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Ballet Theatre of Carmel’s Enchanted Tales points to tradition

Guest dancers Gabriel Weiner and Erica Lohman prepare for their roles in “The Firebird.” (Photo by Amy Adams/The Reporter)

(THE REPORTER) — Ballet Theatre of Carmel usually performs story ballets: The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty. However, the academy’s upcoming performance, Enchanted Tales: Celebrating the Golden Age of Ballet, brings together a collection of shorter ballets, “The Firebird,” “Les Sylphides,” and a tribute to legendary classical ballerina Anna Pavlova.

The performance, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 24, and 2 p.m. Saturday, May 25, at the STAR Bank Performing Arts Center in Zionsville, speaks to the breadth of influences in Artistic Director Jane Hachiya-Weiner’s own professional dance career.

The upcoming performance pays homage to Ballet Russe, a ballet company that began in Paris in the early 1900s, performed all over the world, and is largely recognized as the most influential ballet company of the 20th century.

“I really love art deco and art nouveau and the sensitivities that came out of the era,” Hachiya-Weiner said. “It was very innovative and left an impression like a very deep well that we go back to pull from.”

Hachiya-Weiner describes “The Firebird,” with music composed by Stravinsky, as a “flamboyant” and “fashy” composite of a handful of Russian fairy tales. In contrast, “Les Sylphides,” a celebration of Chopin, tells of a poet cavorting in the fields with the sylphs of the air.

“It’s a gem of a piece,” Hachiya-Weiner said.

In between these two shorter ballets will be a remembrance of Anna Pavlova, including a piece set to Saint-Saens’ “The Swan” from Carnival of the Animals. From costumes to sets, each piece truly brings to life a glorious era of ballet.

“Story ballet’s are very popular with young families,” Hachiya-Weiner said. “But we also need to look back and acknowledge the people whose shoulders we stand on.”

These are dancers and choreographers, many of whom came to the United States to become citizens and established schools and companies across the nation.

“This is a nod to my teachers and mentors,” Hachiya-Weiner said.

Born in Japan, Hachiya-Weiner began dancing at the age of 9 and apprenticed at Inoue Ballet in Tokyo, eventually becoming principal dancer. At the age of 16, she was chosen to dance the black swan with dancers from Paris Opera. Her professional dancing career brought her to the United States and eventually to Indianapolis where she met fellow dancer Frank Weiner.

Weiner, born in Zimbabwe, Africa, began dancing at the age of 15 in the U.S. and has had a full career in ballet.

Both danced with the now inoperative Indianapolis Ballet Theatre and directed the Ballet Theatre of Carmel at The Performer’s Edge. When the owner of The Performer’s Edge retired, the couple founded Ballet Theatre of Carmel Academy in 2018. In addition to being led by two professional dancers with vast experience, the Ballet Theatre of Carmel Academy includes the American Ballet Theatre National Training among their methods.

Enchanted Tales marks the return of several BTC alums as guest performers. Erica Lohman, of American Midwest Ballet in Omaha, and Emmanuelle Hendrickson, of Colorado Ballet Studio Company, will be dancing the role of the Firebird, on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively. From the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Ballet Department, one of the top five ballet programs in the U.S., senior Aram Hengen and junior Gabriel Weiner will alternate in the roles of Prince Ivan in “The Firebird” and the Poet in “Les Sylphides.”

And if Gabriel’s last name sounds familiar, it is. He is the son of Jane and Frank.

“These are the pools of water I grew up in,” Gabriel said. “I was surrounded by it on all sides. What I plan to do with my life is all ballet, teaching, directing. I feel like, as a dancer, you should be looking at your own 20-year-plan. I feel like my parents have given me a firm foundation.”

“Coming back to perform with BTC feels nostalgic to Lohman, as well.

“This is my dance family,” she said. “Coming back here helps me remind myself that I have this community that helps me and supports me; and if these talented humans believe in me, then I should believe in myself.” For tickets and information, visit

Reporter photo by Amy Adams

Guest dancers Gabriel Weiner and Erica Lohman prepare for their roles in “The Firebird.”