December 1, 2022


Art and Entertainment

Ballet company’s roots go back 50 years | Local News

Ballet. Debbie Menichino Parou phone calls it “the most difficult training you will ever acquire.”

And but, mainly because of her, basically hundreds of neighborhood young ones — ranging in age from preschoolers to substantial faculty seniors — have finished up loving it.

At present, Parou is acknowledged as the founding creative director of the New Castle Regional Ballet, which is probably very best recognized for its annual holiday getaway generation of “The Nutcracker.” On the other hand, the nonprofit organization’s roots go back again 50 percent a century, when Parou commenced the Menichino School for Dance in 1972.

“My emphasis then was jazz and tap,” she recalled. “I did educate ballet, but I did not have ample teaching in ballet to do it effectively enough.”

She remedied that by commencing her official ballet instruction in New York, then continuing with instructors from the Cleveland Ballet, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, the Chicago Ballet,, the Pittsburgh Theatre, Ballet Detroit and even the Bolshoi Ballet.

In 1980, she was the only American recipient of the Cecchetti Council of American Ballet Scholarship for the ongoing examine of ballet.

“So I love ballet, but it took me a few several years to discover it suitable,” she mentioned. “I researched until I was 39, taking classes. But in the approach, more than that interim when I got much better, I improved the college to the Parou Ballet School. So it grew in levels.”

At first, she tackled smaller sized ballet productions, but when she longed to do larger types in more substantial venues, she commenced the nonprofit Parou Ballet Company, and later on, the New Castle Regional Ballet.

“What I did was type a nonprofit and a board of administrators that was in charge of the artistic ballet part of the software, all performances,” she stated, “to help youngsters get costuming, to provide in specialists to do the job with us, so the young children didn’t have to pay for it.

“I held the college, but they kept the artistic close. They would use my dancers, but aid fund them. Now, I’ve handed everything around. The full method is nonprofit. There is no faculty they took the complete point.”

Parou nevertheless sits on the board of the nonprofit and is thought of the artistic director. Nevertheless, “I have seven of my learners now who are essentially running the system.”

One particular is Elissa Houk Cowher, who remembers not staying certain she wanted to stay about when her mom signed her up for ballet courses at age 3.

“I wouldn’t say I beloved it at the commencing,” Cowher reported, “but I think it was simply because I was so shy. My mom experienced to dance with me the full first yr in the class.

“But then I arrived out of my shell a minimal bit, and I fell in adore with ballet. and thanks to Debbie, I had a fantastic foundation, appropriate schooling and suitable strategy. Her passion goes to all of her dancers and instills a whole lot of great matters in them.”

Ultimately, Cowher went off to Grove Town Faculty and continued her coaching. She started to help Parou with teaching when nevertheless attending Grove Metropolis, and acquired to love that facet of ballet, as perfectly as choreographing.

“She seriously put a lot of religion and have faith in in me when I most likely did not definitely know substantially was I was doing, but she guided me,” Cowher claimed. “This isn’t what I believed I’d do with my lifetime. I didn’t feel I was likely to be a ballet trainer, a director, a choreographer. But which is how it labored out, and I’m so thankful that Debbie put her rely on in me and that she guided me towards this.”

Parou’s achievements stories are a lot of.

Natalie Desch, for instance, went on to research at the Juilliard Faculty, and graduated with greatest honors. She went on to dance skillfully with Jose Limon, a popular New York organization. She is now an assistant professor of dance at the University of Utah.

Then there’s Samantha Kennedy, who earned a master of fine arts degree at Smith College or university and has been the chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at SUNY-Fredonia since 2017.

Getting a different path was Dr. Michaelyn Tinstman-Notz, who serves as the professional medical director at Geisinger Clinical Middle for small children with numerous clinical troubles and technology dependence a pediatric hospitalist at Janet Weis Children’s Medical center and as director of osteopathic professional medical instruction for Geisinger.

Those kinds of stories should not surprise everyone, in accordance to a different NCRB creative director and former Parou student, Lori Scheidemantle.

“Ballet is not just about dance, but you are offering them lifelong classes,” Scheidemantle mentioned. “That’s a little something Debbie has usually taught us, that what you discover now will have via — the self-control to know that nothing at all is handed to you, that you have to perform really hard and set time and effort into everything.

“You learn time management, mainly because ballet is not like you arrive in just one working day a 7 days and you do some thing. It is a repetitious dancing. You have to maintain executing it and carrying out it. The benefits appear from the time that you put into it.”

That lesson, even extra so than the efficiency, is what Parou has strived for.

“Not every person has the suitable physique for ballet, but they all want it,” she explained. “My aim is to give them the equipment through this course of action to find out what it can take to perform tough, to earn some thing, for a discipline and for a functionality that you have to strive for.”

Each Cowher and Scheidemantle concur that Parou has been arrived at that purpose correctly 12 months after year following year.

“I imagine Debbie has touched the life, not just of the dancers, but of so numerous very little children, even with ‘The Nutcracker,’” Scheidemantle reported. “They arrive, they see it as a spouse and children tradition, and probably some of them start to desire ‘Maybe I could dance like that sometime.’”

Cowher echoed individuals sentiments.

“There are hundreds — maybe thousands — of learners that she’s touched, and she will under no circumstances know or hear from them what she did for them,” she stated. “But there are students — myself bundled — whose life would not be what they are now devoid of her.”

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