Ballet department raising money for Japan performance

By Katie Valentine, Staff Writer

The Utah Ballet and the Character Dance Ensemble have been invited to perform at the Valentino Dance Center in Tokyo, but the dance companies must first raise approximately $39,000 to cover the cost of the trip.

Members of the ballet and the ensemble will work throughout Spring Semester to raise funds for the May trip. Six ballet members, 12 ensemble members and two faculty members who will be traveling to Japan.

The country has a large ballet market and it is a great opportunity for the dancers in both groups to be able to experience it, said Mikhail Tchoupakov, a professor and the Japanese tour coordinator for the U ballet department.

Ellie Ewer, a sophomore in the Character Dance Ensemble, said whatever funds aren’t raised will be divided up and paid for by the dancers.

The College of Fine Arts has granted $5,999 to the department to help with the trip. The Ensemble submitted an application Thursday for the same finance fee and will find out Feb. 13 if they will receive funds, said Sayoko Knode, a junior in ballet.

The ensemble is hosting a character dance workshop April 4 to raise money. The workshop is for anyone ages 6 and up at the Marriott Center for Dance. At the end of the day, all participants will perform in a recital at the Marriott Dance Center. The ensemble and ballet will also perform.

Ensemble members will be going to different dance studios throughout the Salt Lake Valley during the next several months to announce the workshop. Ensemble members will teach classes at the workshop along with Richard Wacko, artistic director of the Character Dance Ensemble.

The ballet and ensemble are going to restaurants and businesses in the Salt Lake area seeking sponsorships and donations. Dancers hope several restaurants might be willing to host nights during which they would donate a portion of their sales to the groups.

Knode said she wants to coordinate performances at the Japanese Christian Church and get in touch with the Japanese community in Salt Lake City.

While in Japan, the U will hold two auditions for prospective students interested in the U ballet department.

“We are hoping to get more international students,” Knode said.

Knode and several other ballet members danced with the Salt Lake Symphony in a children’s concert at Libby Gardner Hall on Jan. 17, which also raised money for the trip.

Dancers have been collecting private donations. Tchoupakov said there is a donation table set up at each showcase.

The department has a showcase Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. at the dance center. The Royal Ballet School of London will be performing with the U ballet students. The cost is $15 for adults and $10 for students.

For information on how to donate go to, scroll down to “Japan Excursion 09,” and click on the Donate link.

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Lucas Isley

Kayley Winfield, a ballet major at the U, rehearses for an upcoming ballet showcase that runs from Feb. 5-7. Ballet members will be raising funds for a trip to Japan in May.

Lucas Isley

Members of the Ballet and Character Dance Ensemble are working to raise $39,000 for a trip to perform at the Valentino Dance Center in Japan.