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First annual fundraiser a huge success!

February 3, 2024

Members of the HGCBT Board of Directors, Artistic Director Claire Jones and Choreographer/Rehearsal Director Justin Rustle greeted a happy and inquisitive blend of local supporters, members of the regional dance community, and Montgomery County Councilmember Marilyn Balcombe, Saturday afternoon at Essence Studios in Poolesville. After conversation and hors d’oeuvres, the audience observed a master ballet dance class led by Mr. Rustle, featuring many of Essence Studios and HGCBT advanced dancers. Many in the audience got their first exposure to the degree of effort, dedication and precise training that is required to dance ballet with elegance, artistry and power. After the class, Poolesville High School sophomore Sava Brizhik performed the Prince Variation from Cinderella, choreographed by Justin Rustle, exhibiting a maturity and level of expertise that went well beyond his years. 

Tickets to the event brought in a modest amount of contributions. However, after the master class, demonstration and testimonials by the dancers, our guests were inspired and very generously contributed to this program that does so much to nurture, support and develop the youth that participate in HGCBT productions. 

HGCBT unveils Spring show!

February 3, 2024

Artistic Director Claire Jones and Choreographer/Rehearsal Director Justin Rustle unveiled the title of HGCBT’s spring production at HGCBT’s First Annual Fundraiser. The dancers and audience were all thrilled to learn that the show will be “Fairy Tales in the Park featuring Cinderella!” Act one will feature out younger dancers in individual pieces based on a wide variety of favorite stories. Act two will be a condensed version of the famous ballet “Cinderella” reimagined and staged by Mr. Rustle. There will be shows at 12:30 and 5pm on Sunday, June 3rd, performed at the Whalen Commons bandshell in Poolesville, Maryland. Following the tradition of providing accessible dance to the community,  the performances will be free and open to the public. HGCBT will accept donated food items at the performance to support WUMCO. 

So mark your calendars for this FREE performance of “Fairy Tales in the Park, featuring Cinderella,” Sunday, June 2nd, 2024 at 12:30 and 5pm at the Whalen Commons bandshell in Poolesville, MD!

HGCBT and Essence Studios offer a month of free African dance classes for the community

February 2, 2024

Essence Studios, Dance & Performing Arts has, for the second year, opened it’s doors to the youth in the community, offering free African dance classes each Friday evening during the month of February. The classes are conducted buy guest teachers from Maryland Youth Ballet, as part of their Black History Month Celebration, with the classes provided at Essence via Zoom on the studio’s large screen portable TV. Some of the dancers first experienced African dance in February 2023, the first year that Essence hosted these classes. The exhilarating instruction was inspiring and the students enjoyed the classes so much that one on the instructors, Heinz Adjikwa, was hired as a guest choreographer to create an Afro/Modern fusion dance celebrating Kwanzaa that was part of HGCBT’s holiday production “ A Winter’s Eve,” performed last December. 

HGCBT and Riverworks Arts Center support the MYB program through donations, and HGCBT Board members help manage the classes. These classes go from 7:30-9pm each Friday in February 2024 at Essence Studios, and can be attended by anyone above the age of 10. Dancing is done in bare feet and loose fitting, comfortable clothing. 

“A Winter’s Eve” celebrates holidays and diversity

December 16, 2023

On December 16 HGCBT presented "A Winter’s Eve" to packed audiences at the Bender JCC in Rockville. The production was truly a celebration of holidays and cultural observances from around the world, uniting a Christmas classic with an adaptation of a British holiday story, to present broad cultural representations of the joy and love of the holidays. 

Act One featured Artistic Director Claire Jones’ original adaptation of Raymond Briggs' illustrated classic "The Snowman." In Jones' version, a young boy discovers that his snowman has come to life, and he shows his chilly companion what life is like in his home. The Snowman and boy are filled with wonder as the Christmas tree ornaments and the boys toys come to life! The snowman then whisks the boy across the globe, marveling at a celebration of Diwali in India, Hanukkah in Israel, and Kwanzaa in West Africa, all presented in authentic dance styles created by several gifted guest choreographers.

