By Art Thomas
From grade school, we learned that a “verb” is an action word (usually) and that strong action words are good to use in writing. How appropriate that our area’s classic dance company is Verb Ballets. The innovative company has celebrated classic dance with both a national repertory, and also by encouraging local artists as performers and choreographers. Indeed, Verb Ballets is an “action” group. Recently they celebrated a move into a long-term home.
Rocky River’s Ann Elder helped as co-chairman of a fundraiser and party to welcome the artists and introduce the new space to the group’s supporters. Formerly Verb Ballets rented rehearsal space at a variety of locations. The current space, part of Shaker Heights’ Christ Episcopal Church, includes offices and a studio with a dance floor and mirrors. Director Dr. Margaret Carlson said, “We are so grateful to the donors who provided the space which will be a stable and long-term home for us.”
The evening began with a social hour with appetizers provided by Pearl of the Orient and a jazz trio. The decor was themed to a “spruce-up campaign” with paint cans, color swatches, etc. This is appropriate, since the company is looking for more funding to improve the space even more. Guests could make donations on the spot from a “wish list.”
All of Verb Ballets’ performers were hyperthrilled to be in the space. One local dancer, Erin Lewis, is on maternity leave. Marketing Director Dan Kilbane quipped, “Erin’s still working for the company, writing grant proposals.”
The evening included a short program of remarks from Carlson and the honoring of Malcolm Brown Gallery, Rhonda Brown of the Joffrey Ballet and the Shaker Arts Council. Following that, the audience of supporters got a miniperformance, which included one of the company’s signature works, “Bolero.” This piece was choreographed by Heinz Poll in 1966 and must be the most requested piece over the last 15 years. It continues to thrill audiences today.