Ballet Vero Beach at Windsor: Joyful return after hiatus

PHOTO BY KAILA JONES

Windsor residents were treated to Ballet at the Pergola, a delightful afternoon of spectacular dancing by Ballet Vero Beach resident dancers, joined by dancers from Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami, performing at Windsor’s beautiful Village Centre.

“I do want to thank Windsor for sponsoring this rather extravagant moment, and for celebrating and supporting all of our local arts organizations,” said Stacey Lewis, a Windsor resident and Ballet Vero Beach board member, before introducing Adam Schnell, BVB artistic director/CEO.

“We are so thrilled to finally be back at Windsor after a couple years’ hiatus,” said Schnell, recalling that he initially met Lewis at their very first Windsor performance, and that she has since become an invaluable asset to their organization.

“But I say that also knowing that the Windsor community has been an amazing asset to our organization. Many of you are donors, and aside from that, the Windsor Foundation has been more than generous with us over the years,” said Schnell.

Introducing the first piece, he noted that in the fall of 2020, at the height of the pandemic, BVB added two more resident professional dancers – Katherine Eppink and Anders Southerland – who now live and work here full time.

Speaking to the audience between performances, Schnell related that BVB will celebrate its 10th anniversary season next year, adding that much of their success has been the result of partnerships.

“Those were our resident dancers, but we are beyond fortunate and beyond lucky to be in a sister company relationship with an organization called Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami,” said Schnell, recognizing its directors, Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra, and their daughter Eva.

“The Dimensions dancers have really become like family to us, and they’ve gotten us through some ridiculously difficult times,” said Schnell. “They really are phenomenal.”

The next piece featured two extraordinary Dimensions dancers, Mayrel Martinez and Maikel Hernandez, who emigrated from Cuba.

“So, I think we can all agree that I am very lucky to work with such talented dancers on a daily basis,” said Schnell.

Speaking about the mission of Ballet Vero Beach, Schnell commented on their Stage to Page program, a partnership with the Learning Alliance, which uses their free student matinees as a conduit to aid early learning opportunities.

Having offered matinees to more than 1,250 first-grade students over the past two years, he said they have seen improvements in cognition, memory and vocabulary. They eventually hope to annually reach every first-, third- and fourth-grade student in the county.

“A new initiative that I’m really, really thrilled about is our brand-new fellowship initiative for dancers. That’s a partnership with the Learning Alliance and with Indian River State College,” said Schnell.

That initiative, which is an Impact 100 finalist, would pay for the AA degrees of four students annually, who would dance with BVB and receive training from the Learning Alliance to assist with the Stage to Page program and other BVB educational engagements.

“We have a lot in store for our 10th anniversary, and even beyond. But again, I can’t stress how important it is that we live in such a phenomenally philanthropic community,” said Schnell.

The afternoon concluded with a cocktail reception followed by several more outstanding performances, including the finale, a lively 10-dancer Tarantella.

On April 22, BVB will host a Ballet Under the Stars fundraiser, 6 p.m. at Tree House Vero Beach. For more information, visit BalletVeroBeach.org.

Photos by Kaila Jones

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