A melodic piano fills the room. The synchronous tapping echoes off the walls. The pointe shoes move as the dancers glide across the hard floor.
These are the all-too-familiar sounds that make up the Ballet Academy of South Texas, a dance studio in the heart of downtown Victoria that specializes in not just ballet lessons, but a whole range of dance that includes tap, jazz, contemporary and pointe,” said director Brenda Tally.
Finding her love for dance at an early age, Tally danced across the country after completing her undergraduate studies before returning to her hometown of Victoria to establish the ballet academy. The studio, which started in January this year, was built on a single-minded vision – to provide a safe space for people of all ages to express themselves through dance, Tally said.
“Ballet has traditionally not been accessible to all kinds of people, people of different colors, people with different body types, people from different backgrounds,” Tally said. “I have found a home in ballet and there are all kinds of dances and they are all very important.”
As director of the ballet academy, Tally said her students’ goals take a three-pronged form. To provide high level training for those interested in ballet, shaping and preparing students to go out into the world to dance in college or in a professional dance company if they choose. And most importantly, instilling discipline, self-actualization and control over their bodies, she said.
“I believe everyone should be in dance class,” Tally said. “Kids, adults, it’s so great for everyone.”
One of the students who ended up at the dance academy is Antonio Wysong.
The 12-year-old moved from Florida to Victoria at an early age and found a love for dancing in the form of a talent show.
In fifth grade, Antonio won his elementary school talent show with his performance, Dancing Through Time, a type of dance where he demonstrated popular dance styles from every generation. One of the school judges spoke to him, and it was then that he decided to pursue ballet.
“I’ve been dancing since I was a baby,” Antonio said. “My dad was playing music, and I kind of sat down and moved.”
The hard work that goes on behind the scenes of a production is what really sets ballet apart from all other dance genres, he said. Even though the balance gets a bit shaky at times, finding your balance in the end is worth it, Antonio said.
Across the hall, inside a smaller practice room, is 12-year-old Sophia Packard, who is part of the junior ballet class. Sophia remembers seeing a production of “The Nutcracker” with her grandfather as a child and falling in love with ballet when she was 3 years old.
Although she is still thinking about what she wants to do when she is older, for now her dream is to go to university to dance and play the role of the Russian ballerina in “The Nutcracker”. , she said.
“Ballet is my life. That’s really all I do,” Sophia said. “I love spinning, jumping and also being on stage in front of all these people, it’s so much fun.”
Duy Vu is the photo editor for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach him at 361-574-1204.