A Future for Dance: Alabama Ballet gives inspiring dancers the chance to learn from the best

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Aspiring dancers throughout the state covet a chance to dance with the Alabama Ballet, but with only 33 years of history, the company is relatively new in the world of dance. So what makes the Alabama Ballet so appealing?

Easy. The Alabama Ballet offers dancers the chance to work with outstanding directors. In its beginning, the company followed the artistic direction of Dame Sonia Arova (previously dancing with the Original Ballet Russes, the Royal Ballet, and America Ballet Theatre) and Thor Sutowski, and then 15 years later, the leadership passed to Roger Van Fleteren and Wes Chapman. Today, Tracey Alvey serves as the ballet’s Artistic Director.

“I love everything about it. Everyone is very professional and we all get along very well,” says dancer Christy Delenick.

Studying musical theatre at Samford University, Delenick has been with the Alabama Ballet’s school for two years. In those two years, she has been privileged to dance in George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” and “The Sleeping Beauty.”

As a student, Delenick’s days and nights look much different than that of company dancers, keeping up with academic classes and homework as well as ballet classes and performance rehearsals. But the busy days are worth it. She couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn from the best.

Kelli Murdock, 24, began as an apprentice for two years and has now been a company dancer with the Alabama Ballet for the past six years. Unlike Delenick, as a full-time company member Murdock spends her days in and out of company classes and rehearsals.

It’s an all-day job, but it pays off. Murdock recently danced the role of the Lilac Fairy in the ballet’s rendition of “The Sleeping Beauty.”

“I feel so honored and blessed to have gotten such a role. I felt like I had more of a responsibility with this role because it was a Principal role,” she says. “I needed to always be prepared and it was a great challenge! I had to learn more mime than I was used to, but I loved every bit of it.”

Like Delenick, she shares the same positive outlook on the company.

“I love being apart of the Alabama Ballet. I think Tracey has done a terrific job at building the company’s repertoire and taking us in a great direction.”

Photos by Arik sokol, Billy Brown and Melissa Dooley