The recently established Claremont Colleges Ballet Company (CCBC) is preparing for its second performance of the year. During the course of this second semester the dancers, along with Co-Founders/Presidents Emily Kleeman (PZ ’14) and Vivian Delchamps (SC ’14) and Vice-President Nicole Wein (HMC ‘15), have been preparing excerpts from traditional classics such as Tchaikovksy and Petipa’s “Sleeping Beauty” as well as from the more abstract world of contemporary ballet like the Joffrey’s “Ray One.”
As a new outlet within the vast Claremont Colleges dance community, the club is looking to not only attract new members but also to develop greater presence and recognition across campus by drawing in a larger audience and regular following. Thus in addition to showcasing the classical and neoclassical ballet talents of its own members, the CCBC is also collaborating with the Tap Club in a friendly performance “battle” during its upcoming show.
While many dancers have at some point felt forced to choose academics over dance, the need or desire to dance is not something that is easily shed. Many students are often determined to stick with it despite their other obligations. Although many unique dance classes and performance opportunities exist at the Claremont Colleges, the CCBC is the only performing ballet group on campus, and it is completely student-run, a status which comes with its own unique drawbacks and advantages.
As a small, new group, the CCBC is still struggling to gain enough funding to put on performances of high quality production value—a dancer’s pointe shoes alone can cost up to $100 and last for as little as one to two weeks. Additionally, the club’s lack of association with any particular college’s dance department makes it difficult to gain widespread recognition and performance opportunities. Within the club, the dancers face a variety of other internal struggles.
The process of early development for this company has provided a plethora of learning experiences. Students from a variety of different training backgrounds, and therefore different methods of approach, meet at least once a week in Scripps’s Richardson Dance Studio to work through a warm-up class to keep dancers in shape before launching into repertoire classes or rehearsals for upcoming showcases.
This system requires its participants to organize themselves with great discipline and commitment. It offers these dancers the opportunity to develop great leadership, cooperation, and communication skills as they work with one another to develop the structures, schedules, and creative goals within their company.
While these dancers may come from a variety of dance backgrounds and methods, what they all share is a love of dance that allows them to come together to share and consider each other’s insights and ideas. This pure love of dance, untainted by contracts, monetary commitment, competition, or judgment gives these dancers a sense of newfound freedom with the art form in which many of them have so strictly trained for years.
“The atmosphere is much more relaxed than the regular rigorous discipline of ballet,” said dancer Rebekah Lim (PO ’15). “We’ll do frappés to the ‘Cantina Band’ song from Star Wars or sing Les Misérables at the barre.”
There is a sense of contagious joy and pride within the dance studio each Saturday afternoon, when the club convenes. There are few rules and all arms are poised in an unfaltering “à la seconde”, or open wide stance. Such freedom opens this budding company’s future up for either great chaos but more likely even greater success.
The Claremont Colleges Ballet Company’s first spring showcase will take place Sunday, April 28 at 1:30 p.m. in the Pendleton Dance Studio.