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Allegro

SERBA, and other regional festivals...

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Hi. I was just wondering if any of you have attended any Regional Dance America festival. I attended SERBA, and was curious to know if anyone else has. I am sort of wanting to talk about the evening performances...Sorry if this post isn't appropriate for this board! Thanks!

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Allegro -

I'm afraid I didn't see SERBA (who did, come on, speak up!) but discussing ballet performances is definitely on topic. Please tell what you saw; for a lot of us, this would be our only exposure to the regional ballet festivals.

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Yes! Very few of us get to see these festivals. If you're wanting to talk about the evening performances, we're sure interested in hearing about them.

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Thanks for giving me the go-ahead! :)

I attended SERBA with my regional ballet company, and had a great time! I liked the classes, but as always, the performances were the best! I can't remember ALL the performances, so I will just say the ones I really liked.

On the Emerging Choreographer's night, I enjoyed a piece ("Sweet Sorrow") that was danced by Louisville Civic Company. The choreographer won the Monticello (An award to the best female emerging choreographer) and it was danced by four girls with a woman playing the harp on stage. I also liked a really cute piece called "Down" that was danced by Gwinett Dance Ensemble. It was a humouous ballet about a plan crash. Alabama Dance Theatre did a piece called "Indigo", which was set to (I think ) Louis Armstrong's music. The closing piece was Atlanta Ballet Centre Theatre (I think that's the name, but I do know it was formerly Atlanta ballet II) and they did a really pretty classical piece, with gorgeous tutus and great technique.

The next night, Friday, wasn't all that memorable, but Ft. Lauderdale Ballet Classique did a nice to Moonlight Sonata. They had three soloists who did a good job, and the corp was very strong.

Our company was second to last on the Gala, so I didn't get to see much of the Gala night. We (Appalachian Ballet company) did a piece called "Glennies," choreographed by Alan Hineline, set to the music of the deaf percussionist, Evelyn Glennies. It went well, and the audience really seemed to like it. But I did a piece right before ours called "Diamonds," danced by Gwinett Ballet Theatre, and choreographed by Thom Clower. It was really good, but SO hard! At one point, the corps was doing laps around the back of the stage! They all were running on in the upstage left wing and running diagonally downstage right, then running behind the curtain to do it again!!!

Alabama Dance Theatre did Balanchine's Valse Fantasy, and I wanted to see it SO bad! But it opened the show, so I couldn't watch.

Thanks for listening to my review!

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Thank you very much for posting your review! I hope others were there and saw this and will add their comments. You really saw a good slice of American ballet -- it sounds like a good experience.

These festivals very rarely get covered even in the dance fest, so it's great to hear about them. More, please :)

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Originally posted by alexandra:

[QB]You really saw a good slice of American ballet....

I just wanted to say that I couldn't agree with you more. One of the things our ajudicator said when he came and saw us, was the importance of Regional Dance America. And the more I think about it, the more I agree with him. If REgional Dance America wasn't in operation, small town ballet wouldn't prosper and flourish as well as it is doing today. Festivals bring all these small companies together, give them the chance to keep in touch, give them a chance to improve by taking classes, give them a chance to show their talents (both dancing and choreographically) and give them a goal to work towards every year. It benefits all those who participate in festival, but it has far reaching consequences, also. Professional companies are also winners, because they are able to hire dancers who have already been exposed to high levels of technique and precision. If REgional Dance America wasn't in existence, then they would depend solely on dance academies (with some exceptions) to provide the dancers for their companies.

Regional DAnce America has built American Ballet to the higher level that it is at today, and it will continue to make it even better. Think about other countries, like Russia. Unless I am mistaken, they do not this nationwide program that we Americans have put into practice. WE are quite lucky!

