Baton Rouge artistic staple will soon change leadership
BATON ROUGE - The Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre will soon see a transition in leadership.
After working with the theatre since 1976, artistic directors Molly Buchmann and Sharon Mathews plan to retire. Sunday was the last time the duo held auditions for the annual 'A Nutcracker - A Tale from the Bayou.'
Little feet in pink tights and ballet slippers scurried into place, like the hundreds of performers before them. High school sophomore and company member Claire England reminisced on her early ballet days.
"It's sweet being here at auditions and seeing the eight and nine-year-olds, and I was once them," England said. "They're doing all the roles that I loved to do."
Between audition slots, Molly Buchmann expressed her gratitude and excitement for the future of Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre.
"We feel like we have accomplished something, and we're leaving it in really good hands," Buchmann said.
The non-profit organization was chartered in 1960 to promote dance across Baton Rouge. In 1992, Buchmann and Mathews created their own Nutcracker story, unique for Louisiana.
"When we started this was a once-a-year sort of pick-up organization," Buchmann said. "Now it's one of Baton Rouge's leading artistic agencies."
The program has boomed in popularity, pulling in hundreds of performers. Sunday's audition brought in 200 dancers. Company member Isabelle Lieux says she's grateful for the experience and community.
"It's really special," Lieux said. "I'm really close with a lot of my teachers. To be apart of their legacy means that a part of them gets to live through me."
Buchmann says the legacy she helped to build has touched many lives.
"We have a legacy of young people who have grown up here some have become dancers. we have a number with wonderful, professional careers," she said. "Many have gone on into so many other things: homemakers, law, teachers, medicine, nursing, accounting, physics, chemistry. As think back on dancers I can think of all those different professions that they've gone into."
'A Nutcracker - A Tale from the Bayou' will hold performances Dec. 16 and 17 at the Baton Rouge River Center Theatre for Performing Arts. For more information to purchase tickets click here.
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