Tag Archives: Johnstown Concert Ballet

Ballet plans for ‘Holiday Homecoming’

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

Members of the Johnstown Concert Ballet are hoping to resurrect, in their own unique way, an event that once was an annual holiday tradition for many individuals and families in Johnstown.

Back in the day, an event known as the Mercy Lee Hospital Charity Ball used to take place at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in downtown Johnstown the day after Christmas. The event was “put together by an energized team of volunteers representing two of the major healthcare facilities in town,” said Rosemary Pawlowski, a consultant for the Johnstown Concert Ballet.

“The profits were split but the good times were universal,” Pawlowski said.

Johnstown resident Andy Fedore said he remembers the ball as a smashing success, and one of “the most exciting nights of the year in Johnstown.” Back then, Fedore was working for one of Lee Hospital’s corporate divisions and, as such, began regularly attending the event.

“Everybody went, really,” Fedore said. “It was a giant crowd, fluctuating anywhere between 2,000 to 6,000 from year to year. It was always wonderful.

“Families came with children and grandchildren. You could rent a table, set it up, and all night people would go from table to table visiting old friends and enjoying the company of their relatives.”

Fedore also mentioned that a rock band and a big-band-sounding group provided live entertainment, so people had the opportunity to dance the night away.
To his knowledge, the ball came to an end around 1992.

“Many people were sad to see it end,” Fedore said. “So many people looked forward to getting dressed up and getting together like that every year.”
That’s where the Johnstown Concert Ballet comes in. 

This year, Fedore and Pawlowski, along with other volunteers, are working together to “promote a comeback” of the popular holiday tradition formerly known as the Mercy Lee Hospital Charity Ball.

True to form, on the day after Christmas, Johnstown Concert Ballet will host a “Holiday Homecoming” inside the Art Works building at 413 Third Ave. in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood. The event is scheduled to take place from 8 to 11 p.m. Dec. 26.

Tickets for “Holiday Homecoming” must be purchased in advance, as reservations are required. Tickets are available online at www.johnstownconcertballet.org.

As was customary practice for the Mercy Lee Hospital Charity Ball, guests will be invited to decorate their own tables from 1 to 3 p.m. that afternoon, and guests should also plan on bringing their own foods and beverages to enjoy and/or share.

“Johnstown Concert Ballet is not attempting to match the size of the charity ball, but hopes to create a venue where friends can gather to dance and enjoy the company of friends and others,” Pawlowski said. “This is another special event to promote the mission of Dance Works.”

The Johnstown Concert Ballet is currently pulling together its resources to create the JCB Dance Works in the former Hornick Sporting Goods store in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood. The Dance Works vision includes a Center for Dance and Movement, which will serve as not only the home of the Johnstown Concert Ballet, but also a place where many genres of dance and workshops dedicated to building healthier bodies for peoples of every age and condition will take place throughout the year.

Fedore said that he’s looking forward to this event, and hopes that people who used to attend the Mercy Lee Hospital Charity Ball will consider attending “Holiday Homecoming.”

“It will still be a bring-your-own-everything type of event,” Fedore said, “and music will be provided by Brian Wolfe (of 96.5 KEY), who will play multi-era dance music all night.
 
“People can bring in trays of food and cookies, dance and just enjoy each others’ company. I’m sure it will be a night to remember.”

Johnstown Concert Ballet to perform 52nd ‘Nutcracker’

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

The Johnstown Concert Ballet is set to perform Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus.

Friday evening’s performance is to begin at 7:30 p.m., while the Saturday matinee is to begin at 2 p.m
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This year marks Johnstown Concert Ballet’s 52nd performance of “The Nutcracker.” Artistic Director Carla Prucnal said that presenting this classic ballet to the community is always a treat.

“People really do look forward to this — it’s a Christmas tradition,” Prucnal said. “There are always children in the area who have never seen it, and their parents are anxious to expose them to the ballet and ‘The Nutcracker.’”

Prucnal emphasized that the performance is a “big deal” for children — those in the audience and those on stage.

“So many students started in our company after seeing and being enchanted by ‘The Nutcracker,’” she said.

“The Nutcracker” features more than 100 dancers, some as young as 5, and some representing Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Prucnal said that everyone has been working hard to make the performance as professional and memorable as possible.