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Allegro -

I think the RDA system is a benefit to American dance; it allows regional companies to interact and find out what others are doing, and it helps professionalize them. It's a good thing. I'm not sure, however, that I would go so far to say that it gives us an edge over other countries in training. I think even without a Russian Regional Dance Association, they've produced some at least passable ballet dancers! :)

Good to see you're doing Alan Hineline's work, didn't he set that on your company at some point last year? Who were your adjudicators? Finally, will most of the companies be able to perform these ballets before a general audience as well as at the festivals?

[ 04-25-2001: Message edited by: Leigh Witchel ]

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I don't think I made myself as clear.... I really wasn't saying that we had a leg up on the Russians (no pun intended.) What I was intially saying is that the organization of RDA is something to be proud of, and I know, from my experience, that our company wouldn't be at the level we are at without RDA.

I'm glad we did Alan Hineline's work also. It was great to be able to work with him and have him set a ballet on us. It is nice to have him now before he is out of our reach. I have a feeling that he will be very successful. His piece was really cool. It was very challenging, and different from anything I have ever done. There are three movements, (all to percussive music) and between the first and second and second and third, this other girl and I run out in the silence and do a duet in the silence.

And yes, to my knowledge, all of the other companies in SERBA dance their pieces at other venues than SERBA. We did all the pieces we ajudicated in previous shows.

And our ajudicator was Richard Dickinson.

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Hello-

I can't agree with everything that Allegro said simply because I didn't see a lot of the pieces because the company I'm in, the Gwinnett Dance Ensemble, performed two of the three nights. It was my first time performing at SERBA and I really enjoyed it! I only got to watch the last four or five dances on the Emerging Choreography night because we performed "Down" as the opener to the second act. I really enjoyed most of what I saw that night, especially a piece by the Gwinnett Ballet Theater that was on pointe (maybe Allegro can help me with the name... I don't know where my program is). It was very modern/contemporary and they were just very clean, which always impresses me. I also enjoyed Atlanta Ballet Centre's piece, however they did a piece very similar on the Gala performance. Both pieces were on pointe and the choreography was good and they had a very large corps that was very strong. However, it bothered me that both of their pieces only seemed to show off their high leg extensions and multiple turns. I would have liked to see more... perhaps artistry (I'm not sure if that's the word I'm looking for...) It just seemed a little monotonous, although I was impressed.

I didn't see any dances on Friday night because we were second to last dancing our modern/ballet piece called "Chant," and, as far as I know, the piece and our company seemed to be appreciated and people seemed to be impressed.

Gala night really was very impressive, a great mix of classical ballet, modern, contemporary ballet, and then some other stuff. It was very enjoyable! I must say- I really enjoyed Glennies- big compliments to Allegro. She told us she danced in silence but her and the girl with her danced that perfectly, it was all synchronized and their was no time where they were not together. The pointe-work (sp?) I could tell as a dancer was very difficult and to be able to be so together without music just really impressed me.

Overall- from what I saw the pieces were great!

Scottie

[ 05-03-2001: Message edited by: ScottieGDE13 ]

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Thanks for that, Scottie, and also to Allegro for your additional comments. It's very good to be able to read about these groups and choreographers -- anyone else go?

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My company's not part of SERBA, but we're in RDA's pacific region...we're leaving for festival (which is hosted by Utah Regional Ballet) noon today (wednesday). After I get back, on sunday, I'll post a review of how the performances went. Our adjudicator was Deborah Dobson.

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WOW! Pizza9.... I am very sure that a ballet company from Utah is doing the exact same piece that we did for SERBA. Look for it. It will be second to last on the Gala, and it is called Glennies, and it is choreographed by Alan Hineline. HE originally choreographed it for us, but then went and set it for I believe, Utah Regional, or something like that. He added a pas de deux and a male solo, but other than that, it is the same. Look for two girls en pointe that do 2 duets in the silence. That is what I did, at our SERBA, which BTW, was on the gala and was second to last, just like Utah.

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Allegro- yes, Utah Regional did do the piece Alan Hineline choreographed- it was really cool. Everyone loved it- should have been Gala closing. The choreography was interesting and untraditional, and the dancers were great (of course, they ARE a professional company). Anyways, Alan Hineline won the award for the best choreographed piece, or whatever it's called.

