Established in 1982 by Jerre James and Bette Joachimi, BAE is a nonprofit organization created to promote and perpetuate the art of dance. With the retirement of Jerre James in 2001, ballet mistress Cathleen Huling became BAE’s artistic director.
Chosen in open auditions each May, a group of 14-20 dancers of middle school through college age is selected for membership in this exceptional dance group. Ensemble members must take two classical ballet classes a week in addition to the weekly 3-hour Ensemble class (with live accompaniment) and rehearsal block. They also benefit from outstanding instruction by a variety of guest artists and visiting teachers from such organizations as American Ballet Theatre, American Repertory Ballet, Ballet Quad Cities, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Boston Ballet, DanceWorks Chicago, Education for the Arts, Grand Rapids Ballet, Hubbard Street 2, Royal Ballet (London), Rutgers University, Tokyo Ballet, Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers, and Western Michigan University. Frequently, guest choreographers set new works for mixed repertory concerts on BAE members.
The BAE Board of Directors plans and implements the season’s program, which is designed to include full-length ballets as well as mixed repertory and collaborative events with area dancers, musicians, and singers in various venues.
Enrichment activities are an important part of our history. In 2002, the BAE board established the W. Dale and Geraldine Crooks Scholarship to provide assistance for those serious dancers who wish to pursue summer studies outside Ballet Arts School of Dance. The scholarship supports programs in dance-related fields that enrich and further the recipient’s dance education.
In the past 10 years, 76 girls have received awards totaling $23,865 for summer studies. Programs attended include American Ballet Theatre Michigan Summer Intensive, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Cecchetti Council of America International Summer School, Grand Rapids Ballet Summer Institute, Joffrey Ballet Dance Lab, Point Park University International Summer Intensive, Syracuse University Dance Intensive, Texas Christian University, and Turning Pointe School of Dance.
BAE also funds annual field trips that enable Ensemble members to attend professional dance productions in and out of Michigan, including performances by American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Quad Cities, Dayton Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Western Michigan University Department of Dance.
Jerre studied ballet in
Jerre holds a Master’s Degree in theater from USC. In 1982, her interest in working to develop talent in young dancers led her to found Ballet Arts Ensemble. In 1997, she was awarded the Kalamazoo Community Medal of Arts; and in 2007, she became the first recipient of the Community Dance Advocacy Award bestowed by the WMU Partners in Dance.
A former member of the Western Michigan Cecchetti Council, Jerre is currently a member of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Partners in Dance.
Cathleen holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from
Cathleen has been teaching ballet and character dance at Ballet Arts since 1982 and became co-owner of the studio in 1991. In 2001, she became Artistic Director of Ballet Arts Ensemble after serving as performer and Ballet Mistress since its inception in 1982. Her love for ballet is reflected in BAE’s repertoire. She is most noted for her productions of full-length ballets including Nutcracker, Cinderella, Peter and the Wolf, Red Shoes, Aladdin’s Magic Lamp, La Boutique Fantasque, and Café Parisian.
In 2010, Cathleen premiered a brand new production of the fairytale, The 12 Dancing Princesses. This father-daughter artistic creation—with original piano music composed by W. Dale Crooks, Cathleen’s father—brought together BAE and members of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra (KSO) under the baton of Dr. Barry Ross.
Her choreography has been selected on numerous occasions for performances with the KSO’s Youth Concert Series and Family Discovery Series as well as the Michigan Youth Arts Festival. The movie debut of her choreography can be seen in Cherry, which was filmed in Kalamazoo and featured at the 2010 Saugatuck Waterfront Film Festival.
Cathleen is a member of Partners in Dance and Dance Masters of America.