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Ballet Acadiana: A Spring of Rebirth

Jun 03, 2016 01:19PM ● By Press Release

From tiny bits of charcoal, iconic Acadiana artist Floyd Sonnier began his works of pen, ink, and charcoal drawings depicting the life, culture, and tradition that is true of the Acadian experience here in south Louisiana. Telling his story similar to many Cajun Americans in the 1930s-1950s, Sonnier’s book From Small Bits of Charcoal: The Life and Works of a Cajun Artist, has been the inspiration for Ballet Acadiana’s spring season. With a strong focus of promoting art, education, and culture, Ballet Acadiana’s creative director Beverly F. Spell pulled her inspiration of this non-profit dance company’s recent performance, Le Papillon: Celebrating Floyd Sonnier’s Acadiana, from Sonnier’s autobiography and works.  

With the creative genius of Spell, alongside world renowned choreographer and dancer Bill Hastings of New York, the 21 company members of Ballet Acadiana performed its original folk ballet, Le Papillon, May 13-15 at the picturesque Grand Opera House of the South.  Audiences were filled with school children, cultural and theatre patrons, and local and statewide dignitaries.  Le Papillon was a celebration of not only the work and life of Floyd Sonnier, but also of the rebirth of the Cajun people and culture after a period of cultural and linguistic oppression. The title, Le Papillon, (“butterfly”), was chosen because Sonnier placed a butterfly in each of his drawings symbolizing the rebirth of the Cajun people. Dr. Annie Spell, board president of Ballet Acadiana noted, “This performance offered our community more than great performance art.  Our company created a one of a kind educational experience; with narration in French and English by Dr. Michael Vincent of the LSU Ag Center and French immersion student, Andre’ Badeaux, alongside live Cajun music provided by The Has Beans, amidst multimedia projections of Sonnier’s works which were brought to life onstage. We have been blessed by a wonderful partnership with the Sonnier family and Mr. Sonnier’s legacy.”  

This partnership between Ballet Acadiana, the family and works of Floyd Sonnier was celebrated at Le Vol Du Papillon, a reception on April 17 at Sonnier’s Beau Cajun Art Gallery in Scott. The crowded gallery held supporters of dance, Cajun culture, and Francophone enthusiasts.  Notable attendees included Kristin Sanders of the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, Lafayette District Attorney Keith Stutes, and International Trade Manager Philippe Gustin of Lafayette Consolidated Government.

Taking this momentum and giving back to its community, on May 22, company members will perform Le Papillon at no charge for members of the Autism Society of Acadiana. Board president, Spell, notes, “Persons affected with an Autism Spectrum Disorder may have difficulty experiencing performance art given the sensory experiences and length. This encore performance will be an adaptation of the full performance in order to remove these obstacles.”

With continued focus on the trinity of art, education, and culture, anticipation builds as Ballet Acadiana plans its fall season., [email protected]