Dancers from three different countries, all members of the New York Theatre Ballet, demonstrated the art of dance for Northeast Carolina Prep School students Wednesday morning in the school gymnasium. The trio, along with their fellow dancers, will perform at 7 p.m. tonight in Keihin Auditorium.
The children gasped as ballerina Amanda Treiber, from Florida, raised the tip of her foot to the level of her head.
“Dancing is difficult,” said Diana Byer, artistic director for NY Theatre Ballet. “It’s a certain type of strength. It’s a supple strength, so you have to be stretched out but be as tough as a football player.”
The audience remained rapt as Mayu Oguri, of Japan, did pirouettes, and Mitchell Kilby, of Australia, extended an arm full-length in front of his body and one of his legs behind his body and held that position.
Angel Lloyd, a fourth-grader, said her favorite parts were “twirling” and “when they stand on their tippy toes.” “Relaxed” is the word that comes to her mind when she thinks about watching dancers.
“You can express your feelings in dance,” said Kelly Lewis, a fourth-grader who took ballet for two years. Wednesday was the first time that Lewis and Lloyd had ever seen professional ballerinas.
“I think it’s fantastic that they get to see this group,” said Cindy Brittain, the school’s media coordinator. “I think the school has made a commitment to include the arts education. Some children are visual, some are musical, some are kinesthetic, and the arts appeal to those type of learning styles.”
If 10 children at the school decided to pursue an interest in dance after watching the professional ballerinas, it would make Wednesday’s visit worthwhile, said professional dancer and choreographer Dirk Lumbard, a Tarboro resident.
“I think it gives them an incredible background and knowledge of what discipline and hard work is behind it [dance.] They showed them what they have to do five hours a day,” he said. In his view, exposing the students to arts gives them “a grasp of the possibilities of the world.”
“These days with so many of the arts being cut from school systems throughout the United States, it’s important to grab it when you can,” Lumbard said. “It [dance] is a part of the education of a soul.”
Unlike television, which is one-dimensional, ballet performances are like an “emotional journey,” a story told in a different way than through words, he added.
Second and third-grade public school students will have the opportunity to see the ballerinas tell a story through dance at 10 a.m. Friday, in a performance of “Goose,” a collection of nursery rhymes.