Volume XI, Issue 33 ~ August 14-20, 2003

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| Politics is Killing the Bay | Bay Life: Bay Life: Hale and Farewell |

Bay Life: Hale and Farewell
Ballet Theatre of Maryland Commemorates Edward Stewart…
by Norbert M. DuBois

What a piece of work is Man. How noble in reason, in actuality how like a God.
— William Shakespeare

photo by Norbert M. DuBois
Edward Stewart, right, with Anton Wilson and ballerina Regina Zou.
Such a work was Edward Stewart, artistic director of the Ballet Theatre of Maryland from its founding as Ballet Theatre of Annapolis in 1979 until his death on July 30 last year.

So beloved was Eddie, and so central to the artistic life of the capital city, that July 26, 2002, was proclaimed Edward Stewart Day by Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer.

“Edward Stewart’s legacy is far beyond his visionary leadership of the Ballet Theatre of Annapolis and Maryland,” Moyer wrote in the proclamation. “It is in the lives he has touched.”

A year after his death, the man who touched and changed lives will be honored in a program of 14 short dances including excerpts from Eddie Stewart’s Annapolis Yesteryear, The Eleventh Commandment and Alice in Wonderland plus pieces by dancers and artistic directors from across the nation and around the world.

Friends and dancers from near at hand and as far away as China will gather on August 16 at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts to commemorate his contribution and to fund a ballet scholarship in his name at the company he guided.

Preparing for the big day, three former members of the original Ballet Theatre of Annapolis have spent hours reconstructing their comic dance trio in Annapolis Yesteryear.

Now, on a humid Sunday afternoon at LesCher Dance Studio, Cherry Dowsley, Charlotte McNutt and Christine Hamilton have donned their tights and slippers for their first joint rehearsal in years.

“It is so neat to see the pieces falling together,” said Dowsley. “Eddie was a gentleman, gentle spirit, a gifted dancer, teacher and choreographer, an endearing friend and mentor,” she reflected. “From the very first rehearsal, he endeared himself to me.”

The spirit of Edward Stewart — how noble in reason, in actuality how like a God — still carries these dancers onward.

“No one will ever replace Eddie,” said city of Annapolis spokeswoman Jan Hardesty. “He will, as Ben Franklin said of Thomas Jefferson, simply have successors.”

The Ballet Theatre of Maryland and The Edward Stewart Memorial Scholarship Fund Committee extend their invitation to all. Concert at 3pm followed by the dedication of memorial plaque and a reception. $22 (or more if you choose) w/age and fire, police and military discounts: 301/261-1553 • www.mdhallarts.org.

…And Continues with New Artistic Director Dianna Cuatto
‘So many people want to express their sorrow,” said committee member Caryl Maxwell. “But we can’t get too carried away with that. Edward would want us to move on.”

Thus the memorial concert also celebrates the aspirations of the Ballet Theatre of Maryland as envisioned by Stewart and now being carried forth by new artistic director Dianna Cuatto, who joined the company July 1. Former principal ballerina with Ballet West and former ballet mistress of Richmond Ballet, Cuatto says that her vision for Ballet Theatre of Maryland includes maintaining Stewart’s legacy while moving forward with fresh choreographic works.

‘Dance is soul-to-soul communication,’ says BTM director Dianna Cuatto, front left.
BW You’ve come to Ballet Theatre of Maryland at quite a time, with so much transition occurring. Did you realize this when you accepted the job?

DC I did know that BTM was in transition, because of Eddie’s passing, but there have been many more changes than I had originally anticipated. It’s a matter of accepting the challenges and working hard on a daily basis to create a new artistic vision.

Editor’s Note: General Manager Henry Holth has also left the company.

BW So, how many hats are you wearing now?

DC I’m artistic director of the dance company, director of Ballet Theatre of Maryland/School and, in essence, CEO of Operations. Jack Erdmann, president of the board, functions as CEO of governance.

BW How did you come to Ballet Theatre of Maryland ?

DC An announcement was sent out and we at Richmond Ballet received it. At first, I wasn’t interested. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to move on from Richmond Ballet. But former Ballet Theatre of Maryland dancer Katie Lynch, who’s currently with Richmond Ballet, encouraged me to apply.

BW Why did she think you were the woman to succeed Edward Stewart?

DC She felt that my approach to directing and teaching dance was similar to Eddie’s. She felt we had similar positive, nurturing demeanors.

BW Had you ever met Edward?

DC No. But I heard so much about him, so many good things, I felt I knew him.

BW How do you see all this activity on this first anniversary of his death?

DC Wonderful! And I’m looking forward to meeting the dancers and friends of Eddie’s. It’s also an appropriate transition, a good form of closure to the past, while looking forward to a vision of the future.

BW What are your goals for Ballet Theatre of Maryland ?

DC I want to get the quality back up and carry on the nurturing, familial tradition. As far as the Ballet Theatre school, I want to develop a stronger link between the school and the company, with three levels of apprentices.

I want Maryland’s unique cultural voice to be represented. And while keeping such traditional danceworks as The Nutcracker, I also want to present a more eclectic choreographic repertoire to make it more viable to 21st century audiences. In Richmond, we did a piece called Primal Dreams, based on a folklore story. Audiences loved it and its music. We’ll do it here.

Dance is a soul-to-soul communication. It is the melting pot of our audience so we can see from different views.

About the Author:
Norbert M. DuBois is a former dancer and current member of A.F.T.R.A., who contributes to Dance Magazine (New York), Bay Weekly and other publications. His articles and photos of dance have been published overseas. His next project is the Ballet Nacional de Cuba.


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Last updated August 14, 2003 @ 1:17am