Progress Edition

Mid-Columbia Ballet: Perseverance, performance and professionalism

Mid-Columbia Basin company dancers watching backstage during the 2018 Nutcracker performance.
Mid-Columbia Basin company dancers watching backstage during the 2018 Nutcracker performance. Charlene Hardy

“Mid-Columbia Ballet is an organization near and dear to my heart, where, as a youth, I learned discipline, commitment, perseverance, respect, teamwork and a love of the arts as well as ballet. I am more than thrilled to be involved as a volunteer to give of my time so my daughter and other dancers can learn those same principles and values. We are all better people through our experiences with Mid-Columbia Ballet.”

This statement from Kerrilynn Robinson, current Mid-Columbia Ballet (MCB) Guild co-chair, parent, volunteer and alum, illuminates just some of the ways MCB serves our community in multiple ways.

The company is best known in the Tri-Cities for its annual performance of The Nutcracker, a beloved holiday tradition enjoyed by nearly 6,000 yearly. This iconic performance is the MCB’s primary recruitment and marketing opportunity. It has become a rite of passage for young dancers to audition for and perform in this production. The Nutcracker is its largest production, but the company also has a season of repertory ballet and a robust suite of outreach programming throughout the year.

The company kicked off 2019 with the production Ballet de Seuss and More in March, which included choreography by Debra Pearse Rogo and Colby Damon. In the month of May, the company will travel to Spokane to participate in The Ballet Alliance festival (previously known as Regional Dance America/Pacific). Additionally, MCB will co-host an annual community event at the LIGO Hanford site on May 18 and perform Carmina Burana with the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers the following week on March 24 and 25. August brings the annual Garden Party, a summer evening of ballet that kicks off each new season for donors and supporters.

In September, both company and Nutcracker auditions are held. Outreach programming is scheduled throughout the year engaging K-12 students, families who have members with special needs, and senior citizens.

Performing in the community during outreach performances benefits not only the dancers but also enriches community members.

“I can’t think of a more beneficial way for our students to see and hear something familiar but see it in an artistic way that is not on a 46-inch flat screen,” KC Flynn of Pasco Visual and Performing Arts said last year during a performance of Peter and the Wolf at Marie Curie Elementary. “The quality performance in here for our kids to see is just excellent.”

Trends come and go but the discipline of ballet is a constant resource for community improvement in an ever-changing world. Current MCB board member Kristen Heinemeyer says it best: “As a dancer and young woman, MCB gave me an opportunity to learn and experience ballet and dance, and provided a family and community of peers, mentors, and friends. The lessons learned go beyond dance and play an integral part in who I am today, and to this day, the friendships and memories run deep.

“The MCB community provides a space for young individuals to learn and hone skills of respect for oneself and others, patience, organization and professionalism. As an adult and alumna, the MCB family and community continues to strongly influence how I approach my life, my colleagues, my career, my family. I am proud to be a part of the MCB family.”