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story.lead_photo.caption Courtesy Photo "My vision for this company is to be able to give the community all of it: 'Swan Lake' and rock 'n' roll -- and everything in between," says artistic director Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye.

This week, NWA Ballet Theatre will present NEXT: Classically Contemporary Dance, which includes four brand new works -- a collaboration between choreographers that include NWA Ballet artistic director Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye, former Hubbard Street dancer Karen Castleman and Venezuelan choreographer Gillmer Duran.

"The program speaks to the innovation of dance," says Jolicoeur-Nye, a former Kansas City Ballet company member who became artistic director of NWA Ballet Theatre in 2017. "Creating new work is paramount for dance. A program like this is really close to my heart. Innovating furthers the art form and helps the company grow in diversity and ability."


NEXT: Classically Contemporary Dance

WHEN — 7 p.m. June 13-14

WHERE — Arend Arts Center, 1901 SE J St. in Bentonville

COST — $25


Alvin Tovstogray, a principal dancer with the Oklahoma City Ballet, is one of four professional dancers who are joining the local company for this performance.

"Ryan contacted me and told me about the plans for the new program [and] all the new work that's coming in," says Tovstogray, who is originally from Ukraine. "This is a new company -- it's very exciting to go somewhere else, create new works, meet new dancers and do the job that I love so much."

Executive director Margie Bordovsky co-founded NWA Ballet Theatre in 2011 with Mariah Bordovsky and Peggie Wallis, while the latter was training ballet dancers in Northwest Arkansas.

"[Wallis] was raising these beautiful dancers, and she didn't feel comfortable telling them to go dance with a company because it was too rough," says Bordovsky. "I wanted to find a way to have a company here, that had a good atmosphere with family and friends, and people would not have to drive three hours to see good dance."

Company member Ava Cobb says the efforts to create a company with a "good atmosphere" were successful.

"The minute I walked in, I thought it was a super healthy environment. It's small, and it's a room full of good friends, and you don't have a lot of the politics that a lot of the companies will have. Things don't get dramatic. It's a joyful environment to walk into every day."

Starting a fledgling ballet with meager funding wasn't easy, but the charm of Northwest Arkansas has been useful when recruiting dancers for the company.

"It's interesting, I was able to hire dancers from out of state, even before Ryan came on," Bordovsky says. "I figure, if you're honest with people, and say, 'Look, we have no funding, but I think this is important for this community,' and you tell them about this area, when they would come and audition, they just fell in love with the community and wanted to help build it."

NEXT, says Jolicoeur-Nye, is part of the company's Dance Anywhere/Everywhere initiative, funded in part by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation. Part of the impetus behind the initiative -- which includes Dance Beat, a series of events performed in outdoor spaces in and around Northwest Arkansas -- is to make dance more accessible to people who might be intimidated by an art form with which they're not familiar.

"The dancers go outside and meet the community where they're at," he explains of Dance Beat. "Ballet is not palatable for everyone until they have a taste of it, and it takes seeing an abundance of dance to get a taste. I created a Beatles piece -- I felt like something fun like that would help bridge the gap of not knowing that much about dance. That innate music -- I think all humans connect to that when they hear that music.

"My vision for this company is to be able to give the community all of it: 'Swan Lake' and rock 'n' roll -- and everything in between."

NAN What's Up on 06/09/2019

Print Headline: Dance Everywhere

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