Baltimore Ballet Celebrates 10th Anniversary -
Baltimore Sun Article:
Back on the map! at Danceview Times.
Singular at Danceview Times.
on this link to see an interview on WJZ-TV-Baltimore:
To read the articles in full, please visit the Patuxent Newspaper
(type in "Catbas" in the search field of the Archives)
From Lifetimes, May 19, 2005, by
Baltimore Ballet pauses for 'Pictures'
One of the more colorful pieces of modern classical music
is Modest Mussorgsky's 1874 suite of piano pieces, "Pictures
at an Exhibition."
From The Towson Times, December 3, 2003,
By Carolyn Kelemen
For an international flavor and gorgeous male dancers, the
newly named Baltimore Ballet reigns supreme...
From The Towson
Times, June 11, 2003, By Carolyn Kelemen
A Leg up: Movement pros take steps to enhance dance
Something new, again
The former Ballet Academy of Baltimore has
been rechristened Baltimore Ballet - a name that many older
balletomanes many associate with the original Maryland Ballet
or the Harbor City Ballet, both of which have been known by
it. . . .
From The Towson
Times, February 26, 2002,By Carolyn Kelemen
Russian rigor keeps troupe on its toes: Baltimore Youth Ballet
salutes Russian dance as part of the Vivat! celebrations March
6 at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
As visitors are being reminded by the spectacular "Art
of the Ballets Russes" exhibit at the Baltimore Museum
of Art, . . .
From The Baltimore
Sun, Saturday, June 8, 2002, By Mary Carole McCauley, Sun
Couple's dream job keeps them on their toes
The funny thing about dreams is that sometimes they change. Sometimes the dream costs too much. Sometimes it's not as
alluring up close as it was when it glimmered and shone and
winked at you from a distance. And sometimes, a big, splashy,
attention-getting dream conflicts with a smaller, humbler
dream that you never even noticed you had.
Until you have to make a choice. That's
what happened to Cem Catbas and his wife, Elysabeth Catbas.
He was a ballet dancer with a fistful of impressive awards,
and a position with a respected American ballet company. She
was an opera singer whose coloratura soprano and facility
with soubrette roles have been praised by critics abroad. Just as they were about to enter their artistic primes, they
left the professional stag to open a ballet school in Baltimore.
"My career-ending decision wasn't made
because I couldn't dance anymore", says Cem, 30. "But
a point came when I could choose something else. I thought
there was a lot more that I could give."
So two years ago, Cem (his name is pronounced
"gem") and Elysabeth, 37, bought the Ballet Academy
of Baltimore, a dance studio in a former warehouse in Baltimore
County. Some of their students already have met with notable
success. One has launched a professional career with the Columbia
City Ballet in south Carolina. A second has been accepted
into the American Ballet Theatre's prestigious summer school. A third just won a four-year scholarship to study dance at
the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Tomorrow, the academy will stage a combination
student recital and performance of the second act of Giselle. The event will mix students and professionals: Cem will dance
Albrecht and faculty member Neli Beliakaite will dance Giselle. "We'd like to have our own professional company in Baltimore
at some pointe", Cem says.
He has his work cut out for him. For whatever
reason, Baltimore never has embraced dance. The city has not
had a major professional troupe since 1995, when the acclaimed
Alvin Ailey Dance Theater ended its five-year residency here,
citing lack of donors. "Everyone told us that we have
to start small", Cem says.
He did. Literally. Cem began dancing at
age 10 in his native Istanbul, following in the pointy-toed
steps of an older brother. A pre-adolescent boy in Turkey
needs a certain inner fortitude if he is to embark upon a
career wearing leotards.
"It's a lot more difficult to be a
dancer in a country like Turkey, which is officially secular
but has a Muslim culture," he says. "There are the
same stereotypes about 'effeminate' male dancers as there
are in the west, but there also are religious objections."
Still, he persevered, winning a first prize
in the International Seleznyov Ballet Competition. While in
his 20s, he performed with the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet,
the Istanbul Contemporary Ballet, and finally, the Theater der Stadt Koblenz Ballet in Germany.
There, during the first rehearsal for a
1994 production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, he noticed
a young, Virginia-bred soprano with huge blue eyes named Elysabeth,
who had just arrived after singing featured roles in Zurich
"It really was love at first sight.
Once we got together, we were inseparable," Elysabeth
says. They married the following year. Living in Germany had
advantages. Elysabeth had a two-year engagement, a situation
unheard of in her native country. In the United States, dancers
are paid for just 38 weeks a year, and opera singers hop-scotch
around the country, traveling from production to production.
Cem was beginning to dance important roles,
including the title role in Peer Gynt, and Elysabeth was singing
solo parts, including Papagena in The Magic Flute. German
critics praised her "bold, fresh soprano."
Everything was perfect, except that the
couple, both expatriates, never really felt at home in Germany.
In particular, Elysabeth was homesick for her family in Arlington,
In 1997, Cem took a job with the Pittsburgh
Ballet Theatre, where he quickly distinguished himself in
the corps. "He had good turns and jumps, and a great
personality that really came across in character roles,"
says Terence S. Orr, the company's artistic director. "He
has a very disarming, charming smile."
