Out & About: City Center Ballet returns to Lebanon Opera House

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    Bonnie Blake performs as a stepsister with guest artist Stephen Everson as the court jester during a rehearsal of City Center Ballet's production of "Cinderella." (Photograph courtesy of City Center Ballet) Courtesy photograph—

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/4/2022 10:44:30 PM
Modified: 5/6/2022 1:41:00 PM

LEBANON — For the first time in nearly two years, City Center Ballet will take the stage at the Lebanon Opera House.

Performances of Cinderella will take place at 1 and 7 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets cost $15 to $38 and can be purchased by calling 603-448-0400 or at CityCenterBallet.org. The runtime is 75 minutes and includes an intermission.

“These young people went from the studio to online training and returned to the studio. They’ve been patiently waiting to be back, doing their work,” ballet mistress and City Center Ballet board member Linda Copp said. “They never stopped their training.”

Among them is Bonnie Blake, a 17-year-old Weathersfield resident who has been dancing since she was 4 years old. Blake will perform as one of Cinderella’s stepsisters in the 35-person production.

“We’re a pretty playful part of the ballet. We’re Cinderella’s sisters and we’re always kind of nagging her throughout it,” Blake said. The ballet is serious, but Blake’s character is not. “We’re a comedic relief part of it.”

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Blake and other dancers took classes on Zoom. While it was a way to keep up with training, it wasn’t easy. “Ballet is such a personal thing, and for you to be able to grow in it as a dancer … you really need to be there in person,” she said.

Building a community was harder online. While in-person classes resumed around a year ago, the company was still unable to perform in front of an audience. Blake is excited “to share this really personal experience with people that we’ve really had to keep to ourselves these past few years.”

The performance includes high school students, young adults and professional dancers. There are also roles for children who are in middle and elementary school. The youngest performers are 6 years old.

“They had their first experience on the stage in rehearsal last month and they learned a lot,” Cobb said. “It was quite eye-opening to them and they’re pretty excited. They’re very prepared.”

In addition to attending classes four or five days a week, Blake has also been attending two-hour rehearsals four or five days a week in preparation for Cinderella.

“You spend a lot of time on the front end just learning choreography,” Blake said. The company has also spent time “relearning how to play off of each other and just tell a story for people because that’s ultimately the goal.”

Blake is relishing working with a group on a production again, especially given how supportive everyone has been of each other throughout the process.

“That’s something you kind of forget about when you don’t do a performance for a while,” she said. “It’s a totally different thing when you’re working as a team.”

Correction: Linda Copp is the ballet mistress and  member of the board at City Center Ballet. Stephen Everson is the dancer pictured in a photograph with Bonnie Blake. Everson’s last name and Cobb's name and title were incorrect in an earlier version of this column.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

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