Boreal Ballet

Ely dance group prepares for ‘A Stone’s Throw’

From left,  Susan Cook, Caroline Homer, Evelyn Bercher, Laura Pasmick, Ryne Prigge, Lindy Dalberg, Emma Terwilliger will be part of ‘A Stone’s Throw’ to be performed by the Boreal Ballet of Ely.
Julie Houle

ELY - Ever been at the library and  wonder about the music spilling from the top floor?  About  the strains of Vivaldi, Yo-Yo Ma and Tchaikovsky?  The throngs of young dancers, in leotards and pointed shoes,  five days a week, nine months a year?  

Come to “A Stone’s Throw...” at the Vermilion theatre and discover the wonder of this dance group. Performances will be held 7 p.m. May 23-25 at the VCC Fine Arts Theatre. Reserved seating tickets are available at Music Outfitters, elytickets.com and at the door.

The Community Center is home to Ellen Schafroth’s Boreal Ballet, a community dance company for children and adults.  It currently numbers 50 students ages 4-13. Each year Schafroth writes, choreographs and produces an original Ballet for her students, who perform it exclusively in Ely.

Every year the Ballet has a unique story, music and company of dancers.

The 2013 performance, like her other shows, was developed over a period of months.  Schafroth’s inspirations are myriad:  a song, a picture, a seemingly unrelated comment.  “I never know where my shows come from,” she said.  “I just know they do.”  

This year’s theme began as a vivid dream about rocks.  She then received several gifts of rocks.  “I suddenly had quite a collection!  They are all stones but yet unique, that worked perfectly for the story I want to tell,” she said.

When she revealed the storyline of this ballet, there were some questions from her dancers.  “How do rocks dance?” asked one.  “I mean, rocks don’t dance.”

Schafroth replied:  “Are you sure?”

That wonderment, she feels, is at the heart of the creative process.  “Dancing stones, what would that look like?”  Each of the classes has the name of a stone:  Jasper, Carnelian, Amazonite.

Twelve-year-old Laura Pasmick is Amethyst, the title character.  Laura  has been dancing for six  years, the last two en pointe. She practices in her backyard on Fall Lake, and tries to visualize her solos as she falls asleep, to help with memorization.  For her, the most challenging position is her high Arabesque when, standing on one toe, she extends her opposite leg and forms a 180 degree angle.

“It’s not easy,” says Laura. “You have to cover up all your hard work to make it look  easy.”

Producing an original ballet is arduous work.  Schafroth is often asked: Why go to all that trouble? “ By creating a story, each dancer has an investment in telling that story,” she said.  “And more importantly in each other. It brings them together and in the end they celebrate the whole.  That is part of the magic that an audience perceives.”

Indeed, community is at the heart of Schafroth’s work and vision. “I try to use stories that are not only fun, but that have a message for all ages, from child to adult.”  Again this year is the fourth year of “Honoring Our Elders”, a special performance for local seniors.


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