Exploring ballet

Camas girl participates in Kennedy Center summer intensive program

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Camas resident Zuzu Metzler, 14, is one of 25 dancers selected from all over the country to study ballet under the tutelage of a legendary ballerina Suzanne Farrell in Washington D.C.

Zuzu Metzler of Camas and 25 other select dancers from all over the country are studying ballet under the tutelage of a legendary ballerina.

Metzler, 14, is participating in the Kennedy Center’s three-week Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell program in Washington D.C.

The students, who are from 12 different states, were selected from auditions last winter and will participate in the program through Aug. 16.

“It was such an honor to be chosen,” said Metzler, an aspiring professional dancer. “It makes me happy that Ms. Farrell wants to work with me, and is willing to spend her time and energy helping me become a better dancer.”

As part of the program, students take two daily ballet classes six days a week at the Kennedy Center. They also visit museums, historical landmarks and attend other special events. A student demonstration for parents and invited guests will take place at the end of the program.

It’s a bit of a whirlwind schedule and Metzler is taking it all in.

“Getting to work with Ms. Farrell has been amazing,” she said. “She is such a wonderful teacher. It’s been fun to meet the other dancers from around the country and to see Washington, D.C. I’m having such a great time.”

Metzler has been studying ballet for 11 years. Performing is her favorite aspect. She attends a class Monday through Friday at the Oregon Ballet Theatre and for eight hours on Saturday.

“Ballet can be hard work, and sometimes it can take a lot of effort to make something look graceful,” she said.

The Kennedy Center first began offering two series of ballet master classes with Farrell in the early 1990s. In response to the program’s success, it expanded Exploring Ballet With Suzanne Farrell to a national program in 1995 as part of its mission to enhance the arts education of America’s young people, according to a press release. Auditions are held around the country annually for the program.

Farrell was one of famed dancer and choreographer George Balanchine’s most celebrated muses. She danced with the New York City Ballet from 1961 to 1969 and 1975 to 1989.

Over the years, she originated 23 roles in Balanchine ballets and her repertory eventually reached some 110 ballets, one-third of which were created especially for her. She has received numerous awards and the documentary, Suzanne Farrell: Elusive Muse, aired on PBS and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary.

Since the fall of 2000, Farrell has been a tenured professor of dance at Florida State University. She has also set Balanchine works throughout the world for the George Balanchine Trust.