Act two featured excerpts from the timeless and traditional ballet, Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” as envisioned by Choreographer Justin Rustle. The dancers transport the audience into Clara's dream, to experience the Land of the Sweets brilliantly danced by Cecilia Zeranski as our Sugar Plum Fairy, Sava Brizhik as the Cavalier, Alarica DeLongchamp as Clara and Elizabeth Tchorni as the Flower Queen.

Audiences loved the variety of dance, and many were moved by both stories' shared sense of joy, and the global diversity in how we celebrate love and light!

CLICK HERE for more information, photos and the program

HGCBT provides opportunities for our struggling neighbors to experience dance

December 16, 2023

One of HGCBT’s primary goals is to make dance performance available to the entire community. But the cost of a ticket can be a barrier to participating for many people of our community. With this in mind, HGCBT set aside a total of 35 tickets for each performance of “A Winter’s Eve,” and made arrangements to provide several organizations with free tickets to distribute to those with interest but not the means to attend. For the second year, complimentary tickets were sent to Gaithersburg Family Services. Almost 40 seats were filled with enthusiastic families, eager to experience a holiday performance. 20 tickets were also made available to WUMCO Help, an assistance program located in Poolesville, that serves those in need in Western Upper Montgomery County. 10 tickets were also provided to St. Andrews Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of Silver Spring, providing Ukrainian refugee families with an opportunity to experience joy and celebration. 

CLICK HERE for more information on HGCBT’s efforts to provide access for all

HGCBT dancers light up Poolesville’s holiday celebration

December 1, 2023

The first Friday evening of December is a magical time in Poolesville, as the community gathers on Whalen Commons to officially launch the holidays. Once again, dancers from Essence Studios, Dance & Performing Arts and HGCBT took the stage, and took the breath from the huge, festive audience. Three dances from “A Winter’s Eve,” HGCBT’s holiday production that would be performed two weeks later, were unveiled. The fun and energetic “Mother Ginger” was followed by Sava Brizhik and Kendall Zimmerman’s flawless, languid performance of “Arabian” from the Nutcracker. The advanced dancers then performed “Magical Night Wind” from Artistic Director Claire Jones’ original adaptation of The Snowman. The energy, grace and sophistication of the number stunned the crowd and elicited a huge, spontaneous roar of applause. It was a magical moment for audience and dancers alike!

HGCBT conducts community auditions for “A Winter’s Eve”

September 9, 2023

In an effort to make HGCBT and dance performance more accessible to the youth of the community, HGCBT for the first time opened auditions for a main stage production to the youth in the region. “A Winter’s Eve,” was performed December 16, and three of the dances in this original production will feature authentic dance from multiple cultures from around the globe. Guest choreographers were hired to create new work designed to celebrate holidays from multiple cultures, including Israeli dance celebrating Hanukkah, Indian dance celebrating Diwali, and Afro/Modern fusion, celebrating Kwanzaa.

Many dancers from Essence Studios auditioned, as well as several other enthusiastic dancers from the community. All the dancers will rehearse on Saturdays and select other days throughout the fall, leading to the show on December 16th at the Bender JCC in Rockville.

HGCBT receives impactful arts grant from Montgomery County

July 10, 2023

Upon reviewing a lengthy and detailed grant application, the Montgomery County Arts and Humanities Council elected to award Hope Garden Children’s Ballet Theatre a Programming & Capacity Building Project Grant in the amount of $7,350. HGCBT’s efforts to maximize inclusion and diversity, and the message of universal celebration of the holidays by multiple cultures in the fall production “A Winter’s Eve” convinced the grant committee to provide funds to pay for guest choreographers, authentic costumes and expanded promotion of the show. The HGCBT Board of Directors hope that this grant will become a staple of the annual funding needed to produce their holiday presentation. 

HGCBT dancers open “A Taste of Riverworks”

June 10, 2023

On June 10, 2023 the "A Taste of Riverworks" festival kicked off at the soon-to-be Riverworks Performing Arts Center, located at the old Methodist Church in historic downtown Poolesville, Maryland. the program began with a mini performance by dancers from Essence Studios, Dance & Performing Arts, featuring classical ballet, hip-hop and contemporary jazz pieces, including the premiere of a new work, "The Persistence of Memory," choreographed by Essence Studios student Cecilia Zeranski!

