On any Saturday morning, there is a place hopping with excitement: The New England Civic Ballet (NECB) located at 274 S. Broadway, Lawrence. Children of all ages gather for a 45-minute class that hopefully will take them to the lead role of some of their productions. The first surprise is finding so many Latino families, including three fathers waiting for their little girls to finish the morning class.
The school offers classes in tap, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical jazz, partnering classes for men and women who are advanced dancers, and ballet for gentlemen, designed for boys from middle to high school interested in ballet without any previous training. At present, NECB has 90 students from 18 cities and town in Massachusetts and 10 in New Hampshire.
“The first thing Isabella tells me on Saturday mornings is ‘I’m going to ballet class today,’” said Jose Mejia of Methuen. His daughter has been attending for about five months and she is hooked on dancing.
“I have my three children here,” said Manuel Cintrón. “Amber is 12, Katrina is 10 and Coral is 5 years old and they all love it.” Mr. Cintrón explained that they were attending another school in Peabody but, when the family moved to Lawrence, this school was more convenient and they are very happy with the training they are getting.
Luis Espinosa, a teacher aide at the Storrow School in Lawrence cares about exposing his 3-year-old daughter, Kenya, to all kinds of experiences and learning ballet at this school has been great.
History of NECB
The New England Civic Ballet (NECB) was formed in the Fall of 1996 to bring professional ballet to the Merrimack Valley. Their goal is to provide opportunities for the many gifted, well-trained, local dancers, both children and adults, to perform major and supporting roles in professional ballet productions without committing themselves to a company affiliation.
The NECB school, a completely separate endeavor, provides intensive training in a comprehensive range of dance forma, building students’ foundation to help them further pursue their dreams of performing. A community arts endeavor, NECB retains no base company, but casts through open audition. The company’s expanded 2003-2004 season includes its annual production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker and a spring performance of a new production of Cinderella.
Upcoming show The Nutcracker
The school is now getting ready for the traditional presentation of The Nutcracker at the Rogers Center for Performing Arts at Merrimack College on December 12 through the 14 for four performances. This production brings together the best talent from other ballet schools in the area wishing to participate in their Sunday rehearsals.
The leading role of Clara will be performed by Jacklyn Walsh of Tyngsboro, Massachusetts; the Sugar Plum Fairie is Jessie Mazzaglia of Haverhill, and the Nutcracker Prince is Alan Lemanier, a Merrimack College student.
“The beauty of this show is that we have between 40 to 50 volunteers, usually parents, who handle everything for the show,” said Christine McCarthy, a member of the board of directors.
The same recruitment takes place beginning January. Ballet students from any other ballet academy are welcome to audition for Cinderella. The audition will be on January 11 and the show will be on March 28 and 29.
Ms. McCarthy also explained that they would love to have more Hispanic dancers on that show, particularly older girls and boys from surrounding cities and towns.
Phyllis George and Roshni Pecora founded NECB. Ms. George began receiving recognition of her accomplishments in ballet at the age of 12 when she received a Carnegie scholarship for summer dance education. She was a member of American Ballet Theatre in New York City during the 1970s and with the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes. She has been teaching locally for over twenty years.
Ms. Pecora began dancing at a very young age. She studied with Asaf Messer and Yuri Chatel (Bolshoi Ballet), Jill Silverman (American Ballet Theater), Andrew Pap (University of the Arts), and Adrienne Hawkins (ImpulseDance). While in high school, she received scholarships to the Bolshoi Ballet Theatre dance program in Chicago and the University of the Arts Summer Dance Program in Philadelphia, PA. She has been teaching dance locally for ten years and she currently dances occasionally with ImpulseDance of Boston.
New England Civic Ballet is a non-profit corporation, funded through corporate foundations and private donations and grants, including those from the Lawrence Cultural Council, The Stevens Foundation of North Andover, The White Fund and the Charlotte Home, both of Andover.