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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

This is Garden State Ballet

Updated: Oct 6, 2019

By Tracy Leigh

Garden State Ballet has been a premier dance studio in Rutherford for almost 50 years. Tucked away on 28 Glen Road (just beneath Toddlers in Motion), GSB has been a hidden gem for many dancers in town. TIR recently had the opportunity to chat with Jody Jaron, director and instructor of GSB to learn more about its rich history in town, their annual production of The Nutcracker, and how they can use help to refurbish the costumes to keep the production going.

Jody Jaron: Garden State Ballet was founded by Fred and Evelyn Danieli in 1951 in the city of Newark. They opened the Rutherford Studio in the early 1970's, as well as the Morristown Studio, which is now in Randolph, NJ. The school is a non-profit school. The School of the Garden State Ballet Youth Company was founded by me 38 years ago in our Rutherford Studio.

TIR: Have you had any dancers go on to join ballet companies or star in productions?

JJ: The School has had many dancers go on to careers in companies all around the world. Our dancers have gone on to dance for the following companies: New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Jose Limon Company, Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, Eliot Feld Ballet, Geneva Ballet, Munich Ballet, Israeli Ballet, Ballet West, Pittsburgh Ballet, Capitol Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Twyla Tharp Dance Company, Joffrey Ballet, and the Pilobolus Dance Theatre.

Rutherford Resident, Shirley Reevie performed with Eliot Feld Ballet and Oakland Ballet. My own mother performed with the June Taylor Dancers and went on to a successful Broadway career.

We have had our dancers perform in Broadway and Off Broadway Productions and Tours of The Original Music Man, The Original Most Happy Fella, Chorus Line, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Brigadoon, Chicago, Cinderella, An American in Paris On the Town, Memphis, and Moulin Rouge.

Several of our students have gone on to enjoy prominent careers as choreographers, instructors, arts administrators and artistic directors. We have had a countless number of students attend major colleges and universities on dance scholarships.

TIR: What does your studio here in Rutherford offer?

JJ: We have numerous classes for all various levels of dance. We start introductory classes for children as young as 4 years old and we even offer Adult Ballet classes! Our instructors are all classically trained ballerinas as am I. I have trained at the San Francisco Ballet School, School of American Ballet and Official School of the New York City Ballet. Our Rutherford instructor, Allison Wyss attended SUNY Purchase and graduated from the University of Utah with a BFA in Ballet.

Each year students are selected to join the School of the Garden State Ballet Youth Company. Comprised of students drawn from Randolph, Newark and Rutherford, the 40 member troupe's annual tours have brought them before audiences in over 70 New Jersey communities.

Workshops in Ballet, Jazz and Musical Theatre are offered for our intermediate and advanced students. Workshops provide rehearsals and performances of new and traditional dance works staged by faculty and guest choreographers.

The School annually awards scholarships providing financial assistance to promising students in the Children's and Regular Divisions. The Newark School provides scholarship training opportunities to hundreds of urban children each year. Grants in support of the School's scholarship programs have been awarded by numerous corporate and individual contributors.

You can view our Rutherford program schedule here on our website: GSB Program Schedule

TIR: Many of our readers may be familiar with GSB's production of, The Nutcracker. Tell us how you started it and how it's become a tradition in our town.

JJ: The Youth Company has been doing the full Nutcracker production for 33 years now and before that I did only excerpts for 5 years.

Performing at the Rutherford Public Library

We started out performing at mall venues and annually at the Rutherford Holiday Festival. We even did several performances in Atlantic City. Once we started doing our full-length version, we began touring elementary and secondary schools across New Jersey as well as hospitals, senior citizen facilities and fundraising events for Turner Syndrome and AIDs. We always save a date for the Rutherford Public Library where we do a free public performance each year.

With all of these numerous performances and with hundreds of young performers using the costumes we are now at a point where we need to refurbish them. At this point our headpieces are tired and bare and many of the tutus are beyond repair. We recently launched a GoFundMe campaign this month and hope to raise $8,000 for the necessary replacements. We would appreciate any monetary donations to help keep our production going. All donations are tax deductible. Click here for GSB's GoFundMe Page

Disclaimer: My daughter has been attending GSB for 3 years and we have a sincere loyalty to the school. This story was not a paid sponsorship, but TIR has a passion for saving the arts. Please consider donating and helping GSB raise the necessary funds to keep their production of The Nutcracker going this upcoming holiday season and for many more years to come.

Garden State Ballet

28 Glen Road, Rutherford, NJ

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