Dancing across distant cultures

Published 2:35 pm Thursday, May 27, 2010

Viviane Delchamps can hardly remember a time in her life when she wasn’t a dancer, since she started taking ballet classes at age 3.

“When I was 7, I decided that I wanted to take it seriously,” she said.

Her nearly life-long dancing career led her to the Steven Grebel School of Dance where she has studied for the past eight years. Delchamps grew from a young dancer into a strong performer who is currently preparing for her second lead role. Delchamps danced as the Sugarplum Fairy in “The Nutcracker” in December and will perform as Cinderella in May.

To prepare for a principal role like Cinderella, Delchamps said she steps up her practices from six days a week to seven, and spends nearly all day Saturday at the studio rehearsing.

When she starts preparing for a new ballet, Delchamps does research first.

“I’ll look up videos and watch other dancers, then incorporate some of what I see them do with my own style,” she said.

Dancing has taken Delchamps far beyond the borders of Alabama. She spent a total of six weeks during two summers in Serbia, the homeland of her current dance teacher Steven Grebel.

During one of the trips, she stayed in the home of some of Grebel’s friends and experienced Serbian culture first-hand.

“It was amazing to get to see how they live there. We would dance a lot. In a lot of ways, it’s the same; you’re always striving for perfection. But it’s more disciplined there, unlike American ballet where there’s more freedom,” she said.

Now Delchamps is passing on her love of ballet. She teaches the 2-6-year-olds at her dance studio two hours a week, showing them basic ballet positions, stretches and playing games.

“Teaching ballet is something I want to continue,” she said.

Delchamps said she plans to pursue a dance minor and English Literature major when she goes to Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., in the fall.