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The Brandon ballet: dancing into the spotlight

Krista Byrd, Staff Writer

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The ballerina maiden leaped in the air, freezing time for a moment as her body takes flight. Death slithered behind her, his body turning into the shadow of a sneaking snake. For the duration of a song, the dancers transform into birds and shadows. When the song ends, right before your eyes, they transform back into the people you see in the grocery store or drinking coffee at Starbucks.

When someone mentions a local ballet, visions of sugarplum fairies and a large group of eight year old girls clumsily dancing the nutcracker comes to mind. One does not typically think that a ballet based in a suburb such as Brandon, could have professional dancers who can convey hundreds of emotions with the turn of a wrist or the kick of a leg, but that is exactly what the dancers of the Brandon Ballet do.

“We dance to feel something,” said Octavio Martin, director and choreographer of the Brandon Ballet. “This is not your typical messy nutcracker rendition.”

“I like to be versatile,” Martin said at his free monthly community event, On Pointe, which takes place at the HCC Regent building. This event is where the community can get an inside look at rehearsals and a preview of dances in upcoming shows. “One of the reasons why I left Cuba was because I was looking for a future not just like economic kind of future, but I was looking for a future as an artist. In Cuba we did a lot of classical ballets… I choreograph all the dances here and I create my own version of the classics.”

The dancers of this professional company and school are certainly passionate about what they do. “I couldn’t imagine my life without dance,” said Kristen, a 23 year old dancer who has been dancing for nearly 20 years. After performing a very moving contemporary piece to the music of Mozart, it is hard to imagine her doing anything else.

For the dancers of the Brandon Ballet, rehearsal is a full time job. Many dancers practice from Tuesday to Sunday and the level of dedication shows in their dancing. Martin also works very hard, often having to do the job of a marketing person, a choreographer, and scheduler. “In the past, dancers had to move to other cities to pursue their passion, but I want to bring that level of art here to Tampa,” said Martin. “We just need people to believe in us. I know we can do it.”

On March 1, the Brandon Ballet will be performing Spanish Divertissments in Ybor City, at 7pm at the Centro Asturiano. Spanish Divertissments will also be performed on March 2, at 2pm and 7pm at the Riverview High School auditorium. Tickets can be purchased at the Ballet’s website or at the door. They will also be performing Copellia on April 20 and 21, at the Spoto High School auditorium. Tickets for Copellia can also be purchased online.

In the future, Martin hopes to shift the direction of the Brandon Ballet from being solely a school, and more of a professional dance company. In order to pay the professional dancers in the future, the ballet is currently looking for monetary donations, which can be made via their website, BrandonBallet.org, or over the phone at (813) 684-4282.

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The Brandon ballet: dancing into the spotlight