Rennick Meat Market is helping young artists in our community this month. From November 1 through December 6, Rennick will donate 10% of their lunch sales, Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., to Ballet Theatre Ashtabula School of Dance. Based at the Ashtabula Arts Center, BTA School of Dance has been teaching young people for over fifty years, and making The Nutcracker a community tradition for thirty-eight years. BTA offers classes for recreational students, dancing for fun and fitness, as well as for pre-professional students, providing foundational ballet training to those working towards a career in dance.
Alex Asteinza, co-owner of Rennick Meat Market, has been a staunch supporter of Ballet Theatre Ashtabula, and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Ashtabula Arts Center. “Coming from New York and the arts culture there, I think it’s great to have this resource here. We had Lincoln Center right there, and then you come to Ashtabula and see these dancers working with professionally-trained teachers, in a studio with the same floor as Lincoln, putting on full productions – it’s a great asset for the community. I’m happy to be able to support what they’re doing.”
“BTA alumni have gone on to professional careers as performers, choreographers, teachers, and founders of dance companies and schools throughout the country,” notes Clover Robinson, director of BTA. “Just to name a few, we’ve had Katherine Horrigan, who is the co-founder of Company Danzante and the director of dance at Adagio Ballet School of Dance in Arlington, Virginia. We’ve had Tim Kolman, who’s currently dancing professionally with Ballet Tucson. Cara Seymour is a Juilliard grad dancing in New York City at the Metropolitan Opera. Rebekka Ryan, who just last Christmas was dancing in The Nutcracker at the Arts Center, is now at Marymount Manhattan College.” Robinson herself started dancing with BTA when she was three years old, coming up through the program and going on to obtain a BFA in Dance from Wright State University. She toured internationally with Hubbard Street II, and was a faculty member with Lou Conte Dance Studio and Dayton Ballet School, before coming back to her hometown and the dance school she started in as a child. “This was my second home growing up. I wanted dance to continue to be a part of my life after I retired professionally, and I wanted to be closer to my family. Teaching at the Arts Center, and then becoming the artistic director after Shelagh Dubsky retired, let me do that. This dance program has continued to grow, and that’s been personally and professionally important to me. I firmly believe that dance is for everyone. It’s an outlet for self-expression, and we all need that in our lives. If you want dance to be your career, we can provide you the training to make that possible, as well as a network of alumni to connect with. This summer we had Lonnie Davis Jr in as a guest instructor and choreographer in modern and contemporary dance. Lonnie and I danced together professionally, and it was wonderful to be able to give our kids and other dancers in the area the opportunity to work with him. If you just love music and dancing, and you want to do it purely for fun, you’re welcome here, as well – you don’t have to have professional plans to dance with us. Whatever a student’s reasons for dancing with BTA, they will get high-quality classes and performance opportunities. We invest in our students’ growth. We want them to discover their own unique potential.”
One of those performance opportunities is The Nutcracker, which BTA presents every December for three weekends. Rennick’s Dining for Dance event will culminate on December 6, the same day this year’s production of The Nutcracker opens. “It’s wonderful to have this tradition that brings our community together every Christmas. We have multiple generations of families who come see it year it after year. It’s such a special thing to be part of. And as an educator, being able to offer students this kind of performance opportunity, whether it’s The Nutcracker or our Spring Dance Concert, is invaluable. Every dancer is learning customized choreography that is adapted to challenge their particular abilities and showcase their strengths. It’s a tremendous experience for a young performer. I’m so grateful to Rennick for helping BTA serve our students.”
Rennick Meat Market is located at 1104 Bridge Street in Ashtabula. Ballet Theatre Ashtabula’s production of The Nutcracker will run December 6-8, 13-15, and 19-22; get tickets here. BTA’s dance classes will resume in January; call (440) 964-3396 for registration information.