North Star Ballet twirls after receiving an honor from Governor Mike Dunleavy’s office. The school was recognized as Alaska’s 2021 Outstanding Arts Organization in the Governor’s Arts and Humanities Awards.
North Star Ballet Executive Director Samantha Reynolds called the recognition an honor.
“Being recognized as an Outstanding Arts Organization at the state level is validation that our programs, the expertise and dedication of our instructors, the support and governance of our Board of Directors have not gone unnoticed,” said Reynolds said via email Wednesday.
The Governor’s Award recognizes that ballet plays a vital role in the greater Fairbanks area.
“Most students pursue other careers, but their North Star experience gives them valuable preparation to understand and appreciate the arts, as well as life skills such as time management, self-discipline and teamwork. “, indicates the price.
North Star Ballet was launched in 1987 and for over 35 years has played a leading role in the world of indoor performing arts. Today, it enrolls 200 students per semester, most of them 18 or younger. The Creative Ballet Movements program introduces between 85 and 105 children aged 4 to 7 to the world of dance each semester.
Reynolds said the ballet company offers a number of services, including creative movement lessons for children as young as 4 and its comprehensive eight-year basic ballet program for students ages 8 and up. more.
Reynolds said auditions held over the past 35 years have introduced more than 90,000 students to ballet.
The school also offers contemporary dance training and more informal ballet lessons for recreational dancers.
Reynolds said the only disruption to operations was the pandemic during the 2020-21 season, but the ballet managed to adapt gracefully. In-person performances were canceled in 2020 and spring 2021, but returned with a fully masked “Nutcracker” in person later in 2021.
“North Star Ballet faculty pivoted quickly at the start of the pandemic to offer classes via Zoom, which allowed our students to continue dancing, even though the circumstances were less than ideal,” Reynolds said. “Then, when the state started to reopen, we offered virtual/in-person hybrid classes to make sure we were respecting the different comfort levels of our families.”
The organization offers two performances a year: An annual winter performance of “The Nutcracker” and its spring gala, featuring “a range of plays, from fairytale ballets to contemporary choreography, always with the aim of attracting and educate young audiences.
Artistic Director Courtland Weaver said the Governor’s Award is “a feather in our hat” and reflects the support shown by the Fairbanks community.
“Every investment in North Star Ballet, whether through tuition for children or support from businesses and individuals, is important because we provide a very important service in this area,” Weaver said.
Weaver added that the award reinforces the direction North Star Ballet is jumping in.
Reynolds and Weaver said a defining milestone for the organization came in 2017 when it moved from the Tanana Valley State Fairgrounds to its current location in Craftsman Yard on Westwood Way.
“Coming into Artisan’s Courtyard has really allowed us to increase the number of classes we can offer and the rehearsal time for our business, as well as shorten the prep time,” Weaver said.
Going forward, Weaver said North Star Ballet would like to increase its presence in schools and expand its offering to the North Pole.
“It was really helpful pre-pandemic, especially for creative movement and pre-ballet students, because they don’t have to drive all the way to Fairbanks from the North Pole or Eielson for an hour-long class” , Weaver said.
Weaver also wants to collaborate with other local and national dance organizations, as well as make more use of the Artisan’s Courtyard space.
“At some point we’ll have to think about additional staff as we get closer to the capacity we can teach,” Weaver said.
Going forward, Reynolds said, the ballet intends to continue its role in the community.
“A vibrant arts community adds to Fairbanks’ appeal to residents, professionals and businesses,” said Reynolds. “Arts education improves academic achievement, stimulates creativity and encourages innovation in students. »