When Ivonne Lemus toured in Swan Lake with the Ballet National of Cuba, she danced in various roles in more than 76 performances of this classical ballet in one year.
“Swan Lake is in my blood,” said Lemus, who performed with the professional company for 13 years.
Lemus has been a full-time ballet instructor with the Patel Conservatory since 2007, and is the Ballet Mistress for Next Generation Ballet. As such, she is training its dancers for their upcoming production of Swan Lake in May.
The title of Swan Lake is synonymous with classic, elegant perfection.
“It is a drama. It’s sad, but beautiful and lyrical,” said Lemus.
To create the refined gracefulness of the swans in the lake, the ballet corps must display precise symmetry, an enormous challenge for any ballet company. Dancers must have not only incredible technique, but very stylistic artistry.
Next Generation Ballet is staging this show with young, pre-professional dancers, but with no less precision or professionalism.
Lemus has been working hard in creating a ballet corp that will rival any professional company.
“To explain with my English how they have to look and feel on stage, everyone has to be one. Twenty-eight girls have to move their arms at the same height,” said Lemus in her heavy Spanish accent.
“We’re doing a lot here. It’s very professional, they’re training like a company,” said Lemus.
“Our program prepares kids to go to a professional ballet company and fit in as soon as possible in the corps. If you don’t do well in the corp, you don’t move up.”
NGB taking on Swan Lake in only its second year is an enormous undertaking, but one that Lemus says they’re ready for.
“We won Outstanding School last year [at YAGP]. We started in September and it happened by April, that is incredible,” said Lemus.
She has her work cut out for her. The story of Swan Lake is usually told in four acts. NGB will perform it in two. Lemus has watched several performances of this classical ballet including from Royal Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre. She’s studied hard in order to make sure the audience understands the whole story.
In the studio, the dancers work exhaustively six days a week. “The level of maturity needed is very hard. They have to know how to move their arms and heads to create emotion,” said Lemus. “It’s a big deal.”
She shows how arms in a typical fifth position are slightly tilted to emulate the movements of a swan.
After years of performing this classical, exquisite ballet, passing on her knowledge and expertise to our ‘Next Generation’ of dancers has been a privilege.