A large crowd of art enthusiasts of all types were thrilled and supportive of the younger dancers, and stunned by the precision and artistry displayed by the advanced students. Ms. Zeranski's intricate piece was brilliant, and showed remarkable maturity and imagination, especially considering the choreographer's age.

CLICK HERE for more information and photos

Successful silent auction will support future HGCBT productions

July 10, 2023

HGCBT loves our community, and the community apparently feels the same way about HGCBT! Throughout April and May of 2023 HGCBT Board members reached out to businesses in the Poolesville region, looking for donated items or services that could be auctioned off at the Taste of Riverworks festival on June 10. These businesses enthusiastically provided a wide variety of auctionable items and services, ranging from original artwork to jewelry, free art classes to a broad range of gift certificates. Bidders wrote their bids on sheets provided for each item, with the top bid winning the item when the auction closed at the end of the festival. The generosity of our local businesses and our bidders provided HGCBT with funds that will be used to purchase costumes and build set pieces for both of the next HGCBT mainstage productions. HGCBT LOVES THIS COMMUNITY!

Free performances of “Leaping Off the Canvas” blend dance and fine art

June 3, 2023

On June 3, 2023, HGCBT showcased the students of Essence Studios, Dance & Performing Arts, providing the Poolesville region with two wonderful opportunities to experience one art discipline, based on another! 

The theme and title, "Leaping Off the Canvas," took inspiration from a wide variety of famous artworks, including paintings by Degas, O'Keefe, Monet and others. The sixteen pieces of the first act were all original choreographic works featuring ballet, jazz/contemporary, tap and even hip-hop, danced to a broad range of music, from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” to pieces by Dolly Parton, Lady Gaga and Beyonce! 

Act Two featured an original interpretation of Act 2 of the ballet classic "Coppelia," choregraphed by Artistic Director Claire Jones, in the spirit of the classic Bolshoi version. The fun story and crazy characters gave the dancers a wonderful chance to show the enthusiastic audience their acting and storytelling abilities. Poolesville High School senior Anna Porch gave a stunning farewell performance as Swanilda, Emma Pioli brilliantly performed the crazy role of Dr. Coppelius, and Kate Borman dazzled as the mechanical Coppelia Doll. 

The large audiences, full of new faces, made it clear that the northwest region of Montgomery County is enthusiastic for the performing arts, and that HGCBT will be doing its part to fill the unfortunate void that exists here for years to come!

CLICK HERE for more info, photos, and the program

HGCBT partners with Riverworks Arts Center to create outdoor dance floor

MAY 10, 2023

Early in 2023 Riverworks Arts Center was refining their plans for the renovation and conversion of the historic 1820s Methodist Church on West Willard Road into a the state-of-the-art performing arts center and gallery space. Through discussions with HGCBT Board members, Riverworks founders Sandy Wright and David Theriault determined that plans for a small outdoor stage would be upgraded to a 16 foot by 32 foot stage, large enough for small and medium dance performances. But in order to be a functional dance stage, the surface needed to be a “sprung floor,” a surface that gives under impact, providing dancers with the cushion needed to protect their joints and ligaments from repeated percussion. It was agreed that Riverworks would supply the materials, and HGCBT would supply the design and labor to create a system of movable panels that would lock together on the stage, creating the only outdoor sprung floor in Montgomery County. 

Partially funded by the proceeds from the “Small and Tall Ball,” a community dance for children and their parents, Riverworks also purchased a brand new Harlequin marley floor, a special rolled out vinyl surface that provides the proper amount of grip needed for many dance styles, including ballet.  

After months of planning and fabrication, the floor panels were assembled on the outdoor stage, the marley was rolled out, and Essence Studios and HGCBT dancers Anna Porch, Sava Brizhik and Cecilia Zeranski tested out the new surface, dancing and leaping at first with hesitancy, but then with enthusiasm and freedom, as the floor proved to be everything they needed to feel comfortable and safe. The new floor was unveiled to the public at the Taste of Riverworks festival, which included a variety of dance numbers from the HGCBT 2023 spring production, “Leaping Off the Canvas.”  


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