Ashland Youth Ballet
To Engender the Art of Dance and Dance Education
The Ashland Youth Ballet’s mission statement is and has always been to engender the art of dance and dance education in the Tri-State region. We have done that by sending nearly two dozen of our alumni on to careers in professional dance, including performing with the Rockettes, “Wicked” and on Broadway. The AYB is a non-profit civic organization that serves the Tri-State by maintaining and preserving the technical and artistic elements of dance training and performance. We are the resident company of the historic Paramount Arts Center, our next-door neighbor in the Ashland Arts District.
IN THE HEART OF ASHLAND, KY’S DOWNTOWN ARTS DISTRICT
Ashland Youth Ballet | (606) 324-5434
336 13th St, Ashland, KY 41101 | MAP / DRIVING DIRECTIONS
Ashland Youth Ballet
336 13th St, Ashland, KY 41101
MAP / DRIVING DIRECTIONS
From the Director
In 1989, a small group of arts advocates met to discuss the future of the cultural arts in Ashland and its surrounding region. Little did I know what that lunch meeting at the Chimney Corner Tea Room would mean for the art of dance in the Tri-State Region, and for me personally.
With backing from the Foundation for the Tri-State Community, the Paramount Women’s Association, the Ashland Foundation, Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, Ashland Bank Clearinghouse, Ashland Car Dealers Association and a host of volunteers, the Ashland Youth Ballet was born. We produced our first show on Christmas of 1989, the Paramount Arts Center had a holiday dance concert, and our dancers have enjoyed master classes and enhanced learning opportunities throughout the process. “A Christmas Fantasy” was scheduled, which included excerpts from “The Nutcracker,” as well as a rendering of “The Night Before Christmas” entitled “T’was the Night” and “The Ice Maiden.”
Scroll below to experience the rich history of the Ashland Youth Ballet, beginning with the organization’s establishment in 1989.
ASHLAND YOUTH BALLET BEGINS
Ashland Youth Ballet founded “to engender the art of dance and performance to the Tri-State area through education and outreach for dancers, school students and the community at large.” Ninety-eight dancers registered to audition for the first holiday show in December, “A Christmas Fantasy.”
Residency with Martynuk-McAdams Dance was planned with the Russell Independent School District. Carter McAdams worked in the school system teaching video and movement; his wife, Nusha Martynuk, taught and choreographed “Moments Alone, Moments Together” for the Senior Company Members.
Photo: The first cast of “A Christmas Fantasy.” Picture is from “The Nutcracker,” Act II.
WALTZ OF THE FLOWERS
Photo: First group dance of the “Waltz of the Flowers.”
FIRST COMMISSIONED WORK
“Dancing Through Time,” a lecture demonstration, was set on the Senior Company of the AYB by freelance choreographer Larry Jones. The performance highlights included “Pas de Quatre” and Haydn, Symphony No. 88. The Senior and Junior Company worked with Zivili to learn traditional Bosnian and Serbian folk dances. Senior company dancers also worked with American Dance Ensemble Funding provided by the Kentucky Arts Council, Foundation for the Tri-State Community, the Ashland Oil Foundation and Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital.
Photo: The first cast of “Pas de Quatre,” the AYB’s first commissioned work.
Ron Coulton of the Augusta Ballet and Cynthia Bronner of the University of Louisville Dance Theater evaluated the AYB’s “The Nutcracker” for acceptance to the Southeast Regional Dance Association. “Graduation Ball” was presented as a spring concert.
REGIONAL DANCE FESTIVAL
Members of the AYB represented Ashland at Southeast Regional Dance Association Festival in Greenville, South Carolina. The company performed “The Nutcracker” on Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8.
“Les Danses du Printemps” was presented on Sunday, April 20 featuring “Green Eggs and Ham” with the Junior Company; Senior Company dancers performed “Melic,” “Ashed Sketches,” “Caravan on Land” and excerpts from “Giselle.” Partnership with Lexington Ballet presented “Peter and the Wolf” and Act II of “Swan Lake.” Junior and Senior Company members performed “Heritage,” a collection of Jesse Stuart stories.
Photos: Below – Company members pose for a group photo in 1997. Bottom-left – Post performance smiles of relief from Maria Whaley, director, and Amanda Dunlap, dancer, after “The Nutcracker” in 1997. Bottom-right – Buses line up to experience a 1997 performance.
COLLECTION OF DANCES
Area schools joined with the AYB to perform “Circles,” a collection of dances based on multicultural themes — the circle binds us together in one human family. For its 10th anniversary, the AYB performed “Dances Revisited,” featuring many of its first commissioned works. Senior Company members traveled to Houston, Texas to represent the company at the Regional Dance America Festival.
Photo: The 1998-99 cast of “The Nutcracker.”
RIVER AND RAILS FESTIVAL
The Boyd County Arts Council sponsored the “River and Rails Festival.” The AYB performed “River n’ Rails,” which celebrated the shaping of our Tri-State culture by the work and life on the river and on the railroad. The AYB danced for the groundbreaking of the Paramount Arts Center stage addition.
The Paramount stage was closed for the construction of the stage house, orchestra pit, loading dock, dressing rooms, rehearsal hall and storage space. The AYB performed in area schools throughout the season.
THE GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER
The Paramount Arts Center and the AYB co-sponsored the Moscow Ballet’s “The Great Russian Nutcracker” to celebrate the completion of the capital improvements. Two sold-out performances began a tradition of this collaboration which has continued every two to three years since.
Meehan Steel and Great Lakes Minerals assisted in constructing the AYB 20-foot growing tree.
AYB alumnus Nathan Andary brought his professional company to Ashland in collaboration with the AYB.
THE WIZARD OF OZ
Junior Company members danced with theater touring company Wizard of Oz Company, LLC, to present “The Wizard of Oz.”
AYB moved to new studios at 13th Street and Carter Avenue behind the Paramount Arts Center, at the “gateway” of the Ashland Arts District. “Good Grief, It’s Christmas” was added to the AYB repertoire as a holiday show. The performance was accompanied by Three-0 with musical arrangements by Ritch Collins.
AYB performed “The Funkikrakr,” a hip-hop ballet, to an adapted musical score by Ritch Collins.
AYB celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014. AYB alumnus Nathan Andary returned with students from the Ohio University Department of Dance Senior Concert Tour. The OU students choreographed for the Senior and Junior group of dancers. In 2016, members of the AYB performed with the Paramount Players in “Peter Pan.”
The Paramount Arts Center and the AYB co-sponsored Moscow Ballet in “The Great Russian Nutcracker.” “Peter and the Wolf” was presented by the company, accompanied by the Appalachian Regional Orchestra under the direction of Bob Turizziani and narrated by Grant Cooper.