Local dancers end 2017-2018 with performances and honors


For the young ladies who have performed with the Appalachian Ballet Company and studied at the Van Metre School of Dance during the past year, the 2017-2018 season was an eventful one, culminating in a spring calendar that not only allowed their talents to shine but also rewarded them with more opportunities for the future.


The recent run of season highlights began May 2 through 6, when the Appalachian Ballet Company (ABC) performed The Odyssey at the Southeastern Ballet Association Festival in Montgomery, AL. Choreographed by Kylie Morton Berry, the Gala-night performance helped cap off a week during which six of the company’s dancers auditioned for and received scholarships.


Grace Rogers, Calista Jones and Sarah Hartsell received partial scholarships to the Regional Dance America National Choreographic Intensive at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, this summer, while AnnaMae Sterling, Katelyn Compton and Sarah Hartsell received trainee program scholarships and summer scholarships to the U.S. International Ballet in Wilmington, NC.


“It’s always gratifying to see these dancers rewarded for their hard work,” said ABC artistic director Amy Morton Vaughn, noting that the company recently wrapped up its 46th season. “They really made the most out of their time at the festival.”


Less than two weeks later, on May 17, the Van Metre School of Dance in Maryville celebrated its 60th anniversary with a recital at the Clayton Center for the Arts. Fittingly, this year’s graduating class consisted of five young women who were all members of the National Honor Society and who graduated with GPAs ranging from 4.1 to 4.625.


In addition, all five graduates will be attending college on scholarships: Marissa Hastings (Maryville High School) – Lehigh University; Angelina Sorenson (Maryville High School) – Chapman University; Garyn McGill (Clayton-Bradley Academy) – University of Kentucky; Christell Foote (West High School) – University of Georgia; and Clare Souder (Knoxville Catholic High School) – St. Mary’s College.


Most recently, 22 dancers with the Appalachian Ballet Company traveled to Edisto Beach, SC, where they performed for the Arts in the Park event on June 10. The group danced for an audience of more than 300 guests at an outdoor venue dedicated to Van Metre School of Dance founder and ABC founding director Cheryl Van Metre.


“The Arts in the Park event was fun and beautiful, set near an inland waterway” Vaughn noted. “Cheryl and her husband, Mickey, along with several of their Edisto neighbors, hosted our dancers for four days.”


The event also featured a performance by ABC guest artists Laura Morton and James La Russa. Morton, an ABC and Van Metre alum, was recently introduced as the very first protégé with the Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre in Atlanta. Terminus launched its protégé program this year as an avenue for dance artists to move out of the academic ballet setting and take their first steps in the professional world.


“She will be dancing alongside the five members of the Terminus company,” Vaughn explained. “She was recently featured with the other dancers in a music video for the band Quiet Hounds.”