American Midwest Ballet announces opening of its new school

OMAHA — March 3, 2019 — Artistic director Erika Overturff has announced American Midwest Ballet’s plans to open an official school.

Susan Chowning, director of Motion41 Dance, will join American Midwest Ballet’s staff as school director. The studio’s co-director, Matthew Lovegood, will continue in his role as ballet master of the professional ballet company.

Chowning and Lovegood’s west Omaha dance studio — which has served as American Midwest Ballet’s rehearsal space since the company’s founding ten years ago — will become the initial site of the new school, Overturff said.

When the time comes, the company and school operations will be consolidated within American Midwest Ballet’s future home, the Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center in Council Bluffs, with Motion 41 eventually phasing out its operations.

The new $27 million, 95,000-square-foot facility, now under construction, will offer exciting opportunities for the professional ballet company and the school’s students.

“Our company and school will be housed in a state-of-the-art performing arts center, brimming with everything from music lessons to art exhibits,” says Overturff.

“People will be immersed in creativity from the moment they walk through the doors.”

While classical ballet training will be at the heart of the program, the school’s offering includes classes in a variety of styles including jazz, tap, and contemporary dance.

American Midwest Ballet School will include an academy division focused on developing high levels of technical skill, as well as a community division with a wide range of classes for children, teens and adults,” says Chowning.

Faculty members will include current American Midwest Ballet professional dancers and former professionals with extensive teaching experience.

“A great dance teacher can have a huge positive influence on a young person’s life and development,” says Overturff. “We can’t wait to begin encouraging and inspiring the next generation of young dancers.”

Registrations for American Midwest Ballet School open April 15, with classes beginning July 15.

American Midwest Ballet, formerly Ballet Nebraska, brings the beauty, athleticism, and energy of professional ballet to audiences in the Midwest and beyond. Performing at home and on tour, its mission is to provide enrichment through programs of the highest quality: professional dance performances, educational programs, and community outreach.

The Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center, scheduled to open in 2020, is a project of Pottawattamie Arts, Culture and Entertainment (PACE), a nonprofit organization dedicated to forging a robust cultural environment by creating a new comprehensive arts center and forming alliances with performance partners.

Erin Alarcón’s wonderful Wizard takes home an OEA Award

Erin Alarcón in "The Wizard of Oz"

American Midwest Ballet’s world premiere production of Erin Alarcón’s The Wizard of Oz was named 2019’s Outstanding Local Dance Production at Sunday’s Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards. Congratulations to Erin from everyone at AMB for this well-deserved recognition!

“I am grateful to every single individual who had a hand in bringing this vision to life, and in turn sharing the magic of this story with others,” said Erin, who both choreographed the full-length story ballet and danced the role of Dorothy in the production.

When The Wizard of Oz made its debut in May 2019, Erin said it fulfilled an ambition she had nurtured for 25 years.

“I was five years old when I performed in the Lullaby League,” she recalled. “Every memory I have of that production, from rehearsals through performances, is filled with an overwhelming sense of joy.

“It has been a dream of mine to choreograph The Wizard of Oz for as long as I can remember.”

Part of the spectacular ballroom scene in The Wizard of Oz. “I wanted this ballet to be done in the style of my favorite classical ballets,” choreographer Erin Alarcón said.

One of American Midwest Ballet’s most recognizable dancers, Erin is known for roles ranging from the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker to the tragic heroines of Swan Lake and Giselle. She also is the creator of critically-acclaimed short ballets including “One in Three,” a powerful statement about violence against women, and Season 9’s saucy, French-jazz-inspired “Bricolage.”

This week, Erin and her fellow American Midwest Ballet dancers will be back at work, beginning rehearsals for our season finale, Swing, Swing, Swing! It’s a homecoming of sorts for Erin, who first performed the ballet during her apprentice season in 2010 — proving that in ballet, as in the Land of Oz, there really is no place like home!