Vitacca Ballet School for Dance announces RAP Choreographer Mennite
Vitacca Ballet School for Dance, Houston, Artistic Director + Founder Kelly Ann Vitacca, and Resident Artist Program (RAP) Director Andrea Dawn Shelley are proud announce the 2023-2024 RAP Resident Artist Melody Mennite, current Principal with Houston Ballet.
Artistic Director Vitacca states, “Vitacca Ballet School is thrilled to have a Houston icon as the school’s resident artist this season. Ms. Mennite has built her vast dance career in Houston and rooted her reputation as a remarkable artist, which many of our students have seen and respected over the years. We are beyond thankful to have a homegrown artist work with our students this season.”
RAP Director Shelley comments, “I had the opportunity of observing Ms. Mennite lead a four-hour choreographic workshop for the dance community in Houston. In this workshop, offered to movers of different dance experience and ability levels, what stood out the most was her kindness, open mindedness and level of respect given to every individual in the studio. Her preparedness, collaborative, task-oriented development of movement vocabulary and dance architecture, is the type of collaborative spirit and experience we wish to offer our participating Resident Artist Program artists.” Ms. Shelley continues, “With the addition of composition study and research to our program last season, Ms. Mennite is a professional choreographer who will provide our young artists with a welcoming, collaborative choreographic process as well as heartfelt mentorship as they develop their own choreographic work throughout the season.”
RAP Choreographer Mennite is excited to work with Vitacca Ballet School, she eloquently states, “I love making new work with dancers who are open and willing to enter that wonderful unknown space that is the creative process with me. I also really appreciate the concept of this program in general. Transparency and mentorship through modeling in artistic processes is such a valuable thing for both choreographers and dancers. I love that the RAP experience is built to foster that. Honestly the time spent conceptualizing and building a new piece has become one of the most rewarding things I experience, so this opportunity has lit a flame of inspiration for me to warm my artist heart with these next few months. I cannot wait to meet and get to know my fellow collaborators in the dancers and share my ideas and experience with them. Everything about it excites me!”
Ms. Mennite is a choreography dance educator at heart making sure the process is a shared collaboration, she shares, “My biggest goal in choreography has become not only creating work that honors the dancers’ individualities and human experience but also creating a process and environment that invites each of them in to attuned connection with themselves and each other. We can get so outwardly focused on ballet and dance training that we lose the magic and wisdom of our intuitive movement. My work as a choreographer is an ongoing exploration in learning to foster that.”
This dance education process fundamental to RAP develops a well-rounded dancer. Ms. Mennite comments, “Dancers need a solid foundation of technique and consistent, persistent work that is quote measured and repetitive. The boundaries of this create a kind of mastery of form over time. But it is also crucial that dancers as artists push their own limits and learn how to embody qualities of spontaneity, courage, and explosive freedom within the structure of the training they labor so hard at. Being in the creation of a new work and performing it, as well as simply working with many choreographers and their differing processes and cues, is the main way that dancers can expand into these other qualities that only happen outside the class setting. That is why this program is beneficial to the dancers becoming more well-rounded.”
RAP is truly a unique program setting Vitacca Ballet School out as a dance education school, Ms. Mennite comments, “I haven’t before seen a program that fosters the kind of choreographer/dancer mentorship and education aspect the way that RAP is set up to.”
For more information on Vitacca Ballet School for Dance and the RAP Program visit www.VitaccaDance.com.