Stage + Studio, A Louisville Ballet Blog: Relevé Society by Annie Honebrink

“Louisville Ballet is a community and family…the welcoming atmosphere and desire to share with others the love of this wonderful art form is what makes Louisville Ballet and Relevé Society special,” states Relevé Society member, Elizabeth Malcom.  Art is a relationship between artist and viewer. Without our supporters, Louisville Ballet would not be able to produce the work the company creates.  Relevé Society is a fantastic organization that brings vigor and spirit to Louisville Ballet. Relevé Society was established to bring together the young adult donors of the Ballet for a more immersive experience.  The organization now consists of forty-two fabulous members that generate a dynamic energy.

One does not need to be knowledgeable about ballet to join Relevé Society.  Through this organization, young people are given the chance to learn about the Ballet together, discovering through each other, through the dancers, through the music, through the costumes—through art.  Naturally, many of the current members were drawn to the organization by their love of ballet.  

“I love everything about live theatre; especially the hush that comes over the audience as the lights come down and the curtains go up.  No matter what I’m seeing, it’s always one of my favorite parts of the night, the anticipation of what’s to come,” expresses Relevé Society President, Ariana Shah. “As for ballet, I love how the dancers make it look so effortless, how the music showcases the choreography and vice versa, and I love the sound of pointe shoes on the stage!” Shah was first exposed to ballet in Pittsburgh with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker.  She usually is drawn to the classical ballets, such as Swan Lake and Giselle; however, in recent years Louisville Ballet has opened her eyes to more modern and contemporary works.  She states, “Last season’s How They Fade from Stars + Stripes and Human Abstract blew me away.”  

Relevé Society gives members an insider view of the Ballet, as they are invited to open rehearsals in the company’s studio space. This gives a backstage peek into the process of bringing a ballet to the stage. Malcom appreciates the insights these rehearsals provide. “I am always in awe of the intentionality behind every movement—every turn of the head, shift of energy, or synergy between two or more dancers,” she explains. “I love the gestalt of a performance and how the result of all of these smaller moving pieces creates a work of art that is so much more. It’s why I love open rehearsals and being able to catch a small glimpse of the work behind the ‘effortlessness’ on stage during a performance.”

In addition to viewing ballet, the group organizes activities such as yoga or pilates classes with the dancers, dinners before performances, and volunteering opportunities.  The group is still young, and as such, the roles of its leaders and members are still developing.  Shah states, “I like how we grow and evolve from what our membership wants and what we think we can do to best serve the Ballet.”

Viewing art alone certainly can be impactful; however, sharing the experience with others offers the opportunity to delve deeper. Viewing art together, with another individual or group, presents individuals the ability to discuss their experience and explore together. They can learn from each other and receive insight into other ways to view art. “My favorite part about being in Relevé Society is always having a group of people that wants to go see the Ballet, sometimes even multiple performances,” says Shah. “It’s fun being part of a group that appreciates the arts as much as I do and wants to experience it in so many different ways.” Shah and her fellow members are an incredible group of people.  Their passion for the arts, specifically the Ballet, is inspiring to the dancers and staff of Louisville Ballet. This young, vibrant group is the future of art in the city of Louisville. They represent the potential, hope, and possibility of expanded audience engagement.  When asked her favorite part about being in Relevé Society, Malcom answers, “The people: both the members and the dancers. You truly will not find a greater group in the city.”

If you or someone you know is interested in joining this amazing group of people as they explore and support Louisville Ballet, contact Ariana Shah:  A membership includes tickets to the exciting Raise the Barre event, two free tickets to performances, discounts on all other tickets, invitations to open rehearsals and performance receptions, and the ability to purchase a special Relevé subscription!  

Join Relevé Society on Friday, June 16th at the Speed Art Museum for Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan, a documentary about New York City Ballet’s star.  Whelan is a Louisville native who danced in Louisville Ballet’s Nutcracker as a child.  This particular screening will include a post-screening discussion with Whelan herself!