“We’re very pleased with our dancers,” she said. “We’ve worked very hard to get this production on the road.”

The performance even features appearances by community members such as Alan Teich, an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown who has, for many years, played the role of Father. And Karen Soliday, who works at the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Convention & Visitors Bureau, has played Mother Ginger for decades.

“Everyone does such a wonderful job,” Prucnal said. “I think everyone realizes that the standards we set are really high. This performance is a big deal for our dancers. 

“When our students and our company members work as hard as they do, and we spend so much time working on costumes and sets, we feel confident that we’ll be offering the community a beautiful performance.”

Prucnal said that she hopes that people will purchase tickets and enjoy the performance of “The Nutcracker.”

“I know people in Johnstown love to take part in the parade and light-up night downtown,” she said. “‘The Nutcracker’ is another way to make everybody feel like they’re participating in a traditional community Christmas event in Johnstown.”

Tickets for the performance can be purchased in advance by calling 814-269-7200 or visiting www.johnstownconcertballet.org online.

Tickets are also to be available at the door.

‘Some Like It Haute!’ to raise funds for Dance Works

Facebook event page photo
Facebook event page photo

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

Johnstown Concert Ballet is hosting a wearable art fundraiser that will help support new ventures in the ballet’s journey to offer premier dance classes and performance opportunities to people in the community.

The fundraiser, “Some Like It Haute!,” is scheduled for Oct. 26 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Bottle Works—Arts on Third Avenue, which is located in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood. The event is to take place inside the Art Works building.

Money raised from “Some Like It Haute!” will support ongoing renovations to ballet’s newly acquired building along Broad Street, which is scheduled to become The Center for Dance and Movement. The building was formerly Hornick’s Hardware.

The Center for Dance and Movement will be the site of Dance Works, a nonprofit organization that will focus on transforming the lives of people of all ages through the power of dance.

cut-haute

The vision for Dance Works is to invite dancers of all ages and backgrounds to be enriched by dance through classes and workshops. The genres of dance that are to be offered include, but are not limited to, classical ballet, contemporary dance and folk dance. Conditioning clinics and a proposed training site to educate professionals about the wellness that emerges from dance, as well as movement programming, are also in the works.

“The nonprofit has received grants from Community Initiatives of the Community Foundation of the Alleghenies to begin the restoration of the building,” said Rosemary Pawlowski, a development consultant for the ballet. “Cosmetic improvements have been made and a corps of artistic folks continues to decorate the windows as a visual announcement of forthcoming events.

“Since Dance Works is the new kid on the block and we are gathering resources for the renovation, the decision was made to present special events that would call attention to Dance Works, to the power of dance and movement and add some fun stuff as well.”

“Some Like It Haute!” is to feature original pieces of jewelry, couture and body fashion created by professional artists and designers. The event will also feature models, ballerinas and performances by The Hat Ladies (Marsha McDowell, Pat Holifield) and The Silhouette Lady (Bonnie Resinski).

“I’m calling this Johnstown’s mini New York Fashion Week,” ballet committee chairwoman and “Some Like It Haute!” event coordinator Rebecca Brubaker Roberts said. “We’re going to offer a runway show unlike anything Johnstown has seen before. The models are going to look very edgy. Think New York Fashion Week. Think otherworldly.”

“The clothing is just fantastic, and it’s also very approachable.”

Many of the featured runway items, which will be made from all different types of materials, will be made available for purchase.

“Not only will a lot of the stuff on the runway be for sale, but the designers will also be taking custom orders,” Roberts said. “These are items that you can’t purchase inside any store or shopping mall. It is all uniquely crafted, wearable art. There are a lot of people in Johnstown and the surrounding area who appreciate both the uniqueness and the love of art that’s put into creating these pieces.”

In addition to a variety of refreshments, artisan food is to be provided by PRESS Bistro, and Bishop McCort String Ensemble is to provide dinner music. Zack Becker will serve as DJ throughout the rest of the evening.

Featured artists and designers who are participating in the fundraiser include: Lisa Mull of Davidsville; Thomasa Pridgen of Johnstown; Jude Ernest of South Pittsburgh/Mt. Lebanon; Amanda Brown of Somerset; Barbara Kabula of Indiana; Chere Winnek-Shawer of Indiana; Crista Verhovsek of Johnstown; Joy Knepp of Somerset; Lorraine Adams of Brownstown; Katy Dement of Swissvale; Tina Williams Brewer of Homewood; Laverne Kempt of Pittsburgh; Sandy Trimble of Indiana; Erin Glessner of Somerset and Bridget Mayak of Somerset.

