Parish Ballet Company members prepare for their upcoming performance of the Nutcracker to be held at 2 and 6 p.m. Dec. 19 at the Richland Parish Arts Center in Rayville.
Parish Ballet Company plans inaugural performance
Richland Parish has a new ballet company and the beginnings of a new holiday tradition this year as the company prepares for its first production of The Nutcracker Dec. 19 at the Richland Parish Arts Center.
Parish Ballet Company is the dream of local dance instructor Rebecka Gwin.
Parish Ballet Company is a non-profit organization committed to providing professional level dance training and added performance opportunities for all of the area’s dancers. The motive of Parish Ballet Company is to promote the study, preservation and enjoyment of classical, traditional and historical dance and music pieces as well as promoting the study and exploration of new emerging innovative dance and musical ideals.
Gwin opened A Time To Dance dance studio in Richland Parish in 2010. The studio quickly grew and expanded to its second location in West Carroll Parish. While owning, instructing, and operating her own studio was a dream come true, Gwin always knew there was one more thing to accomplish for the arts in her area. The thought of starting a pre-professional ballet company was a dream that had been brewing throughout her 30-year career. While many of her dance students were able to travel to Monroe to work with Twin City Ballet and Louisiana Delta Ballet, Gwin realized many others and their families couldn’t dedicate their extra time to traveling out of town each weekend for rehearsal, leaving many dancers without a company opportunity.
“I have been a member of both Twin City Ballet and Louisiana Delta Ballet and I wanted dancers from our area to be able to have the same wonderful opportunities and experiences,” Gwin said.
This led Gwin to realize Richland Parish had the talent and resources to establish a company of its own which could serve surrounding parishes.
“We chose the name Parish Ballet Company to reflect that,” Gwin said. “It’s not just a ballet company for Richland Parish, but for our neighboring parishes as well.”
Sevanna Oliver, who is an alumnus of A Time to Dance, and who has danced and performed in UL Lafayette Dance Company and Lafayette Ballet Theatre was a major part of the driving force to get this company up and running.
“She saw first hand the need for PBC in our area. She has our area dancer’s best interest at heart,” Gwin said. “After many long discussions and months of hard work, Parish Ballet Company was born.”
With Oliver as executive director, Gwin as artistic director and Nathaniel Jeane as assistant artistic director, the company was formed. Gwin put together a board of directors, gain 501(c) non-profit status for the organization and began to hold auditions in September.
The company now has 26 dancers ages 12 and up and is hard at work preparing for their first performance of the Nutcracker. Performances are slated for 2 and 6 p.m. Dec. 19 at the Richland Arts Center.
Tickets are $20 and available at A Time to Dance Studio in Rayville and online, along with more information about the ballet company, at www.parishballetcompany.com.