Maryland Regional Ballet
Maryland Regional Ballet (MRB) began as Frederick Ballet Company in 1978. Joyce Morrison, as a member of the first Frederick Arts Council, saw a need in the community for a local ballet company, and the Frederick Ballet Company began by giving the first benefit performance, Fokine’s Les Sylphides, for The Weinberg Center so the theatre could receive matching grant funding
The Frederick Arts Council, who managed the Weinberg Center, sponsored Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker in December, 1978. Unfortunately, the theatre lost money on that production, and it appeared that the Nutcracker would no longer be performed in Frederick. However, Joyce Morrison felt that the Nutcracker was a production that should be done for the Frederick community, and that it could be financially responsible and independent. After the initial grant from the Frederick Arts Council, the company has not found it necessary to apply for any other grants and for the past thirty years has remained financially independent. Maryland Regional Ballet continues to support the Weinberg Center for the Arts with gifts from MRB. In addition, MRB brings professional dancers to perform in Frederick through gifts to Frederick School of Classical Ballet for their annual June full length performances of the ballet classics: Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. In 1979, Ms. Morrison began the production with the help of Lois Hesterly, Victoria Fedine and Edward Myers. Edward Myers, Principal dancer with Pennsylvania Ballet, arrived in Frederick to set the entire production. With only a few days notice, Mr. Myers left to perform at the Kennedy Center. Pennsylvania Ballet was asked to substitute for the striking American Ballet Theatre. Mr. Myers had to be there as Principal dancer. Unfortunately, Myers was unable to complete the choreography beyond Act I. Act II was completed under the direction of Victoria Fedine, Director of the School of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Set design and construction was done by H. I. Gates and Jerry Miss. The “growing tree” was designed and executed by Mark Pirolo of Carolina Scenic at North Carolina School of the Arts. The lighting design was done by Cary Levitt. Principal costumes were by Evelyn Miller of NCSA. In 1980, George Balanchine, Director of New York City Ballet, supported Frederick Ballet by giving permission for Melinda Roy and Peter Frame to perform his choreography in our production. From that date on New York City Ballet has been an integral part of our production. NYCB dancers Leslie Roy, Paul Frame, David Otto, Nicholaj Hubbe, Kelly Cass, Peter Boal, Yvonne Borree, Miranda Weese and Alexander Ritter, DTH dancers Christina Johnson and Donald Williams, ABT dancer Robert Hill have appeared in our production. Many students from School of American Ballet who have performed the Nutcracker pas de deux for the first time in Frederick have gone on to become Principal dancers with New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem. Peter Boal (NYCB), Margaret Tracey (NYCB), Christopher Stowell (SFB), Charmaine Hunter (DTH) appeared in Frederick at age 16. In 1981, Frederick Ballet became Maryland Regional Ballet when the company toured with the Nutcracker in Baltimore and Hagerstown. Peabody Preparatory Dance and Baltimore School of the Arts performed in our production of the Nutcracker. Over the years, the company has brought back former student MRB Company members to dance as guest artists: Renee Archibald, Susan Kaufmann, Kathrine Kaufmann, Nicole Harden, Rebecca Hoch, Aileen Morrison Holdridge, Beth Dangerfield Green, Elizabeth Barber, Angela Grove, Gretchen Markley, Stacey Hendrickson Tuomey, Wendy Burdette, Alisa Blackledge, Abby Rudesill, Sarah Wroth, Meaghan Dutton-O’Hara. The company has provided some MRB members (Beth Dangerfield Green, Catherine Werking Davidson, Kathrine Kaufmann, Heather Whittington, Aileen Morrison Holdridge, Renee Archibald) with the opportunity to contribute choreography to the production.
For the past 33 years many students and local actors have performed, and parents and supporters have volunteered to be a part of this annual holiday tradition that entertains 4,000 theatre patrons from the Central Maryland region each year at The Weinberg Center for the Arts.