Utah Regional, after the opening speech, performed Balanchine's Serenade. Of course, the dancing was very good.

Other favorites- some dancers really liked Long Beach Ballet Theatre's "Atmadja" which was an emerging piece- it definitely had it's strong points, but the beginning pas was done with the couple in the center, dancing on top of a large piece of chiffon(with 4 corps girls on the side holding the sides and making waves with it). It reminded me of Arabian in the nutcracker. I thought the chiffon was unnecessary, it didn't add anything to the dance and it caused the couple to trip and make a couple of mistakes. For the most part, the dancing was good, nice and clean, but then they threw in a section where this one guy did a roundoff back flip and 2 guys did russian leaps and it got too flashy and gymnastic-y.

Columbia Dance Ensemble's "Fly Right" was amazing! It was one of my favorite pieces. The music was by Nat King Cole (Straighten Up and Fly Right, Orange Colored Sky, Almost like being in love, thou swell), and it was really cute. The couple- Kristin and Spenser were so cute dancing together, and not only was the choreography good (fit the music very well), the dancing was clean and simple. It was kind of jazzy. It was in the workshop performance, but it got bumped up to chamber credit.

Bay Area Youth Ballet closed gala with Balanchine's LaSource. It was clean and everything, but there just wasn't the kind of excitment that some other pieces exuded. [sentence deleted]

The classes were pretty good, but one classroom at Utah Valley State College was freezing cold, and when I was rehearsing in there, I absolutely couldn't breathe (partially because I had a hard time adjusting to the altitude...I live practially at sea level...). The basketball courts where they put down marley was a sprung floor but fairly hard. It was frustrating having to wait for buses to take us from the college back to the hotel, which the ride took about 5 minutes, 15 to walk, and to BYU which was about 20 minutes away.

Oh, and one last thing, before the gala performance, the announcer said a prayer...it was just really strange for me...I'm not Mormon and I'd bet a lot of the dancers aren't either...it was kind of offensive to me, but then again we were performing at BYU.

[ 05-14-2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]

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At our SERBA we also had problems...the director who was hosting SERBA liked to talk about God a lot. Which generally, I don't mind, because I am religious, but it just wasnt the time or place, especially in light of everything that was going on. BTW, lots of people thought we should have closed GALa, but oh well. And for some strange reason, they didnt' give out the "best choreography" award that they give out every year, and is put on the national register, but I think our piece would have gotten it. And that is so cool that Utah danced it, being a professional company, after it was made on us! I feel so special.... :)

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Hi! I, and I'm sure others, have really enjoyed reading these posts about the performances, but to avoid conflict, I think it's best that we not characterize companies (their behavior, training, etc.) and use the rule for dinner parties: avoid discussion of religion and politics :) Please stick to the performances :) Thanks!

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Continuing with my review...Crockett-Deane Ballet (who joined RDA just last year) performed a piece called Mozart's Razor, and part of the time, they danced with razor scooters. My friend from the company told me about it beforehand, so I wasn't surprised by the scooters, but I think the rest of the audience got a kick out of it. The scooters didn't play a prominent role in the choreography, though, just occasionally, dancers would ride across the stage on one, doing an arabesque or attitude. I did like how they choreographed a little turn section, with one foot on the scooter and turing on one wheel (and that they didn't just limit it to gliding across the stage).

Penisula Dance Theatre (Washington) did a piece called "The Conversation". The music was a mix of this guy with a booming voice speaking in German and various sounds, which some other dancers said were gunshots. The stage was barely lit, so we could only see an outline of the dancers on stage, but the lights (I'm not sure what they were but they weren't the traditional lights) were such that the audience could see each other. I could totally see everyone in front of me watching the dancers. It reminded me a lot of the Stalin purges and other people said it reminded them of the Holocaust. Nobody I talked to understood the German, except that we did hear the words "Acid Rain" a couple of times (which is why some thought it was about the Holocaust). Someone else told me that the purpose of the piece was probably to make the audience think- that's why the audience was brighter than the stage so we could reflect about ourselves while watching the piece...

Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre's piece, Cancoes, was choreographed by Armando Duarte, who was our adjudicator last year. It was a modern piece and the steps were simple but fit together well. I didn't watch the whole thing, since I had just performed in the piece before it and I had to get changed. I thought they did a good job, especially considering that 8 of the dancers that were there last year have moved on, either graduated or gone off to companies, and other ballet schools.

For the emerging choreographers' concert, Crockett-Deane Ballet did a piece called Kulanjan. It wasn't really classical ballet, but not modern either. It was just really stylized ballet, I guess. One of the lead girls, Linda, really has stage presence, even when she's doing a simple step. We saw her dance last year, and were so awed by her stage presence.

Our company, South Bay Ballet, performed a piece called Tri Six 5,6 to music by Tchaikovsky. It's a neoclassical ballet and we opened on Gala night. I think we did fairly well, no one fell or made any major mistakes, as far as I remember, and I've heard that several other directors were impressed by the ballet. Our director, however, thought it could have been better (don't they always?!)

The stage at BYU was a good stage to dance on. It was larger than the one we usually perform on. The front edge of the stage, though, was really slippery even though there was marley (probably because no one usually dances on it). One girl, during the Long Beach Ballet Theatre's piece, slipped while dancing in that part and then because the floor was so slippery there, she slipped again and fell down.

I enjoyed watching men's class, although I was slightly disappointed by the level of dancing in it. There were 3 guys, 2 from California, 1 from Utah, that were really good- they had nice pointed feet, straight legs, clean lines, etc. Then there were about 3-4 (from my company) that weren't as clean but were able to pick up the steps and execute them. There were (I don't know exactly, but...) around 12 guys that probably hadn't been dancing for very long. A couple of them weren't able to pick up the combinations, which made one of the teachers kind of mad. Then a couple were also trying to do double pirouettes even thought they could barely do a single. The class was probably moving too quickly for them, and it wasn't really their fault- they just haven't danced for very long or whatever. One teacher, Attila Ficzere who teaches at the Univ of Utah, was teaching men's class one day and his biggest correction was for a double assemble- instead of being straight up and down for the jump, to be on a tilt like in a revoltade. The guys I talked to said that makes a huge difference.

I didn't get to see the honors class taught by Yoko Ichino, but I heard that it was very good. I did watch pas de deux class- each company sent 1 or 2 girls and all of their guys. Some companies didn't send any guys (even though they had some), but my company sent 6 guys and 2 girls. Alan Hineline who taught the class, lined up the girls by height and the guys by height and paired them off. I've heard that they're cautious about having pas class at festival because once before a guy dropped a girl and she was injured badly and couldn't dance. IMHO, I think each company should send couples, that way the guy and the girl would have had some experience dancing together previously, but I know that some companies don't have any guys and it's not really fair that they don't get to have a rep. at pas class. The class was very simple- they mostly worked on pirouettes from fourth and promenades.

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It is really cool hearing about your festival...

Who were your other teachers? We had OK one this year. Simon Dow was our first ballet class, in a freezing gym, early Thursday morning, and he did a great, slow, placed class. It really warmed us up in spite of the cold. Then we took a jazz class with Ashlie Solomon, who takes at Broadway Steps, and she is going to do ABT Georgia's summer program. She was so much fun, and we did a really fun jazz dance. To tell you the truth, I can't remember our other classes all that well, but we had many other teachers who were good. Kathy Thibideaux, the artistic director of Ballet Magnificat taught a fun class, as usual, but I was very disappointed that I had to leave it early because of our tech rehearsal.

I wish we had a pdd class, and although I don't think I would be the one to go, it would still be fun.

What about your audition class? Did you take it? Or do you even have them? we have a class where 109 girls and guys tried out for many scholarships they were giving out. I didn't get one, but it still was a good experience. They cut about 65-70 people in the middle of it, and I am glad I made that cut, even if I didn't get any money.

