Choreographer, dance educator takes final bow

Choreographer, dance educator takes final bow

The marquee at the Florida Theatre was ablaze with the message “Thank you Miss Beth” for Beth Marks, artistic director of Ballet Arts Centre in St. Nicholas, who took her final bow on June 13.

BMarks_04Following Marks’ spring concert “Fantasia,” alumnae and current dancers joined her onstage for an encore, performing her jazz warm-up routine. Students and parents celebrated her dedication to dance with a reception afterward in the Florida Theatre lobby.

After 30 years as choreographer and dance educator Marks said, “There is a lot of history. It’s tough – very emotional.”

The show will go on, as instructor Sydney Keister steps in as new artistic director of the Ballet Arts Centre.

Marks donned her first ballet slippers around age three at Ballet Arts Centre, which was founded by her mother, Betty Balfour Marks, over 50 years ago. After training locally and with internationally acclaimed master teachers such as Alvin Ailey, Luigi and Martha Graham, Marks performed professionally throughout Europe for five years before returning home to assume responsibility for the studio.

BMarks_03The St. Nicholas resident has been actively involved in the Jacksonville dance community having served as ballet mistress for Florida Ballet, Director of First Coast Nutcracker, as adjunct faculty at Douglas Anderson and is a founding director of Community Nutcracker now in its 24th year.

Riverside resident April Nudo Patterson, who trained with Marks in high school and in the 1990s, has a daughter who has studied at Ballet Arts Centre for five years.

Patterson said, “Beth taught students to develop sound technique and showed diligent care with instruction. She has a way of keeping up with music and trends of the era – just one of the ways that she related to her students.”

BMarks_01Keister, who has worked with Marks for the past three years, trained locally, including at La Villa School of the Arts and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in dance from Florida State University. She said she is achieving her dream of having a dance studio and remarked, “It is an honor to continue the Ballet Arts Centre legacy. I want to give it the love and passion that Beth has given – I want to make her proud.”

By Peggy Harrell Jennings
Resident Community News

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