Models include: Kristina Marinkovich, Shamykka Roebuck, Ivanna Pannebianco, Emma Noonan, Aditi Nigam, Keiko Durst and Susan Danchanko.

Roberts used to be a model herself, so she’s taking what she learned in the industry and giving the models some helpful tips and tricks.

“I did runway work for 10 years,” Roberts said. “I worked with designers such as Oscar de la Renta and Geoffrey Beene. So I’m making sure that, in working with these girls, they’re really going to be able to show these creations in the best possible manner on the runway.”

Dancers from JCB who are also participating in the fundraiser include: Madalyn Barnes, Alexandra Barnhart, Abigail Rose, Taelur Vargo, Taylor George and Ashley Jeschonek.

In addition, Mark Ed, as well as representatives from the Pennsylvania Academy of Cosmetology, will be on hand to work on hair and makeup.

Roberts said that everyone involved is working hard to ensure that the event will be a memorable one.

“Everybody is donating an incredible amount of time into putting this fundraiser together so that Dance Works can get off to a very good start,” Roberts said. “This is a real opportunity to enjoy a great evening out for a good cause, and even bring home something that you would not be able to purchase elsewhere.”

Seating is limited and all-inclusive tickets are on sale. Tickets can be purchased online by visiting www.johnstownconcertballet.or or by calling 814-243-2224.

“The Wearable Art Fashion event is designed to provide a great evening of entertainment and a showcase for creative fashions, but most of all, to raise awareness of Dance Works,” Pawlowski said. “With the limited seating and innovative concept, we anticipate that this exciting fundraiser will be a sold-out event.

“The creativity of this region’s artists knows no bounds. However, we often miss much because the artist takes his work to a level that is considered unsaleable or extreme, which fits perfectly with the criteria for this show. The committee has commissioned smart, haute and edgy, head-to-toe art that will challenge attendees to consider what, to them, is a ‘fashion fit.’”

Roberts said she’s excited about Dance Works and the potential it has.

“Dance Works is going to provide for the needs of Johnstown’s citizens,” she said. “It has been proven that dance and movement are extremely beneficial for people of all ages and skill levels. It’ll be nice to have this in our community.

“A rising tide lifts all boats. Seeing everyone work together to create sensational opportunities like this one only enhances the experience of living in our area.”

For more information about ballet, visit www.johnstownconcertballet.org.

Concert ballet to perform ‘Snow White’

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

Johnstown Concert Ballet is preparing to present “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” as part of the company’s annual spring performance.

“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is scheduled for April 16 beginning at 2 p.m. at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus.
“We did ‘Beauty and the Beast’ last year, and that was a major performance for us,” Johnstown Concert Ballet Artistic Director Carla Prucnal said. “‘Snow White’ is very similar to ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ and we’re doing the entire full-length ballet and holding true to the traditional tale of ‘Snow White.’

“We like to vary the ballets that we do each year, and we try to do a full-scale ballet that appeals to both adults and younger people.”

In addition to “Snow White,” the company, which consists of more than 100 dancers, will also perform two additional ballets for audience members. Prucnal said she hopes that the performance is well attended.

“We’ve been busy,” she said. “The girls have been working so hard. Most of them gave up their Easter vacations to work for hours at a time at the studios, working and preparing for the ballet. I really hope that their efforts are not unappreciated; I hope we receive a good audience who appreciates their local artists and how much time and effort they’ve put into this.”

Prucnal said that, as always, she is looking forward to offering community members a professional ballet performance.

“We’ve built up quite a following of people who love ballet,” she said. “There are people in Johnstown who love ballet and really appreciate seeing something on a polished level.”

Tickets are not available online, but rather can be purchased at the box office or at the door the evening of the performance. For more information, call the PPAC at 814-269-7200 or visit www.upjarts.org.

Hockey game to feature play during intermission

Submitted photos Three of the performers for the “Pucks and Pirouettes” show at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena. Kneeling is Rachael Morgart; the hockey player is Boston Bradley and the dancer is Emily Stewart. 
Submitted photos
Three of the performers for the “Pucks and Pirouettes” show at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena. Kneeling is Rachael Morgart; the hockey player is Boston Bradley and the dancer is Emily Stewart. 

