I’ve known Melissa Lovejoy Goldman since high school. Though we’ve traveled very different paths, those paths still cross.
Recently she sent me an email about Tacoma City Ballet. Melissa has been a part of TCB for years and it’s great to see someone with so much passion for the art of ballet. I asked if she’d be willing to participate in 5 Question Friday and share some of that passion. She was happy to oblige.
1. What is the history of Tacoma City Ballet?
Fifty six years ago, it was Miss Jan Collum’s dream to create a classical ballet school and performing company in Tacoma. She believed that offering dancers who had achieved a certain level of technique, artistry and professionalism the opportunity to perform in a professional atmosphere was an integral facet of their preparation for a career as a professional ballet dancer.
The Jan Collum School of Classical Ballet was established in 1955 and along with the Concert Ballet Group of Tacoma, the performing company. The small company began with six dancers, but quickly grew boasting a membership of thirty or more. Several years later, Miss Jan created a not-for-profit corporation, gathered a board of directors and renamed the company BALLETACOMA. After a good thirty strong years, the company became plagued by deficit and the board of directors of BALLETACOMA decided to dissolve the corporation in 1995. Miss Jan and Miss Erin Ceragioli, the Co-Artistic Directors, refused to let the dream perish. Once again, a new not-for-profit corporation was created and a new board of directors was assembled. The company was christened Tacoma City Ballet, its third name in a forty-year history. Miss Jan Collum passed away in August of 2001, but if she were here today, she would be so proud of how her school and company have grown and continue to play such an essential role in Tacoma’s renaissance.
Housed in the beautiful Merlino Art Center at 6th and Fawcett in Tacoma, Tacoma City Ballet is very proud of its recently remodeled facility. One of the studios, an enormous ballroom with high ceilings and beautifully arched Palladian windows, is one of the crown jewels of our city. Dancers study and rehearse in spacious, old-world elegance. The atmosphere, filled with light and beautiful music, is uplifting and truly inspirational.
Tacoma City Ballet perpetuates the long established traditions of classical ballet. All classes, pre-ballet through professional, have a requisite syllabus, live piano accompaniment, and require dancers to don uniformed attire. Erin Ceragioli, Artistic Director, as well as Joel Myers, the new Assistant Artistic Director, embrace the traditional teaching philosophies of classical ballet, but insist that nurturing and developing the student’s mind and spirit as well as their body are equally important.
2. How can people help Tacoma City Ballet?
Oh, so many ways!
The most immediate is to vote for us in Intuit’s Love a Local Business grant competition. Tacoma City Ballet is competing for up to $50,000 in grant money through Love a Local Business from Intuit. Every comment we receive on our Love a Local Business page (http://bit.ly/o2X9qZ) gives us another chance to be awarded an initial $25,000. If you prefer, you could text TCBallet to 244326. They’ll ask you for your name and a comment after the initial text message. The quality of the comments will determine which finalist business receives an additional $25,000. So if you have 250 characters worth of good things to say about TCB, that would be fabulous. Maybe you’ve collaborated on a project, maybe you danced here when you were younger or had a child dance here. Maybe you’ve seen a show we’ve put on and would like to say something from an audience member’s point of view.
If you have a longer testimonial that won’t fit into 250 characters, we are always happy to receive those as well. We are constantly writing grants and developing new programs that ask for community testimonials, so a healthy library of letters and emails is always useful.
If you haven’t had the chance to experience what we have to offer, you can help us by joining our audience. In our 2011-2012 season, we have several shows:
· The Haunted Theatre – Halloween Fun For All Ages October 22nd-30th at Tacoma City Ballet
· Art at Work – Open Nutcracker Rehearsal November 19th 1-3pm at Tacoma City Ballet
· The Nutcracker – Classic Christmas Favorite with the Northwest Sinfonietta December 10th-21st at the Pantages Theatre
· Choreography Showcase – A Showcase of New Choreography April 20th-22nd at Theatre on the Square
Come take a ballet class with us – we have everything from beginning adult ballet (Thursdays at 7pm currently) through advanced ballet available on a drop-in basis. Or if there’s a child in your life that would benefit from some classical ballet training, send them our way. We have classes for students starting at 3 years old, and enrollment is open now. We’re always looking for new members of our ballet family!
3. What do you need if you want to join Tacoma City Ballet?
Really, anyone can participate in classes at Tacoma City Ballet. We have adult beginning and intermediate ballet classes that require nothing more than willingness to learn and $5-$10 for the class (there’s a discount if you purchase a 10-class card). If you’re talking about becoming a member of the Tacoma City Ballet Performing Company, there’s a more intense standard. We have company auditions each season, and company members are required to commit to a fairly strenuous schedule in addition to having a solid background in classical ballet. We have opportunities to become involved as a volunteer as well.
4. Your favorite moment in your years of working with at the Tacoma City Ballet?
I have so many, it was hard to decide. Was it the first time I had a solo role on stage? Was it the first time one of my students danced the role of Sugar Plum Fairy in Nutcracker? I finally figured it out – it’s actually something I get to enjoy over and over. I love watching my dancers grow up. They come to us as small children and learn not only classical ballet, but also respect, discipline, and self-control. Each year, we say goodbye to another batch of seniors as they head off to make their way in the world. It’s a pleasure watching them develop into extraordinary people, and then hearing about the wonderful things they do as adults.
5. What’s next for Tacoma City Ballet?
That’s the exciting part. TCB is entering a whole new chapter. We are currently developing more community outreach and education programs and working to bring the arts to as many people in Tacoma as possible. We are developing partnerships with the Evergreen State College as well as Tacoma Public Schools to bring ballet to underserved students. Last season, we were able to bring several professional dancers into our Nutcracker, and we have already held auditions for a small corps of professional dancers for this season.
I’d like to thank Melissa Lovejoy Goldman for participating in 5 Question Friday. As always, if you think you or someone you know should be a part of 5 Question Friday, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org . For more information on Tacoma City Ballet, you can contact Melissa at
508 6th Ave. Tacoma, WA 98402