Film by Bob Lebzelter chronicling Ballet Theatre Ashtabula at Harbor film festival

The Ashtabula Harbor’s heritage outdoor film series ends Friday, August 23, with a 50-minute documentary by retired journalist (and Ashtabula Arts Center volunteer videographer) Bob Lebzelter on the grueling work it takes to put on a dance program at the Ashtabula Arts Center. “Fly On” chronicles the hours of work dancers and instructors put into the effort. While Ballet Theatre Ashtabula is known for its holiday “Nutcracker” offering, the Spring Dance Recital also requires dancers to spend hours and hours in practice and learning and creating choreography.

The film will be shown in the green space immediately west of Bridge Street Art Works, 1009 Bridge St.  Should it rain, the film will be shown the following week.

Lebzelter spent a month shooting video, chronicling the dancers as they evolved. “We take you to the practice rooms as students try different moves, make mistakes and try again,” Lebzelter said. “Then we quickly whisk you to the Arts Center stage. You will experience the dancing as I shoot right from the stage, from the audience’s perspective, from behind the stage and even above on the catwalk. I remember looking in back of me to see how much room I had so I wouldn’t fall off the stage while recording,” he said.

Students simultaneously worked on classic ballet and contemporary dance. The film interviews several of the participants about why they dance and what life lessons they get.

“Physically, dancing is incredibly difficult,” said dancer Jayson Gage. “Your body is doing things it doesn’t naturally do, like turning out and lifting your leg above a certain point, jumping as high as you can.”

The film looks back at the program as Director of Dance and instructor Clover Robinson goes over a photo of the troupe in the 90s and discusses the many people who ended up with careers in dance in far-flung areas of the world. It also looks to the future with young dancers, some not even in school yet.

“I think you will come away with an admiration for what these kids have accomplished and respect for their work ethic,” Lebzelter said.

Previous films in the harbor series have looked at Hulett unloaders, the Finnish contribution to the Harbor and the county’s agricultural heritage, as seen through 100 barn quilts. The films are free and appropriate for all ages. People should bring lawn chairs.