Lasansky dance recital May 5

Ballet draws dancers back to the future

By Dagney C. Ernest | May 02, 2018
Photo by: Daniel O’Connell Jimena Lasanky, center, works with adult dancers Suzanne Dunavent-White (back to camera) and Molly Eddy on their "Akhmatova Songs" duet at her Rockport Studio.

Camden — Many a little girl, and the occasional little boy, falls in love with ballet, leaving the study behind by the end of high school or before. But for some, the attachment is deep enough to bring them back to the barre decades later — with a difference.

“It's really fun, because none of us have the pressure of thinking we're going to be ballerinas, so we don't take ourselves very seriously,” said Molly Eddy, a Coast Guard-licensed boat captain by profession and a dancer by avocation.

Eddy is one of several back-to-it dancers performing in the 37th anniversary dance concert by Lasansky Studio of Dance, together with the Dance Theater Ensemble. The performance is set for Saturday, May 5, at 7 p.m. at the Camden Opera House, 29 Elm St./Route 1.

Getting a kick out of seeing themselves in tutus does not mean the returning women aren’t working hard. Some of them first studied with Jimena Lasansky when they were the age of many of the dancers they will share the stage with (the youngest is 5). Part of this year’s show will tap directly into those long-ago children, via poems written during one of Lasanky’s annual summer thematic workshops that combine dance with all kinds of other artistic explorations.

“I will be reading them, and it’s super-fun poetry,” said Eddy. “I love how accessible they are!”

Eddy will be accessing her younger self, reading a poem she wrote at age 6. Other former students whose 1989 poems will be read are Laine Sanderson, Danica Phelps, Lara Keidel, Maia van Heeswijk, Megan Green, Lindsay Powers (also in the show), Julia Sortwell, Graham Allen, Willow Hall, Earth John, Emily Qualey and Jessica Belvill. Eddy said she doesn’t have specific memories of those days, but what she does remember paints a picture of time spent in Lasansky’s former studio in Lincolnville.

“I remember having, like, a ton of fun, you know ... going out in the garden, picking petals and making things with the plants and then bringing them back inside and playing with clay and eating popcorn,” she said.

She also remembers learning about having respect for everything in a somewhat unusual way.

“When we were taking ballet class, she used to have a lot of her plants inside the studio and you'd, like, invariably run into plants at some point and she'd make you apologize to them,” Eddy said, “which is just super — a little weird, but fun.”

The Lasansky Dance studio relocated to Rockport this century, to a large, airy, built-for-dance space created by Lasansky and her architect husband. But it’s still in the woods, Eddy said, “and the gardens are beautiful!”

Eddy, who studied with Lasansky from age 4 to 17, came back to ballet a couple of years ago, when her son had just turned 2. She described it as “sort of coming out of the weeds” and back into taking care of herself and, well, moving again.

“I like other exercise, like yoga, biking and other things, but there's nothing quite like ballet,” she said.

Her sister returnees dancers agree that, for them, ballet, with its focus on technique and discipline, is a way they find they can really get grounded in their own minds and bodies.

“Ballet, for all of us, is sort of a way to turn that internal chatter down ... it's a freer way of getting some exercise,” she said.

Not that Eddy is lacking in activity. She launched her own business last summer, Saltwater Maritime, offering personalized instruction for people with boats.

“I’m working with new boat owners, old boat owners, just sort of refreshing people and making them feel more comfortable in their own skills and on their own vessels,” she said.

While she’s working with recreational boat owners, her husband is running Boynton-McKay Food Co.

“He’s the owner and chef there. We both sort of like to be in charge,” Eddy said.

Performing on stage, however, is a new challenge for Eddy, who will perform one of the "Akhmatova Songs" pieces with Suzanne Dunavent-White, another adult ballet student. The modern dance suite, using John Tavener's music, was developed years ago specifically as pieces to be looked forward to and passed on by students over the course of their Lasansky School of Dance experience. Returned student Emily Seymour had danced the piece during her first stint with the company; last summer, former student Anna Rich was visiting and joined her in helping re-stage the repertoire staple.

But creating new work out of each dancer’s experience is also a tradition, and “Couplet” will have a different ending this year.

“It wasn’t working, so we changed it. I always want dancers to dance from their hearts, from their element,” Lasansky said as she finalized the program.

A recipient of numerous fellowships and grants for her work in the fields of choreography, performance and education, Lasansky has taught creative movement, ballet, modern dance and choreography on the Midcoast since 1977. She trained at the Juilliard School in New York, concurrently studying anatomy and Pilates technique; and later earned a master’s degree in dance in education.

Saturday’s one-hour dance concert comprises 12 dance selections to music from Strauss to Crumb to von Bingen. In addition to solos, duets, trios and a quartet from the Dance Theater Ensemble repertoire, there will be six premieres. The students — who hail from Appleton, Belfast, Bristol, Brooks, Camden, Glen Cove, Hope, Liberty, Lincolnville, Northport, Rockland, Rockport, Searsmont, Thomaston, Union and Warren — have been hands-on in both choreography and costuming.

“Taking the class is fun and working on the piece has been fun,” said Eddy, hoping for a big turnout. “If I'm going to be a little jittery and embarrassed on stage, I might as well have a lot of people to do it in front of!”

The 37th anniversary season dance concert is free and open to the public. For more information about Lasansky Dance, visit lasanskydance.com. The evening opens six weeks of local dance performances at the downtown Camden Opera House; see the schedule at camdenoperahouse.com.

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Staff Profile

Dagney C. Ernest
A&E editor for Courier Publications, LLC
(207) 594-4401/4407, ext. 115
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Dagney has been providing Courier coverage of the local arts scene since 1985 and has helmed the multi-paper A&E section since it debuted in 2003. She has been a local performing artist, community and professional for more than 30 years; and spent a decade writing, producing and announcing on-air for several Midcoast radio stations. When not in the NewsNest, Dagney likes to be in motion.

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