SAINT MARY'S HALL MEETS THE DANCER

BY AMY L CHARLES | TEACH & TRAVEL MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2017
 
 


Saint Mary’s Hall group on stage with soloist Unity Phelan
 

Saint Mary’s Hall believes in providing opportunities students cannot find anywhere else. Annual dance trips are part of its offerings, thanks to a group of dedicated dancers who love to learn. Bethany Bohall, the Wanda Wiley Atkinson Director of Fine Arts, Tobin Fine Arts School, is starting her 10th year at the San Antonio, Texas, establishment.

 
Bohall learned of the Meet the Dancer opportunity at New York City Ballet through Educational Performance Tours and Margie Wolf, who helped arranged her group’s experience, which was supported by the att ending dancers’ families. Twelve dancers in grades six through nine participated, along with their parents, two Saint Mary’s Hall ballet faculty and Bohall.

Leading the Meet the Dancer session for Saint Mary’s Hall was soloist Unity Phelan. Meet the Dancer begins with a chat in the Orchestra section of the David H. Koch Theater, home to the New York City Ballet, where Phelan talked a bit about the performance the group would be seeing — including what to look for and what to listen for. She gave a brief history of the construction of the theater, designed to look like a jewelry box with the ballerina spinning in the middle, and its symbols; she also spoke about a typical “day in the life” of a dancer and what her schedule is like.

From there the group was taken backstage, where they saw where the dancers warm up; they were then ushered onstage to take a photograph and see the theater as the dancers do. Throughout this group adventure, the Saint Mary’s Hall cluster was encouraged to ask questions and take photos.

“Our students loved it!” Bohall said. “Seeing our tour leader in Sleeping Beauty was the highlight!” The Saint Mary’s Hall group loved being able to take photos onstage and see behind the scenes, making their trip that much more special. What will be remembered most is that their tour was conducted by one of the dancers who was in the production. “It was very exciting. The students loved finding Unity Phelan onstage during the performance. It was doubly special as 20 minutes prior to our tour, she had been promoted to soloist! It was exciting for the dancers to hear her story and be part of such a special moment. I think we knew before her mother did!”

Through the experience, Bohall and the Saint Mary’s Hall students and faculty were inspired in the love of dance by professional dancers. “If your students love dance, they will love this opportunity!”

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