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

Members of the Johnstown Concert Ballet will perform alongside youth hockey players representing Cambria County Student Hockey League in a short performance titled “Pucks and Pirouettes” during the second intermission of the Johnstown Tomahawks hockey game at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena on March 18.

“Pucks and Pirouettes” is a love story that begins at a hockey game, and it is serving as a “teaser” to the full-scale performance that the Johnstown Concert Ballet will present at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on April 16.

Carla Prucnal, artistic director of the Johnstown Concert Ballet, said she was inspired to create a hockey-themed ballet after noticing the excitement that the Hockeyville competition garnered late last year. She was also smitten by the love story of a local couple.

It helped, too, that Prucnal has always been a hockey fan.

“When I was a child, my father would take me to the Johnstown Jets hockey games, and even when there was no room, I’d end up sitting on his lap,” Prucnal said. “My father was very devoted — he and his friends went and sat in the same section every time. It was a time when hockey games weren’t on TV, and the only way you got to see them was to attend in person at the War Memorial.”

Prucnal’s ballet career has allowed her the opportunity to not only work with ballerinas, but also wrestlers and football, basketball and hockey players.

“I’ve worked with many athletes in the area because their coaches recognized that ballet would make them supple and help them maneuver better,” Prucnal said. “The strength that is needed in sports is very obvious in dancers.”

Prucnal said that she’s excited for the opportunity to work in conjunction with the Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

“To my knowledge — and I’ve lived in Johnstown all my life — I’ve never heard of a ballet based on hockey, or a ballet being performed during a hockey game in Johnstown,” she said. “It’s going to be really exciting. (The audience is) going to see some interesting moves.”

Performers in “Pucks and Pirouettes” include: Emily Stewart, Taylor George, Tristin Kresak, Abigail Rose, Taelur Vargo, Ashley Jechonek, Lauren Anderson, Alexandra Barnhart, Meghana Gella, Penelope Lee, Morgan Lybarger, Racheal Morgart, Isabella Panebianco, Boston Bradley, Cole Bradley, Chris Miller and Will Miller.

Though their performance won’t last more than 10 minutes, Prucnal said that that’s what teasers are all about.

“We’re taking excerpts from the dances that we’ll be performing in the spring ballet,” she said. “It gives you a little bit of the story and makes you want to see the whole production.”

The “whole production” to which Prucnal was referring is scheduled for April 16 beginning at 2 p.m. at the arts center, which is located on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus. Tickets for the ballet are now on sale at the box office by calling 814-269-7200, and they will also be available at the door. Tickets are not for sale online.

For more information about the Johnstown Concert Ballet, visit www.johnstownballet.homestead.com.

“Pucks and Pirouettes” is being made possible by a grant from the Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance.

Ballet plans to show ‘Beauty and the Beast’

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

The Johnstown Concert Ballet will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a performance of “Beauty and the Beast.”

The one-night-only performance is scheduled to take place April 24 beginning at 7:30 p.m. inside the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center located on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus.

Carla Prucnal, artistic director for the Johnstown Concert Ballet, said that this is the first time that the ballet has ever performed “Beauty and the Beast.”

“We always try to do a full repertoire ballet, like ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘Cinderella,’ and of course we do ‘The Nutcracker’ every Christmas, but this is the first time we’ve done ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and it has turned out to be a really exciting project,” Prucnal said. “The members of the ballet are very enthused about it.

“Because it’s our 50th gala performance and my 50th year of teaching, we decided to do something that would involve every single member of our company. We are putting a lot of time and effort into the costumes and choreography. We’re so excited about it. This is the year to do a really wonderful piece.”

Approximately 100 dancers ranging from 5 years old to adult age — and even some community members — will take the stage.

“Most of the dancers have been working four or five days a week on the performance, and we’ve even been working in Pittsburgh every Sunday,” Prucnal said. “This is a full-scale piece and everyone is excited to be part of it. The young children love the fairytale aspect of it, and our primary soloists are incredible. We are so looking forward to it. Everyone who sees this is going to be in awe of the dancers’ technique and their abilities. We have so many gifted dancers.”