I could go on forever about the shows, and I already did somewhat, so I'll stop here.

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I didn't go to the audition class, we had one for the Craft of Choreography Conference and one for scholarships to summer programs. Ron Cunningham (AD of Sacramento Ballet) taught the Craft audition (I didn't see it, but I auditioned last year and I liked his class. He moves quickly through barre- expects you to be fairly warmed up before audition class). One correction that he gave that I thought was neat was for dancers who habitually look down. He told us to "look for the birds"- i.e. not look down. I still remember that...

Steve Brule taught the scholarship audition class- I didn't get to see it either, but I watched him teach men's class. He seemed like a good teacher and I know some guys who worked hard in class trying to impress him.

I took ballet technique from Attila Ficzere (who now teaches at the Univ. of Utah), Jonas Kage (the AD of Ballet West) and Darla Hoover (who teaches at CPYB). I enjoyed Attila Ficzere's class the most, probably because he did a lot of pirouettes at the barre and center and grand allegro in the center. Jonas Kage was an okay teacher, but he spoke in a very soft voice and some of us couldn't hear him. Darla Hoover (who also taught our pointe/variation class) was an interesting teacher as well, except that she insisted that we cross our fifth positions all the time, even if for some reason we couldn't be as turned out as possible (if we weren't warm or whatever). One interesting correction she gave us was that when dancing on stage, dancers tend to pull their weight back. (Our class was on the BYU stage that day). She told us to think about staying forward on our legs so we wouldn't fall backwards.

Jeffrey Gribler (who taught ballet at the Choreography Conf. last summer) and Alan Hineline (who was the director of choreography at the Conf. last summer) also taught ballet technique, although I didn't get to take their class this year. I did watch Jeffrey Gribler's class, and he's a fun teacher to take class from.

I didn't take musicality class (taught by Jerome Begin) or modern class. I think it's so interesting watching class- you can learn a lot by watching other dancers. One dancer that I liked watching in class is Britnee Colledge Squires. She doesn't necessarily have the highest extension or whatever, but she's consistent and very clean. The Utah Regional Ballet girls (not the ones in URB II) wore their pointe shoes for class. One thing that always bothers me when watching performances is the arms. (My arms are kind of funny, particularly in turns) Some girls and guys break the line of their arms at the wrist and it's very noticeable. Another thing that I didn't particularly care for was how some guys (I don't know if any girls did this) would start a pirouette with their arms in an oval shape and then bring them in closer. I know they do that because it helps accelerate the turn, but I personally like having them in position (a nice round circle) for the whole turn.

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Scholarship and audition class...same thing.

Did you go to Craft of Choreography last year? If so, you might know our director. She went last year.

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Yes, I went to the Choreography Conference last year- I've probably met your director. For anyone who doesn't know what it is- it's a 2 week program...dancers take a ballet class and a modern class each day in the morning. Then after lunch, dancers are assigned to choreographers and rehearse with them until dinner time. After dinner, everyone performs the new works. The choreographers take 1 class a day (either modern or ballet depending on which one they want to take) and then have a choreography session, where they learn about different techniques, using music, etc. Each choreographer is given an assignment, like to use the theme of falling, or use the lyrics of the song for inspiration, or don't use any ballet steps (which is usually given to choreographers who choreograph only ballet). They're also given a piece of music (it varies from Vivaldi, to Peter Gabriel to Phillip Glass, etc).

It's a good experience for dancers because they get a chance to learn what it's like being a professional dancer and having to perform each night and also to work on being able to pick up new choreography quickly. For the choreographers, it's a chance for them to choreograph something totally different from what they're used to and learning to work quickly if needed.

