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Ballet Theatre Of Maryland Offers Quality Performance

Photo by Brian Lancione.  Ballet Theatre of Maryland Artistic Director Dianna Cuatto watches as dancers Joshua Burnham and Nicole Seitz rehearse the tango in preparation for the company’s upcoming performance.

By Darrell Mak

Originally founded in 1979, the Ballet Theatre of Maryland has been working hard over recent years to improve and expand its offerings of show performances. The theatre was considered semi-professional until around 2003 when it turned pro.

“Today, we are the only fully professional ballet company in the state,” said Dianna Cuatto, Artistic Director for the Ballet Theatre of Maryland. Cuatto said the theatre’s mission is to give Maryland a unique voice in the national scene for dance and to perform dances that represent Maryland culture.

Cuatto said in addition to its home location at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis, the company has performed throughout Maryland, including Baltimore, Bowie and the Eastern Shore. “We do a lot of outreach throughout the state,” noted Cuatto. “There are only one or two counties in Maryland that we haven’t been to.”

Cuatto said professional dancing is hard work. Despite the modest pay, dancers generally work six days a week, eight hours a day, doing exercises, rehearsals and performances. The Ballet Theatre attracts talent from diverse locations. “People from all over the U.S. train with the company,” said Cuatto. “Many choose to stay afterwards.”

In addition to performing for the public, the theatre devotes considerable time to supporting charities. It offers some free performances to support charitable organizations, such as the Boys & Girls Club of America.

The Ballet Theatre of Maryland is well known for its creativity in designing world premieres, which are brand-new or substantially reworked previous performances. “We create more world premieres than any other dance company,” said Cuatto, adding the audience is always craving “to see new things.”

The Ballet Theatre offers enticing, value-conscious packages. With the 2010-2011 season kicking off in October, it has cut prices to give the most-affordable season subscription ever.

The season commences in late October with Alice in Wonderland, which was voted by patrons as the most-desired performance. Cuatto’s challenge will be to make the classic tale come to life as a ballet. The rest of the season includes The Nutcracker in December, Romeo and Juliet in February, and Star Spangled Sketches, an early tribute to the upcoming bicentennial of the War of 1812, as the season finale in April.

In addition, Ballet Theatre of Maryland is continuing its collaboration with the city of Bowie for a premiere of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in October. The theatre also has plans to return to Wicomico County and Baltimore with Romeo and Juliet later in the season. 

Cuatto is beginning her eighth season as the theatre’s artistic director. In 1963, she began her career as a professional dancer with Ballet West and has since won numerous awards for her choreography with the Ballet Theatre of Maryland.

The Ballet Theatre of Maryland, originally named The Ballet Theatre of Annapolis, was founded in November 1978 as a private non-profit corporation. In 2000, the organization’s name was changed to Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Inc., to fulfill a new mission of serving the state of Maryland.

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