By 2000, he was dancing solo roles including
the monk in Carmina Burana, and the title role in Dracula,
positioning him for a possible promotion to soloist at the
next company vacancy, Orr says.
But the couple found themselves restless
once again. Elysabeth no longer was enjoying performing as
much as once she had. "Singing can be a very restrictive
career," she says. "I was constantly worrying about
the shape my voice was in."
Cem didn't burn out on performing, but he
chafed at having to submerge his interpretation of a role
to the conception preferred by a director.
So the couple began looking for a ballet
studio to buy. In 2000, they bought the rectangular concrete
building off Falls Road after seeing an advertisement in a
trade publication. "Now, we get to be our own bosses," Cem says. "We get to pick the costumes and design the
set, and I've started doing some choreography. It is such
a luxury for me."
Elysabeth manages the business end of the
studio, and also teaches voice to high school students in
the Peabody Institute's Preparatory Division. In March, she
gave a well-received performance at a faculty concert.
"It's fun and fulfilling to give your
knowledge to someone else," she says. "And we're
both still doing what we love."
And that might be the only dream that counts.
From The Towson
Times, December 4, 2002, By Carolyn Kelemen
Make room for a 'Suite' treat - Holiday preview of Dance
...Perhaps the best-looking prince on stage anywhere this
year is Cem Catbas, director of Ballet Academy of Baltimore. The tall, handsome Turkish director . . .
From The Baltimore
Messenger,Thursday, June 6, 2001, By Katie McCullogh
Youth ballet leaps through first year: Performance to mark
Tucked back in a corner off Falls Road in north Mt. Washington
sits a small building that many young dance students consider
to be their home away from home. From the outside, few passersby
would realize that inside spins a whirlwind of energy and
life in the form of the Ballet Academy of Baltimore.. .
May 16, 2001, By Carolyn Kelemen
Two dance troupes find they've gotta have art
The horses may be off and running at Pimlico, but dancers
here in Baltimore are nearing the finish line as the season
draws to a close. The Ballet Academy of Baltimore is readying
an ambitious concert this weekend that draws inspiration in
part from the world of painting. . . .
Child, November 2001, By Juliette Muscat
Reaching for the Stars - Ballet Academy of Baltimore and Baltimore
Ballet Academy of Baltimore, known for twenty years for outstanding
ballet instruction and dance performance, has attained further
success with the creation of Baltimore Youth Ballet, a nonprofit
ballet company. The Youth Ballet will stage professional ballet
productions (a full length production of Nutcracker is next,
in December) at low cost to regional audiences, and aspires
to become a major cultural and educational resource in the
Baltimore Community. Founders Cem and Elysabeth Catbas, Directors
of Ballet Academy of Baltimore, have high hopes for the Youth
Elysabeth Catbas says, "Baltimore is
a major metropolitan area with a nationally reputable orchestra
and opera company, yet has no ballet company. The Youth Ballet
will be a first step in the direction or providing such a
company to our city. The Board of Directors is currently charting
its future path."
"Students will have the opportunity
to dance in our productions, and we will offer scholarships
to gifted young dancers who need aid," says Artistic
Director Cem Catbas. "Of course, we also welcome tax-deductible
contributions from friends of ballet to help us meet these
goals. This dream will be realized through the efforts of
ourselves, our friends, students, and supporters."
Cem and his wife Elysabeth took over leadership
of the Academy nearly a year and a half ago. During that period,
the student body has increased to over 200 students who are
excited by the dynamic directors, an eclectic mix of gifted
international instructors, and by adherence to principles
of classical Vaganova training. Students, male and female,
range in age from four years through adult. The Academy also
offers modern, jazz, and tap. Elysabeth, a soprano who sang
leading roles in major European opera houses, gives private
voice lessons. She is also on the Faculty of the Peabody Preparatory.
Cem and Elysabeth are now rehearsing with
students and guest artists for their Christmas season production
of Nutcracker, to be presented at Goucher College.
productions were completely sold out. Cem and faculty member
Neli Beliakaite (prize winner of the Prix de Lausanne Competition
1995) are dancing the Cavalier and Sugar Plum Fairy. Other
guest dancers include Cem's brother Murat Catbas (Kiel and
Mannheim Ballets), and Amanda Seidl (Hartford Ballet).
Cem trained at the Istanbul University State
Conservatory, where he earned a BFA in dance. He danced leading
roles in the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet
Theatre, and was principal dancer with the Koblenz Ballet
in Germany. He won a gold medal in the International Seleznyov
Ballet Competition and has worked with such illustrious teachers
as Patricia Wilde and Marianna Tcherkassky of NYC Ballet and
ABT, among others.
"Strong volunteer support from parents
and friends of the Academy is an integral part of the Nutcracker
production," says Elysabeth. "We're very lucky to
have such supportive and enthusiastic parents and adult students
who volunteer to build seta and sew costumes, as well as help
out backstage and provide other services. It's a wonderful
event for everyone to be a part of."
From The Towson
Times, Jeffersonian, Baltimore Messenger, and Owings Mills
Times, June 2000, By Katie V. Jones
Husband, wife choreograph future for ballet academy
Cem Catbas makes an imposing vampire. With his face powdered
white and magnificent cape providing an impressive wing span,
Catbas demands respect - from a distance. . . .