CARBONDALE — When Anthony Jerkunica was growing up as a kid in Laguna Beach, Calif., he surfed, skateboarded and played football. He also started ballet dancing at 8.
“I danced with a ballet company with so many selfless dancers,” he said. “They did everything, from dancing and costumes and stage clean-up. They were so dedicated, and they were my role models in dance. That’s why I started dancing.”
Jerkunica said he also started ballet to help him be a stronger, faster athlete.
“When I learned ballet it just enhanced my physical awareness,” he said. “Ballet is about freedom through discipline, and it has always balanced my life. No matter what was going on in my life, it has always felt like dance could help me. Like the elixir to the soul. We really find that dance is an activity that kids can use in the rest of their lives, I think it’s a lifetime of better alignment, better health. My personal feeling is just moving and freeing up your soul is really what it’s all about.”
Over the years, Jerkunica has danced in New York for several ballet companies. He also danced in college and has brought his near-lifetime experience with the art form to co-establish the Bonedale Ballet youth dance troupe and the Coredination, a Movement Studio, with his wife, Alexandra.
“Getting grounded and centered, being present — that’s kind of our philosophy with dance and Pilates,” he said. “Just the movement itself is therapeutic. We offer highly trained movement, if people want that.”
The Bonedale Ballet is a new venture premiering the dance of valley youth in this Saturday’s “Carnival of the Animals” performances at 2 and 6 p.m. at Bridges in Carbondale. The show stars close to 30 of the Roaring Fork Valley’s youth doing their best interpretations of animals.
“Alexandra and I used to dance with a lot of children’s performances, and we really saw an opportunity for kids in the valley to build a youth ballet company in Carbondale,” Jerkunica said. “It’s a way of giving visibility to our local dancers, and to inspire more kids to get into youth ballet.”
Jerkunica said he and Alexandra chose the animal theme because kids, and humans in general, have a special connection with them. He saw a perfect connection with his new youth dance troupe.
“It’s always fun for the students and the dancers, and it’s fun for the audience to see a human interpretation of an animal,” he said. “In a way, we kind of used the different dancers’ personalities for their choreography. We really liked the idea of kids learning the technique and picking an animal to interpret. “There’s ballet, gymnastics and sort of modern dance. Our roots are in ballet, but we’re also very eclectic. We are driven to accommodate the growing demand for mindfully crafted core movement and quality children’s, teen and adult ballet in the midvalley.”
Jerkunica said that along with the dance, the “Carnival of the Animals” costumes make the performance. Carbondale dancer and art teacher Rochelle Norwood has dedicated many volunteer hours to the Bonedale Ballet show, he said.
Poetry will also take center stage as valley poet Annie Flynn will read her poetry between acts.
“She will offer a plethora of romantic and animal-based subject matter to punctuate between each piece,” Jerkunica said. “The idea is to get people to stir their imaginations, satisfy that need for dance through poetry. We kind of believe we don’t want poetry and ballet to die.”
Jerkunica said he is honored to pass along those valuable experiences learned from dancing as a child, as well as an adult.
“We are enthusiastic to pass on the decades-long quest to refine movement from the seeds planted by countless luminaries in ballet lore that our professional careers enabled us to study under. Passing on this training is front and center,” Jerkunica said. “Passing on the joy, precision and control we garnered from renowned teachers we encountered in our professional careers is at the core of Coredination’s philosophy.”
Bonedale Ballet was established about six months ago, and is gaining traction. The dancers have a new 2,600-square-foot studio in which to practice in Coredination’s newly completed studio performance space next to the new Carbondale library.
“We aspire to really grow. We need funding, asking people if they want to get behind it,” Jerkunica said. “We have the teachers, we have the schedule with our new summer programs and fall performances. We are inviting kids to audition by taking one of our classes.”
Jerkunica said Bonedale Ballet has installed the means to mint trained dancers in Carbondale.
“We are seeing tremendous improvement in our ‘Carnival’ ballet students as a result of their commitment.
“Having refined our technique, expression and performance skills in hundreds of ballets we are excited to help our dancers share their newly minted personal best performances with audiences,” he said. “Our state-of-the-art studio, with the midvalley’s only sprung dance floor for creative movement, technique classes and performances assures a safe environment for aspiring dancers and professionals. As increasing enrollment continues, we look forward to helping students groom their abilities and embrace their dreams.”
Saturday’s show should give audiences a peek at what Bonedale Ballet has in store for dance arts for youth in the valley, no matter their level.
“We often see our students benefit in immediate technical ability and a long-term awareness of body kinetics that pays dividends in grace, posture, performance and flexibility in a world where movement aesthetics are eclipsed by quick fix movement modalities,” he said. “Refinement, expression, concentration, fluidity and strength work in concert to apply these principles to school work, relationships and a more comprehensive way of problem solving.”
For a schedule and performance information, visit www.bonedaleballet.com.