I chose to do in-person auditions. I found that my best experiences and results came when I auditioned at the school.

 Pictured: Academy Student, Jenna Latham, warms up at the barre

Is each school's application process similar?
A lot of the schools use the common app which makes it really easy to apply for a bunch of schools at once. Within each university the dance programs require a completely separate application from the academic application. Most do not require videos, but a few do.

What would be your best tip for someone applying to college for dance?
Do your research. Finding the right college was difficult because I wanted to keep training vigorously while also learning new things. There are some seriously incredible programs out there that still provide the same training and performance opportunities as working companies, but finding them takes a lot of time on the internet.

Pictured: Academy Student, Jenna Latham

What have you learned from Central Florida Ballet that has helped you in your auditions?
CFB has helped me become a better dancer technically, but beyond that I have learned how to keep cool headed and light hearted in auditions. I learned that little mistakes aren’t deal breakers and that showing off your style and personality is what the judges really want to see.

What has surprised you most about applying to colleges? And do you have a funny/interesting story to tell from your audition travels?
Until this year the concept of dancing in college seemed pointless because I didn’t realize there were so many good programs out there. What surprised me most was how wonderful the class auditions were. My skepticism of college dance has completely fallen away after my experiences. So, there was one weekend where I had both my NYU and Boston audition within 24 hours of each other, and unfortunately, I left my ballet shoes in New York. I went into my Boston audition with as much confidence as a barefoot ballerina could. Fortunately the teachers were extremely kind and considerate of the situation. Right as I was losing hope for the rest of class my mom was able to discretely slip me a brand new pair of shoes before center began.

For more information about the Central Florida Ballet & Academy, please visit www.centralfloridaballet.com or call 407-849-9948. 

***New Students dance for free in August***
Book your spot by emailing mrivera@centralfloridaballet.com

 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Central Florida Ballet Awarded Highest Score of an Orange County Organization in the State of Florida's 2017-18 DCA Grant


March 9, 2017 - Orlando, FL, USA - The Central Florida Ballet recently scored very high on the State of Florida's Division of Cultural Affairs General Program Support grant for 2017-18 Season:

Placing 17th Overall (out of 492 applications) with a score of 95.833 and earning the highest score of an Orange County organization. 

Rankings for other top scoring organizations include: Orlando Repertory Theatre ranked #29, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra #31, Orlando Science Center #37, Orlando Ballet #42, The Winter Park Playhouse #58, and Orlando Museum of Art #65. A total of 492 applications were reviewed for the 2017-18 cycle. Funding for the grant is awaiting legislator approval.

Central Florida Ballet's The Nutcracker (Photo by Lisbet Photography)

The Central Florida Ballet (CFB) credits its tourist-drawing, high caliber dance programs for receiving the top score. Central Florida Ballet applied for their 2017-18 Season which includes the 2017 Nutcracker production, 2018 World Ballet Competition, 2017 Summer Intensive Dance Program, and outreach programs benefiting Title 1 Schools in the Orlando area. The Central Florida Ballet's venue for all public performances is the Linda Chapin Theater in the Orange County Convention Center. CFB is the only local arts organization to be performing in the theater.

A full list of the grant scores can be viewed at http://dos.florida-arts.org/grants/ranked-lists/2018.scp-ranked-list.cfm.

Next up for the Central Florida Ballet is the presentation of the 2017 World Ballet Competition with Daily Competition Rounds held June 19-23 and concluding with a star-studded Gala performance on June 24 at 7:30pm.

 The World Ballet Competition,
an event produced and presented by the Central Florida Ballet
(Photo by Virginia Trudeau)

For information on the Central Florida Ballet and its events, please visit www.centralfloridaballet.com / www.worldballetcompetition.com or call 407.849.9948.

About the Central Florida Ballet: Innovative ballet productions, educational programs, and international partnerships are the keystones of the Central Florida Ballet with glowing recognition from ABC News, CNN, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and the U.S. House of Representatives. The Central Florida Ballet is a not-for-profit organization.