Ninety-eight dancers from Grayson, Kentucky, to Charleston, West Virginia, to Gallipolis, Ohio showed up to audition for this ground-breaking event, and 52 were selected. We were on our way to a premiere concert.
Mother Nature had other plans. A massive winter storm closed roads on the day of our show, and for the safety of our dancers and audience, the decision was made to postpone until the next day. Many were disappointed, many were upset, many were thankful, but when the curtain went up the next day, all were elated, supportive and proud of what had been accomplished for our first endeavor.
That first year defined us: through hard work, dedication and difficult decisions, the Ashland Youth Ballet would stand firm in its commitment “to engender the art of dance and dance education in the Tri-State region.”
As director, I embrace this mission and vision. As director, it is my job to remind dancers, parents, and audiences of the importance of the art of dance and the arts in general. Our history, our cultural treasures, and our very lives are chronicled through dance and the arts. The arts fill our lives with purpose and vibrancy, providing structure to daily life while teaching life skills necessary for becoming well-rounded, caring and responsible adults.
Dance allows expression of our deepest feelings and emotions in a safe, controlled environment. Dance teaches self-discipline, self-mastery, self-confidence and selflessness. Ashland Youth Ballet alumni have achieved incredible successes in and out of the dance world. I feel proud that dance enlivened these young dancers to encounter our world as dance professors, ballerinas, dance instructors, actors/actresses, physical therapists, broadcast journalists, physicians, teachers, business owners, and the list goes on.
In short, I’ve seen how dance enriches our lives, helps us engage the world around us, and makes the world a better place today than it was yesterday. For me, every dancer, every staff member and every volunteer has touched my life and the life of our community. That is what the Ashland Youth Ballet family does.
Our past, present and future dancers know that becoming an Ashland Youth Ballet member means that through our commitment to dance and the arts, that which lies beyond the self allows the cultural life of our community to flourish.
Come celebrate the dance with us this season!
—Maria Whaley, Director