Putting on a Show
Live entertainment to highlight
Showcase Oldham County
Ballet troupe has become
a popular Oldham County act
BUCKNER, Ky. (March 2013) – Although Village Dance Theatre is known for its ballet instruction, students learn more than proper techniques and how to participate in recitals. Instructor and owner Denee Bannister has created a mentoring program that is an important part of students’ lives long after they have left the school.
Denee Bannister's dancers
prepare to perform at
last year's Showcase event.
They have become a popular
show in the county.
Even though students perform at different venues, “we’re not a competition school,” said Bannister. “We’re a lot different.”
For the third year in a row, students from Village Dance Theatre will perform at Showcase Oldham County at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 9. This free business expo event is sponsored annually by the Oldham County Chamber of Commerce and will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Oldham County YMCA Soccer Complex, 20 Quality Place in Buckner. Entertainment is sponsored by the Louisville Water Co.
While the school offers professional ballet training, students are also taught confidence, self-esteem, creativity, grace and poise. Many times older students play a mentoring role to younger students, said Bannister.
At Oldham County YMCA Soccer Blast, 20 Quality Place, Buckner, Ky.
Friday, March 8
• 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.: Kickoff Luncheon for business representatives only with sneak preview of exhibitor booths, silent auction, live auction and a speaker TBA. Tickets $25
Saturday, March 9
• 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.: Public is welcome to browse exhibitor booths and enjoy live entertainment all day.
• Information: (502) 222-1635
“So many kids have gone through the school” since it began in 1974, she said. Village Dance Theatre began in the Little Colonel Playhouse in Pewee Valley, was the ballet school for Waldeck Academy of the Arts for several years, and opened a new, bigger studio space in August 2010 at 5907 W. Hwy. 22 in Crestwood.
Originally, it began as a branch of Bannister’s mother’s ballet school. Her mother, Pat Hale, had been a USO teacher and dancer who ran her own school, Lyndon Ballet School. “She was my mentor and role model,” Bannister said.
Originally from Nash-ville, Tenn., Bannister’s family moved to Louisville when she was in middle school. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and a master’s degree from the University of Louisville. She received additional teacher training in New York and Chicago.
She primarily teaches now instead of performing, but has danced with the Louisville Civic Ballet and Starlight Theatre in Kansas City in the past. Bannister was named “Dance Educator of the Year” for Kentucky in 2005. She began a dance program at Noe Middle School, teaching Dance & Drama for 23 years before retiring from the school.
Even if a student does not make a career out of ballet, it becomes “an important part of their lives and most stick with it,” she said. She has one high school senior who has taken classes at her school for 12 years, one senior who has taken classes for 13 years and a few juniors who have stuck with it since kindergarten.
Bannister began the ballet school because it “gave girls an opportunity who wanted more classes or a chance to perform.”
The dancers have become a popular act at the Showcase. In fact, it is such “live local entertainment” similar to what Bannister will provide that draws a crowd to Showcase Oldham County each year, said Deana Epperly Karem, Executive Director of Oldham County Chamber & Economic Development. The Showcase is presented by Baptist Hospital Northeast.
Since schools in the county were invited to the Showcase for a Basketball Shooting Contest, this year’s entertainment “was scaled back a little bit,” Karem said. It includes Kentucky Tae Kwon Do, led by Master Sean Ramey; the Oldham County Schools Arts Center Dance & Singing Group, led by Trina Jackson; and the Village Dance Theatre Ballet Group. There will also be bouncys and crafts for kids.
Bannister said, “We have a new company, Young Dancers Company, which will perform three pieces.” This group is working toward becoming a non-profit.
Students will range in ages from kindergarten through 12th grade. Younger students will dance to “Over the Rainbow” and classical work. Audience participation from children is encouraged with this group’s performance.
Bannister said she recently received an email from a former student she had taught in the late 1980s telling her “how important ballet was to me while growing up.” For this reason, Bannister said, “I love devoting my time to the studio.”
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