The school year had just ended when four local youths began gearing up for more training.
Junior Dance Company members Mollie Petrizzo, Lydia Henning, Alison Greene, and Margot Paul auditioned for and were accepted into the acclaimed Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts International Pre-Professional Summer Training Program. Only 35 students from across the country were selected to participate in this two-week intensive ballet program.
The Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts, located in the downtown cultural district of Torrington, was founded in 1969 by acclaimed ballet teacher Sharon Dante, and is recognized as a leading professional ballet training organization in the United States, and is also accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance.
Nutmeg offers two intensive programs; a year-round Residency Program, as well as a Summer Program which the girls attended. Nutmeg graduated 17 Residency Program high school students this past year.
Using the same approach as with their year-round Residency Program, Nutmeg developed a summer program as a platform for training serious-minded students who also wish to be involved in high-quality performance opportunities. Auditions occurred across the United States on various dates from January through April.
The pre-professional program that Petrizzo, Henning, Greene, and Paul participated in was specially designed for the highly-motivated younger female and male dancer, aged 10 to 14. All resident students in this program were housed in the main dormitory building complex which was limited to 35 live-in students. The curriculum included 14 days of rigorous study in Classical Ballet Technique, Pointe (a dance performed on the tips of the toes), Pas de Deux (a dance for two people, typically a man and a woman), Classical Male and Female Variations, Theory Study, Repertoire (dance pieces that a company or dancer is prepared to perform), Modern Repertoire, Study of Ballet Methodology, and a new course in Bio-Mechanics (the science of movement of a living body, including how muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments work together to produce movement).
As a bonus, the Nutmeg summer students were invited to visit Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, where they experienced America's longest-running international dance festival.
On the last day of their two-week dance intensive, these four girls and the other pre-professional students captivated their audience with a demonstration and performance in the Nutmeg Premier Studio. The dancers began with barre and center work staged by Victoria Mazzarelli. Eleanor D’Antuono, Victoria Mazzarelli, and Susan Szabo collaborated in the staging of variation experts from the classical ballets “La Bayadere” and “Paquita."
The dancers then moved to a powerful Modern improvisation staged by Jonathan Eden. Mazurka from “Paquita” staged by Timothy Melady then followed, and Nutmeg Principal Ron Alexander’s staging of Waltz of the Hours from “Coppelia” concluded the show. Akemi Kerber was the pianist for the event; instructors Joan Kunsch and Steven Apatow were also in attendance.
Mollie Petrizzo a 7th grader at began dancing at the age of 3. In addition to studying ballet, she holds numerous awards from hip-hop competitions all over New England. Petrizzo is a maximum honors student and part of the First Strings ensemble. She had the role of Alice in CONNetic Dance/Ballet Theatre Company’s version of Alice in Wonderland in 2009.
Lydia Henning, a 7th grader at , has studied dance since the age of 4. She is a consistent straight-A student and an accomplished violin and piano player. Henning, an avid reader, also enjoys writing fiction. She recently received statewide recognition for her ongoing efforts in community service projects.
Alison Greene is an 8th grader at King Philip Middle School who is also a maximum honors student. She began dancing at the age of 4, and has been studying ballet at BTC since 2007. Greene enjoys sharing her passion for ballet with younger dancers by helping them during rehearsals and performances. She also loves to sing and write stories.
Margot Paul, an 8th grade honor student at McGee Middle School (Berlin), studied ballet, jazz, tap, and hip-hop as a young child but began a more in-depth practice of ballet at BTC only 4 years ago. Paul was recently cast in a minor role in the online show KickinKitchen.TV, and had the role of Clara in at . She also enjoys horseback riding.
Petrizzo, Henning, Greene, and Paul are a part of BTC’s Junior Dance Company under the direction of Tracy Dorman and Roman Baca. Other members of BTC’s Junior Dance Company include Morgan Lloyd, Kelsey Hammond, and Hayley Eicher, all of West Hartford.
These girls intend to continue their ballet training with a lot of hard work and determination. They look forward to practicing what they learned at Nutmeg and where it will take them. They agreed, “The teachers at Nutmeg really pushed us hard. They made sure we were having fun too. We were dancing 8 hours a day, every day. The R.A.’s were great. Variations with Ms. Mazzarelli were awesome. We made friendships at Nutmeg that will last forever. There were kids just like us from all over the United States – Maine, Colorado, Massachusetts, Arizona, Maryland, Texas – everywhere. At Nutmeg we realized how much we really love to dance. We’ve got big dreams, and we’re going to follow them.”