2018-07-19 / Opinion

Raising Newport’s Cultural 'Barre'

To the Editor:

On many a summer night, I have sat outside the studio at 3 Charles Street, with its open windows and doors, listening to the downbeat clapping count of a dance teacher. I’ve spied dancers spill out onto the fire escape platform in search of a slight breeze to fan their bodies. It is a Degas-esque sight, as strains of various musical genres waft through the air. It is an image I savor, and it feels like home.

To this day, my memories center around dance, the first ones originating from my former studio in Philadelphia, providing me with incomparable life experiences. I sought to find something similar for my daughter: unparalleled and novel performance opportunities; an environment where truly any ability level or professional aspiration (or lack thereof) is encouraged; an education where a dancer’s mind, body and spirit are nurtured; a home away from home. This is what we found with Island Moving Company and Newport Academy of Ballet.

When I discovered NAB several years back as a possible studio for Emma, it was a godsend. Coming from North Kingstown, I had no idea the gem we had unearthed so close by. The glorious sunsets we witness during our drive over two bridges never cease to impress. The charm of Newport continually welcomes. And, somehow, having a connection to IMC/NAB allows us to proudly represent and enrich part of Newport’s cultural landscape. Our young dancers have pirouetted in the grand rooms of the Rosecliff mansion, jetéd on the docks of the Oliver Hazard Perry Tall Ship and participated in IMC’s Open For Dancing Festival in some of the most picturesque Newport locales. They have performed alongside professionals, emulating and complementing them simultaneously. Their hours in the studios for classes and rehearsals familiarize themselves with one another like family, where support, trust and confidence are the norm. IMC and NAB represent a source of life wealth. It is a home, and it is theirs.

These are just a few of the intangible gifts that IMC and NAB continue to bestow not just on the performers but on patrons, audience members, tourists and families alike. To countless many, IMC and NAB are a vehicle of consistent talent, tradition, innovation, inspiration, passion, and sense of community and home. As a mother, I am forever indebted to artistic director Miki Ohlsen, IMC and NAB for our family’s memories.

We are a part of a new generation that hopes to grow the IMC/ NAB legacy by expanding its Newport presence within the city and beyond, with the desired Triplett School acquisition. We hope to raise Newport’s “barre” of cultural education and offerings. Please support the dance school and company as it moves into the future.

Hannah Overly
Saunderstown

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