No Spring Dances

No Spring Dances

Lily Moreschi

No Spring Dances

Mary Troise

But Rockbridge Ballet’s Seniors Facing ‘Odd Time’ With Grace

At the Rockbridge Ballet, May is traditionally a month of celebrations.

It marks the close of the academic year, and culminates with an end-of-the-season performance that doubles as a sendoff for graduating seniors. This spring’s festivities were meant to be especially auspicious, as the company’s school and studio are also turning 10. Instead, with both the ballet and the schools shuttered for the time being, the Ballet’s dancers are celebrating separately together.

Like others looking to maintain a sense of community during this time of self-isolation, the Rockbridge Ballet has turned to social media to stay in touch.

The company has shared a number of photos and videos online of past performances, and has encouraged parents, current dancers, and alumnae to contribute memories and photos of their own. It has created a YouTube channel where it has uploaded more than 60 dance-at-home ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and children’s dance videos. Assistant Director Kitty Dean Burke also records a regular story time segment, during which she reads a book for younger dancers, which is then followed up by and email with accompanying coloring and activity pages. The company also coordinates regular Zoom calls with its older dancers, and sends out dance scavenger hunts, articles, and choreography challenges.

Additionally, the Rockbridge Ballet, in coordination with the Hearts of Lexington campaign, has written the names of all of its dancers on paper hearts and displayed them in the studio window. It has also staged a drive-by parade past the home of a dancer who had an emergency appendectomy.

And while the scheduled May concert, “It’s a Party: a 10th Anniversary Celebration,” originally slated for four performances at the Lenfest Center for the Arts, has been canceled — and, with it, the opportunity for two graduating seniors to choreograph and perform farewell pieces for their families and friends — the company, its departing dancers, and its alumnae have much to be proud of, said a Ballet spokesman.

In 10 years, the Rockbridge Ballet has grown its initial roster of 85 students to 200, and, in 2014, it expanded its studio space from two dance rooms to three. It has served hundreds of dancers and thousands of audience members, and has seen its students accepted into summer programs at Nashville Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Richmond Ballet, the Bates young dancers program, and the Virginia Governor’s School. It has also sent its graduates on to college dance programs at Oberlin College, George Mason, Virginia Commonwealth Uni-versity, James Madison, and the Univer- sity of Utah, among other schools. Senior Mary Troise will begin studies this fall at the University of North Car- olina in Chapel Hill, and Lily Moreschi will attend St. Olaf College in Minnesota on a partial scholarship for dance.

“They are both outstanding young ladies who have been with our school since we opened,” said Rockbridge Ballet Artistic Director Jessica Pyatt Martin. “This is an odd time for them, missing out on their senior recital, prom and graduation, but, unsurprisingly, they are facing it with grace and positivity.” “Dance has taught me many life lessons, such as discipline,

“Dance has taught me many life lessons, such as discipline, respect, and teamwork,” said Moreschi. “It has given me a second family, a second home, and a support system I know I will be able to rely on for the rest of my life.”

“It’s been an opportunity for me to share my story with others,” added Troise. “I have learned that tomorrow is never guaranteed — so you should smile often, laugh loudly, and dance fully from your heart.”

The Rockbridge Ballet has started a fund to help safeguard its future as it weathers the pandemic crisis. Details can be found at rockbridgeballet.org/keep-us-on-our-toes.

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