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Ballet Concerto turns 50 in a new outdoor setting

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Paul Harral
Paul is a lifelong journalist with experience in wire service, newspaper, magazine, local and network television and digital media. He was vice president and editor of the editorial page of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and editor of Fort Worth, Texas magazine before joining the Business Press. What he likes best is writing about people in detail and introducing them to others in the community. Specific areas of passion are homelessness, human trafficking, health care and aerospace.

Ballet Concerto Summer Dance Concert

The Shops at Clearfork, 5188 Monahans Ave., Fort Worth

Performances: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, June 21, 22, 23 at 8:30 p.m.

Opening Night Gala performance/fundraiser: Thursday, June 20, at 7 p.m.

Free lawn seating

Reserved table seating ($50 for a single seat, $200 for a table for four, and $500 for a table for 10): 817-763-5087 or www.balletconcerto.com

Adjacent parking, restaurants and retail businesses

Summer Dance Concert is supported in part by the Arts Council of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, the Texas Commission on the Arts, the Amon G. Carter Foundation, the Ryan Foundation and the Garvey Texas Foundation.

Ballet Concerto is celebrating its 50th year Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 21, 22 and 23 at 8:30 p.m. on an outdoor stage at a new location, The Shops at Clearfork in Fort Worth, just adjacent to its prior location at Heart of the Ranch.

Those performances are free, but reserved table seating is available for purchase.

An Opening Night Gala performance/fundraiser for patrons only is at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 20.

Ballet Concerto has presented this popular professional ballet performance every summer since 1983.

The concept was inspired by a trip to New York by Margo Dean, artistic director of Ballet Concerto and owner of Margo Dean School of Ballet.

“My daughter lived and is living in New York, and one summer we went to a free performance in Central Park. People had their blankets and everything. It was so wonderful, I said, ‘We need to do that in Fort Worth,’ and that was what sparked the beginning of it,” Dean said.

Ballet Concerto was incorporated in 1969 to present ballet and other forms of dance to audiences of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds.

If you don’t know Margo Dean, you wouldn’t know her dry sense of humor. For example, reacting to 50 years of Ballet Concerto, she says: “I’m just excited that I’m still alive. It seemed like it sure went by in a hurry. I was telling somebody today, I said, ‘Well I guess you probably read that I have, I won’t say I’m the oldest, but I have the oldest studio of anybody in the Metroplex.’ Somebody said, ‘Why do you suppose that is?’ I would just think, ‘Well they got older and died, and I just got older and

stayed.’ ”

Three ballets are being staged.

Luis Montero, who has been working with Dean and Ballet Concerto for 31 years, returns to stage his ballet Bolero, which he choreographed for Ballet Concerto early in their relationship. Montero is widely known for his expertise in Spanish dance, and the ballet has been presented in venues across the globe.

The bolero is a form of dance developed in Spain in the late 18th century and later in Cuba.

Montero’s ballet is set to a one-movement orchestral piece by French composer Maurice Ravel.

The program will begin with the classical work Pas Classique Hongrois from Raymonda by Russian chorographer Marius Petipa, first performed in 1898 in St. Petersburg.

Other works include one by Fort Worth choreographer Elise Lavallee and another by Dean.

“I love Margo and she treats me well, and the dancers are beautiful this year, gorgeous dancers.” Montero said. “We’re blessed.”

Lavallee is a professional choreographer with a background in musical theater and was a member of the Actors Equity Association. She danced professionally and has choreographed shows extensively in North Texas. And she teaches for Margo Dean, Texas Wesleyan University and Casa Manaña.

Lavallee came to the Margo Dean School of Dance in 1991 when she was 11.

A year later, Ballet Concerto was staging Bolero again and she was playing on the grassy area outside the studio and could hear the music from inside.

“I had to stop and look and watch. I just became in awe of what I was seeing. My heart started racing. I got chills all over my body. It was the first time I realized that that was what I wanted to do,” she said. “It was Luis’s Bolero that did that and inspired me.”

Her ballet this season is called Ebb and Flow, first choreographed in 2017.

“I’m doing it again, but I’m tweaking it to make it better. Anytime I choreograph a piece here, you know, new work, it’s not a lot of time,” Lavallee said. “It’s really nice this time to be able to go back to a piece and then really refine it.”

Dancers who trained with Dean and have gone on to professional careers have returned for the 50th celebration and she says it’s a treat for her to work with them.

“What’s awesome is they choose to be here because they believe in this concert and the fact that it is this jewel. It’s a free concert that is a gift to this community,” Lavallee said. “And Margo’s given me this platform that I get to choreograph pieces. I would never have gotten to choreograph on such outstanding dancers.”

Ebb and Flow, is about life, love and loss, she says.

Lavallee quotes from a HuffPost blog from 2014 by Joyce Marter, a psychotherapist and the founder of Urban Balance, that Lavallee says is “exactly how I think of it.”

Relationships ebb and flow, like the waves of the sea. They swell with intimacy, passion, and energy and then naturally wane through periodic episodes of separateness, quietness and space. Attachment and connection, followed by detachment and disconnection. Up and down, back and forth, give and take, push and pull. Such is the rhythm of life – a necessary process to prevent stagnation and promote our evolution of our consciousness.

And also in her mind was the suicides of her sister and of her best friend.

She’s using what she calls “popular-ish music. It’s stuff that some people may recognize. It’s different artists like alt-J, Bishop Briggs, Mansionair and Son Lux.”

“The reason I’m using artists like that is because we’re out here in this venue where just about anybody will walk by and see ballet,” Lavallee said.

She thinks the music may draw in people who think they would never be interested in ballet and “open their eyes and their minds to what they’ve never seen before and show it to them in a different light.”

The choreography, she said, is a fusion of dance styles – a bit of hip-hop, ballet and contemporary.

“But it’s really like a fusion of how I want to express myself, and not draw a line as to I’m going to do this style,” Lavallee said.

She also noted that Dean is the reason that Fort Worth and Dallas have Texas Ballet Theater.

“She was the founder of Fort Worth Dallas Ballet, which is now Texas Ballet Theater. I truly believe that the arts in this community would not be where they are today without her,” Lavallee said. “I think that that’s important for people to know. The Ballet Concerto started as a little concert and now it’s this big, beautiful concert that is free.”

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