Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ballet Legends Exhibit Opening at 1911 Historic City Hall

The City of Lake Charles will host IDA AND EM, an exhibition honoring two ballet legends of Lake Charles, at the Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center. The exhibition will open with a reception on Friday, November 30 from 5:30-8pm and will hang through February 2.

In 1950, two friends, Ida Winter Clarke and Emily Coleman, began a collaboration; Ida as a choreographer and dance teacher, and Emily as a costume and ballet set designer/executor. 
The dedication and creativity of Clarke and Coleman acted as the catalyst to bring the world of ballet to Lake Charles. The IDA AND EM exhibition honors not only these two remarkable women, but also the men and women who gave their time and devotion to promote ballet in Calcasieu Parish, and the hundreds of aspiring young dancers who were a part of this enormous effort. 

Ida and Emily’s most notable creation, “The Nutcracker”, premiered at the historic Arcade Theatre in 1963 with nine future productions over a 30 year period. This was the first full-length performance of “The Nutcracker” in the southeastern United States, and required two years of work and hundreds of loyal volunteers. Many more ballets were mounted, and many more young people were inspired by the beauty and discipline of dance. The exhibition encompasses a period of 3 decades, from 1956-1986, and includes dozens of vintage costumes, set designs and sketches, as well as photos of the dedicated and talented performers, designers and stage hands. Also included is a short film containing memoirs from many of the people involved in this 30 year effort. See how Ida and Em set the stage for the today’s young dancers.

Also opening on the same evening will be Paint on my Fingers in the first floor gallery. Artist Mary Hillier will present to meet and greet guests. Hillier was born in Lake Charles and now resides in Lafayette. As a child of French-speaking parents, she remains humble and close to her roots through art.  Her exhibition contains her favorite subjects including the figure, human face and all God’s creatures. Hillier’s images are transferred from her inspiration straight onto the canvas. She said, “They are mostly abstract and usually colorful. Several images repeat among people and pets such as roses, sunflowers, flamingos. All have meaning to me. Perhaps you also think of a rose as a scent from heaven? A sunflower as a staff of pure power and righteousness? A beautiful bird as a messenger?”  Her hands are her tools, thus the title of her show.

Historic City Hall is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Admission to the arts and cultural center is free, however donations are gladly accepted.  For more information, please call 491-9147 or visit