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Thursday, April 25, 2024

‘Swan Lake’ ballet inspires, Gainesville studio Dance Alive announces new cultural facility

Company performed 2 shows Saturday

<p>Saving Latin Press // Courtesy to The Alligator</p>

Saving Latin Press // Courtesy to The Alligator

Now 31 years after its first performance at the venue, Dance Alive Studios brought the timeless ballet “Swan Lake” back to the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts March 25. A recently announced facility is also helping Dance Alive turn the page into a new era.

Guest artists Oksana Maslova and Sterling Baca from Philadelphia Ballet were featured in the show, and Dance Alive principals Carla Amancio and Gabriel Lopes were featured in an earlier showing.

Although this rendition of the classic ballet won’t be too different from years’ past, the refined dancers of Dance Alive have trained to ensure they can to honor the standard of dance it requires.

Playing the main role of Odette is Carla Amancio, a lead ballet dancer who has worked with Dance Alive National for 16 years. Originally from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Amancio has performed a principal role in nearly every production Dance Alive has put on in her time with them — except “Swan Lake.” 

Now, it’s Amancio’s turn to shine for her first time in this full-length role — and she’s not taking it for granted. 

“For me, it has been a huge challenge,” Amancio said. “Also, it’s a dream, both for me and for my career.”

Rehearsals for the weekend showings began in January. Despite the slow, graceful swoops the ballet is known for, perpetuating high levels of energy are required to maintain the technique and musicality behind her performance, Amancio said.

“I hope all the dancers and I can show the history and the others can really feel the magic of this ballet,” Amancio said. “I really want to tell the audience a good history, and I want to make them evolve with me.”

Andre Vallaton, assistant to the artistic director of Dance Alive National Ballet has been dancing since he was 10 years old and professionally since he turned 18. Today, the 51-year-old dancer assists with production for shows like “Swan Lake” and is invited to perform during other shows.

This production is the biggest they’ve put on in 16 years, Vallaton said. Amancio and other ballerinas have been putting in extra work at the gym in recent weeks to execute the precision that’s required from seasoned dancers in “Swan Lake.” 

“Carla comes out of this show completely expanded,” Vallaton said. “It’s like running a marathon for her.”

Dedicated dancers like Amancio are what add depth and nuance to every performance. This moment will signal a pinnacle of achievement in Amancio’s career, Dance Alive National Ballet’s executive artistic director Kim Tuttle said.

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“She’s the quintessential swan queen,” Tuttle said. “She has a depth of artistic interpretation and a phenomenal facility for ballet that just puts her into a league of her own.”

“Swan Lake” was the first ballet that was performed at the Phillips Center when it first opened in 1992, Tuttle said. 

In 2023, just shy of three decades of catering to Gainesville’s ballet aficionados, Dance Alive has plans to give back to the family that’s supported it over the years.

After a five-year search for the perfect building, Tuttle and her team have purchased 5.5 acres on the corner on Northwest 39th Avenue and 34th Street. The dance company is beginning the process of building a 22,000 square foot home for Dance Alive, which will include a music and dance academy as well as a black box theater that it plans on renting out to non-profits. 

The project will hopefully begin breaking ground next Christmas, Tuttle said; but before then, her company must apply for multiple cultural facilities grants. 

The community must recognize the need for a facility like this, especially due to its projected location being on a main arterial road to both sides of the city, thus helping to connect both sides of town with equal opportunity, Tuttle said.

“Everybody experiences art,” she said. “But not everybody attains the highest level of that expression, where it is worked and it is crafted. It is labor debt to achieve the best that can be achieved within your ability.”

The ballet has been described as one of the most beautiful of all time.

“If you have a question of whether the arts mean anything, go see ‘Swan Lake,’” Tuttle said. “You will see that the arts mean a lot. They say a lot. They are a part of human expression that is indescribable. All you can do is see it.”

Contact Loren at lmiranda@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @LorenMiranda13.

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Loren Miranda

Loren Miranda is a second-year journalism major and a staff writer for the Avenue. She is also a copy editor for Rowdy Magazine. When she's not writing, she enjoys watching either critically acclaimed films or cheesy reality TV, no in-betweens.


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