Area youth have lead roles in ballet

The Champaign-Urbana Ballet will be performing Sleeping Beauty on May 5 with local dancers Eli Ochs of Savoy as the Prince and Lauren Frost of Tolono in the role of the Lilac Fairy.  There is strength and discipline behind the seemingly effortless dancing of the performers, the two young dancers explained in a recent interview.

“It’s a controlled way to express yourself,” said Frost.  “The performers tell the story with their hands and facial expressions as well as in dance.”

A dancer for eight years, high school senior Frost loves to perform on stage.  “It’s a great joy to dance for an audience,” she said.

Ochs as the Prince brings many years of experience to the role.  A ballet dancer for 11 years, Ochs loves the story lines of ballet and the music.  “You have to be very strong as a male dancer,” he explained.  “It takes breathing control for the turns and lifts.  We do one day a week of strength training and cardio.  Ballet is graceful but takes discipline.”

It takes a great deal of partnership to dance ballet well, they agreed.  “Each person needs to put in the same amount of effort,” Ochs said.  “You depend on each other.  You need to find the connection and breathe together.  It takes a lot of practice.”  Frost added, “You need to be friends as well as partners. Sometimes if we aren’t dancing well together, our instructor will tell us to go out and have a cup of coffee and reconnect.”

The two dancers train in dance classes six days a week.  Both have a great deal of support from their families.  “All the families are close in the CU Ballet Company,” Frost said.

 This particular ballet performs the tale of Sleeping Beauty, which changes the original tale to include a wedding scene that incorporates many fairytale favorites in recognizable costumes, which is one of the cast’s favorite aspects of the production. “All the familiar characters are there.  The costumes are beautiful, they are all hand made here mostly by volunteers,” said Kay Greene, the ballet’s executive director.  “It’s a very family friendly ballet,” said Frost. “The costumes bring out the performance.  It makes the dancers feel like they are in the story,” she said.

The two dancers wish that more aspiring dancers would be exposed to the ballet.  “It makes you very disciplined, prepared for the future,” Ochs said.

Future ballerinas and male dancers can come to the Champaign-Urbana Ballet academy and have a free trial lesson, if the dancing bug should bite.

The program includes a speccial promotion for Gril Scouts for (Saturday matinees. Contact CU Ballet at or 217.355.7317 for more information.


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