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Face Magazine of Acadiana

Discover Lafayette: Lafayette Ballet Theatre’s Mitzi Heath Discusses 18th Annual Nutcracker Ballet

Nov 14, 2018 11:49AM ● By Jan Swift

Mitzi Heath, Co-Artistic Director of the Lafayette Ballet Theatre, provides a delightful take on why she has the most wonderful job in the world.  On a recent podcast episode of Discover Lafayette, Mitzi spoke with Jan Swift about the theatre and its conservatory, as well as the tryouts for the 2018 annual Nutcracker Ballet performance to be held December 8-9, 2018 at the Heymann Center.

Lafayette Ballet Theatre (LBT) was founded in 1982, filling the need for a classical ballet company in our community. Its official school, Dance Conservatory, was established the previous year and supplies 90 percent of the company’s dancers.

Lafayette Ballet Theatre is run by sisters Shannon and Mitzi Heath, both of whom were professional dancers. Their mother, Patty Heath, designs and creates the costumes: with tutus running up to $5,000 each, any talented young dancer has access to the appropriate costume no matter their financial situation. Committed to their craft, the Heaths pour their hearts, souls, and talents into LBT in order to sustain opportunities for classical ballet training and performances in our area. LBT is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with its funding generated through community financial support, grants, and tuition from the Dance Conservatory.

If you’ve never seen a live performance of the Nutcracker Ballet, add this to your bucket list of life’s beautiful experiences. Guest artists from the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the entire dance community present this classical ballet in two acts, based on the story of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s “Nutcracker and the King of Mice,” with original music of Peter Tchaikovsky. More than just a dance, the Nutcracker is a tradition for many families who view this as the start of the holiday season.

Mitzi explained that with over 150 young dancers needed for this year’s Nutcracker Ballet, they were reaching out to all area dancers who were at least 8 years old, had completed one full year of ballet study, and were currently enrolled in an established dance program. If your child is a dancer and you haven’t considered having him or her audition, you may want to put this on your list for next year. The cost is $35 to audition, and performers selected incur a $300 charge which covers their costumes and all related expenses for the performance. It’s a beautiful gift to your child to have this life-changing experience!

 Through the support of the community, LBT has sustained its place as Acadiana’s professional ballet company, offering 28-week contracted positions to local artists, and a long-term student scholarship program.

LBT currently maintains an extensive complimentary ticket program, providing underprivileged children and adults, A Night at the Ballet, as well as supporting all of its educational programs that reach over 2500 children annually in schools and at the theatre.

LBT students have gained acceptance into the School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Houston Ballet and many more. Mitzi shared that the ideal age for an aspiring ballet dancer is age 8, and training takes about 12 years for a serious student. Similar to a ball player, ballet is an athletic endeavor and not for the undisciplined!

 

Jan Swift is host of Discover Lafayette, an audio podcast focused on the people and rich culture of Lafayette, the Gateway to South Louisiana. www.discoverlafayette.net. Podcasts are released each Friday and you may subscribe at no charge to receive free downloads on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

 









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