I've gone to the conference 3 times, once at the Univ. of Utah and 2 times when it was held at the Univ. of Texas, Austin. It will be held at the Univ. of Texas, Austin again this year. I forgot who the director of choreography will be- in Utah, it was Armondo Duarte, and in Austin (the past 2 times) it was Alan Hineline. Their job is to share ideas about choreography and stuff and to dole out assignments. The director of music is Jerome Begin (who was also there the past 2 times). He works with the choreographers on music, teaching about how to count music (especially music that isn't in straight 4's or 8's). The director of ballet this year is Thom Clower. He's the AD of Yuma Ballet Theater and he's a really nice and charismatic teacher. The director of modern is Lyn Elam, who teaches at the Univ. of Tx, Austin- she's a great teacher as well. This year, I think they're also going to have jazz.

I'm not going this year, but I think it's a good experience for dancers...It's also neat to watch the other dancers and new choreography. And definitely valuable to be a part of the choreographic process.

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My directors name is Amy Moore Morton...you might know of her. She did a percussive piece last year, and that's all I remember. I would love to go to the choreography conference. It has to be so much fun. But, I am not a lightning learner, so I might be thrown out! :) Thom Clower is a great teacher. His classes are really fun. He is going to be at our festival and be a teacher. I love him.

Tell me the pieces you were in at the Craft of Choreography!

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Yeah, I do remember Amy Moore Morton. I didn't get to work with her, though. Supposedly, each dancer is supposed to work with a different choreographer each day...although there are times where the choreographer has a two-day assignment, so their dancers wouldn't perform on one day. That's how it was the first year I went. The second year, there were a lot of choreographers and not enough dancers. So we had to double up- dancers worked with 2 choreographers in the afternoon, and would show one of the pieces tonight and the other one tomorrow night. This year, there was enough dancers for the choreographers, but for some reason, Alan Hineline, the director of Choreography, decided to give the choreographers extended assignments. The first choreographer I worked with was Melinda Howe, from CPYB. That was a 1-day assignmnet, meaning we performed that day. We did a piece that she choreographed for the students at CPYB. The 2nd choreographer I worked with was Jamie Rossner, who was only 16 at the time. She choreographs for Georgia Youth Ballet. She set a piece to African music which was a totally new experience for her. I think she was used to only classical ballets. That was a 2-day assignment.

The 3rd choreographer I worked with was Melinda Howe again. I don't remember what her assignment was, maybe not to use classical ballet steps? That was a 3 day assignment, so we worked on it on friday, saturday, monday and showed it on monday. Then the 4th choreographer I worked with was Sandra Organ(sp?) who I think used to dance with Houston Ballet... She had a 4 day assignment, which we performed after the 2nd day, just as a work-in-progress and then on the final night of the conference. She was a tough choreographer to work with because she could do amazing (modern) things herself, and maybe didn't realize that we couldn't do exactly what she did. Plus, I think she might be used to working with older dancers/professionals or whatever and some of the dancers in the piece that I was in were fairly young and they didn't have that experience in learning quickly or duplicating what the choreographer wanted.

So, over the 2 weeks, I only got to work with 4 choreographers, which I felt jipped. The first year, I worked with 8 choreographers (had a couple of 2 day assignments), 2nd year I had 10 choreographers( but it was 2 per day) and this last year, I only had 4.

It really is a cool thing to do...even if you're not a super fast learner. It's also cool to see the other pieces- I remember a classical ballet that was set to music by Vivaldi. I really liked it. Also, you get to watch different types of pieces, that you might not get to see normally...like the african piece.

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do you have to be invited to be a choreographer at the craft of chor. confrence? can anyone do it? if so...how? thanks in advance.

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I think anyone who wants to go to the conference as a choreographer can, as long as you've choreographed something before- you send in a videotape of some previous work (I think generally, they do accept everyone). You don't have to be invited.

The same with dancers- all you have to do, if you're an RDA member, is send in a photo in arabesque (although I've heard that some dancers don't even send one in). If you're not an RDA member, you have to send in a video tape of yourself dancing.

For more info, you can go to www.allegroballet.com The AD of allegro ballet of Houston is the director of the conference, so if you have any questions, you can email her.

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