The art of dance has a language of its own, and its language is that of movement.
From the classic construction of ballet to the precise, yet expressive movements of contemporary and modern dance, the body unleashed can speak to the soul of its audience with both eloquence and fervency.
And Ballet Taos, a newly founded dance school in the community, is eager to share its work with talented youths who strive to not only embrace that language, but achieve its fluency.
On Saturday (Oct. 21), the school will be hosting a benefit — and more — when its “Dancers Captured” premieres at the FaraHNHeight Fine Art Gallery, 311 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. From 6-10 p.m., the young artists will be showcased in both projection and live performances.
Megan Yackovich, founder and director of Ballet Taos, said, “To consider dance as a career takes both passion and dedication. Our students don’t consider dance as recreation; it’s a lifestyle. They come to our studio right from school – and work with us well into the evening – and do this every day.” It’s an important distinction for the community to understand, she believes.
That distinction will be crystal clear when selected film footage from the school’s original contemporary work, titled “Mechanical Nature: Movement VII,” is screened at 7 p.m.
First performed at the Taos Community Auditorium in May of this year, “This work is truly extraordinary in that it was choreographed as a collaborative effort with the students themselves,” Yackovich said. “It’s an illustration of their concerns about the environment, climate change, political upheaval, the rights of us all.”
C.J. Bernal, creative director of Ballet Taos, agreed. In arranging a recomposition of Antonio Vivaldi’s iconic “The Four Seasons,” he said, “We worked with our students who shared their emotions, and we created a ballet that is a voice of and for young people.” The result is a sophisticated production that is beautiful, profound and personal.
After the screening, a sneak peak of the school’s new repertoire will be performed and the artists will be available to “meet and greet” the audience.
The evening will also feature a silent auction of Jack Mitchell’s photography, which captures the students at school, in rehearsal and on the stage, all in a catalog of gorgeous imagery. “The photographs are candid and so are very authentic in capturing our dancers in their element,” Yackovich said, noting the photographer will also be hosting a question-and-answer session. For a preview of his work, visit ballettaos.com.
Yackovich and Bernal met several years ago at a collaboration of artists from Northern New Mexico, but it was not until 2016 that the dance school was established. Together, they brought decades of training and experience to the table: she as a professional classical ballet dancer, most recently as a teacher, and he as a contemporary and modern dancer.
Under that combined tutelage, Ballet Taos offers programs in both classical and contemporary disciplines, from beginning levels for ages from 4 to 6 years to adult and professional levels.
“Our programs are intensive and focused,” said Yackovich. “But if our students truly want to pursue a dancing career, then that’s what we need to do to provide them with the skills they need to navigate the professional world.” Indeed, the mission of Ballet Taos is to ensure artists are coached to be “technically precise, rhythmically sound, artful and spirited in movement.”
Bernal said, “It’s an experience of learning about yourself, what your body is capable of and where your ambition can take you. By exploring all aspects and with our individualized attention to each student, we can make them well-rounded and ready to tackle the professional world.”
Ballet Taos also fosters the creativity of its students, encouraging them to participate in the school’s spotlight on choreography – “something not typically addressed in classical training,” noted Yackovich – and elements of design staging. “An understanding of production intricacies only deepens their professionalism,” another measure of which Ballet Taos is particularly proud.
In its one-year existence, the nonprofit school has carved itself a niche in Taos and gained wide support from its fellow art community. “C.J. and I are grateful for every venue giving us a stage, for every affiliate supporting our mission and for every donor who makes it possible for us to grant scholarships,” Yackovich said. “We’ve also had artists who assisted with things such as projection and set designs, of which we deeply appreciate.”
After Saturday evening’s event, Ballet Taos will set its sights on outreach to the young people here, making them aware of their option to pursue a career in dance. Bernal noted, “When you grow up in a rural area, but one so rich in art and culture, whether you realize it or not, the arts are a part of you. We want to make sure the children here can recognize and acknowledge that part of themselves.”
Ballet Taos will host another of its series of master classes, this time with internationally renowned principal dancer Jock Soto, who is retired from the New York City Ballet and remains a major name in the world of dance.
The benefit is appropriate for all ages and admission is free. However, if attendees wish to partake in the donated food and beverages, they may purchase a wristband for $20. Proceeds of that purchase will support scholarships for worthy students, the creation of new performance works and the success and sustainability of Ballet Taos, according to Yackovich.
“Our students are pursuing a professional path into the world of dance and the support of the community is invaluable, so we hope everyone comes out for this event,” she said.
For more information, call the venue at (575) 751-4278 or visit ballettaos.com.