Students in the Preprofessional (advanced) Division have earned their placement in this level with hard work, determination, and discipline. The amount of time spent in a level depends solely on the student's individual improvement and is determined by the artistic director and her staff.
The bridge between student and preprofessional is in the apprentice level. A dancer is invited to be an apprentice when his or her technique reaches a certain level, when the student becomes serious and when there is a certain standard of emotional maturity. An ability to accept and concentrate on corrections is important as is self discipline and an ability to work for oneself.
During the first year apprentices learn rehearsal skills, what it means to attend rehearsals and how to understudy a part. They are offered a number of opportunities to learn roles that they might one day be called upon to perform. This is a vital part of their education. One or more performing opportunities are offered to begin the development of stage presence and style.
By the second year of apprenticeship, dancers know rehearsal behavior and are developing an understanding of the necessary performance quality and knowledge of how to learn choreography, an art in itself. During that year, performance opportunities may be expanded providing that technical development is keeping pace with the rest.
Apprentices may dance with the corps de ballet but usually in the most inconspicuous places. They spend most of their time understudying corps de ballet and demi-soloist roles.
Understudies are experienced in the ways of the company and beginning to show their potential as performers. As a member of the corps de ballet they dance the main group parts. They understudy demi-soloist and soloist roles.
Dancers are made members of the Canton Ballet Company when their technical development reaches a high standard. At this stage they are cast in group dances and progress to demi-solo work as their technique and artistry grows.
Company membership comprises four categories of dancers: principal dancers dancing the main roles, soloists dancing the next most important roles, demi-soloists dancing with two to four other dancers and the corps de ballet doing group dances.
From the roster of company members, dancers are selected to dance specific roles based upon their technical and artistic abilities.
Regional Dance America was founded in 1988 to promote the artistic development of dance companies and to continue the important work that was started in 1956 by the National Association for Regional Ballet. NARB was instrumental in the decentralization of dance in the United States.
Every year across the country member companies attend a regional festival to share four days of classes, lectures, seminars and social events. Performances showcasing the member companies demonstrate the growth they have achieved throughout the year. The interchange among dancers, directors, choreographers and world-class teachers over the intensive festival period is one of the greatest benefits of Regional Dance America.
Canton Ballet has been a member company since 1965 (first of NARB and now of RDA). It has been an honor company within the organization since 1984.
Artistic Director Cassandra Crowley was a founding director of Regional Dance America, served on its national board of directors for fifteen years and is now a Director Emeritus.
Each spring a different nationally recognized judge visits each of the member companies of Regional Dance America, observes class and rehearsals and evaluates the quality of what they see. Canton Ballet is a member of RDA/Northeast. One or more ballets are chosen for the RDA/NE Festival held in the spring each eyar.
There are three potential programs on which the adjudicator may place ballets. One is the Emerging Choreographer's showcase, another is the Concert program held on Friday night and finally, the highest and most prestigeous level is the Gala program held on Saturday night of the festival. Canton Ballet has most often been placed on the Gala program. Each year we have to work very hard to try to maintain that standard as each judge sees us from a new perspective.