It will be a “very involved performance,” according to Prucnal, because it is a one-time-only event.

“This is something brand new that no one has ever seen before and I think it will be exciting to watch,” she said. “I know that even children are going to enjoy this . . . it’s a lot of fun. I think that it has been perfectly staged.

“This is a year that is very special to us. We have been working in the Johnstown area for 50 years. Our dancers are very committed to the company. They work very hard. The girls train all year and they should be appreciated for the work that they do. These girls volunteer their time and adore the ballet and have put every bit of their talent and effort into this. It’s going to be a showstopper of a piece.”

Concert ballet celebrating 50 years

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

Fifty years ago, Carla Prucnal of Johnstown founded the Johnstown Concert Ballet. Her goal was to bring classical ballet to Johnstown.
“The reason we put all the time and effort into organizing the ballet (was because) there was no traditional ballet company in Johnstown,” said Prucnal, who serves as the organization’s artistic director. 

“I had worked with the Pittsburgh Ballet and was seeing what was happening in Pittsburgh. It was considered a real art form and I wanted to start it here. Students wanted to study ballet in a serious manner, so I wanted to make that available to them. We give the students the chance to perform in an actual ballet and experience the most professional background in dance as possible. The Cecchetti method gives them a very professional background.”

Prucnal is a member-teacher of the Cecchetti Council of America, which exists to raise the quality of ballet teaching. It requires continual self-improvement and professional integrity of each member-teacher.

As the organization grew, so too did the number of students enrolled in ballet classes. Over the years, dancers in the organization have had the opportunity to dance with professionals, including those from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Point Park University.

“Classical ballet itself is so important,” Prucnal said. “Students gain tremendous self-confidence. They focus on the dance so well that it prepares them for life. They do well in school and they can focus on any project and walk into a room with self-confidence and look beautiful. Besides teaching them the art form, it gives them that self-improvement that they can’t get anywhere else. If you have a strong foundation in ballet, you can do almost anything and can do any form of dance if you have that training.”

Prucnal described the Johnstown Concert Ballet as a family-based organization whose dancers are as young as 4 years old.

“Ballet gives (the dancers) something to do with their families; we are an organization with a lot of family volunteers,” said the Carnegie Mellon graduate, who trained and performed with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. “We have many, many moms involved. We even have dads dancing on stage with their daughters. So many dancers come back and enroll their daughters because of the wonderful memories they have.”

Since 1966, the Johnstown Concert Ballet has staged performances of “The Nutcracker,” “Swan Lake,” “Les Sylphides,” “Cinderella,” “Coppelia” and “Alice in Wonderland.” 

This year, the Johnstown Concert Ballet will perform “Beauty and the Beast.” The one-night-only performance is scheduled to take place April 24 beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus.

The Johnstown Concert Ballet’s 50th Anniversary Gala weekend continues April 25 with a celebration dinner at the Pasquerilla Conference Center in downtown Johnstown. The dinner is designed to be a night of recognition, reminiscing, reunion and dancing. 

Those who cannot attend the spring performance or dinner but would like to make a donation to the Johnstown Concert Ballet can do so by writing a check made payable to “Johnstown Concert Ballet.” The JCB is a 501(c) organization; all donations are tax-deductible. Checks can be mailed to: Johnstown Concert Ballet, 1701 Pitt Ave. Johnstown, PA 15905. 

Money received from donations will help provide the funds necessary to renovate a historical building in Cambria City that will offer the organization a larger dance studio, costume room and set storage space.

Concert ballet to celebrate 50th year

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

This year the Johnstown Concert Ballet will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

The first celebration of this landmark achievement is a “Tea and Tutus” event scheduled March 29 from noon to 2 p.m. inside the Art Works building along Third Avenue in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood.

The event is suitable for ages 4 and older, and children younger than 6 must be accompanied by an adult. Lunch and refreshments will be served, and representatives from the Johnstown Concert Ballet will be on hand to answer questions about the organization.

Those who attend will not only have an opportunity to meet the ballerinas involved in the Johnstown Concert Ballet, but also dance and have their photos taken with them.

Additionally, each guest will receive a “golden ticket” that entitles the bearer to one free ticket and behind-the-scenes tour of the ballet’s performance of “Beauty and the Beast” scheduled for April 24 beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus.

Early registration is recommended.