The mission of the Canton area’s foremost dance company is tri-fold in nature.
The role of Canton Ballet in the community is to train young ballet performers, encourage the many talented dancers to perform in front of audiences and to inform members of the public about dancing through a variety of educational and entertaining outreach programs. In that, it has achieved commendable success.
“Under the leadership of Artistic Director Cassandra Crowley since 1981, Canton Ballet is now one of the foremost arts organizations in the state,” the company’s website, cantonballet.com, says, adding that Canton Ballet has been “an honor company in Regional Dance America since 1984.”
School Director Suanne Ferguson and board President Jane Bingham Fawcett founded Canton Ballet under the name Canton Civic Ballet in 1965, according to a website history.
“The company debuted with a performance for MacDowell Club,” recalls the history. In 1968, the first public performance of “The Nutcracker” was held at Timken High School to sell-out audiences.
“In 1970, John Begg of Cleveland became the first full-time artistic director with Ferguson as associate artistic director, and the ballet became a founding member of the Midwest region of National Association of Regional Ballet. In 1972 at the invitation of dean Jack Morehart, the new School of Canton Ballet opened at KSU (Kent State University) Stark with the CB as company-in-residence. In 1978, the school moved into the former First Christian Church downtown with offices at the new Cultural Center for the Arts.”
Performances by Canton Ballet, such as the annual “Nutcracker” in December, are held at the Canton Palace Theatre. Canton Ballet continues to expand as a training ground for serious dancers. This season, there are more than 35 junior and senior high school students in the performing company, and the ballet’s school has an enrollment of more than 300 students from small children to adults.
“Director Crowley continues to raise the artistic bar and each year strives to further enrich the school and the company technically, artistically and financially,” explains the ballet company’s website. “World-renowned master teachers regularly work with the faculty and the company, providing challenging learning opportunities and international experiences. Guest choreographers bring unique diversity of dance styles and teaching styles to expand both the repertoire and the experience for the company dancers. From the beauty of classical ballet to the debut of world premieres by acclaimed choreographers, the current season brings with it a rich, challenging and diverse repertoire.”
Canton Ballet’s upcoming performances:
December 13-15: “The Nutcracker”
March 7: “Touchdowns and Tutus”
April 18-19: “The Wizard of Oz”