About Northeastern Ballet Theatre

 

Northeastern Ballet Theatre offers students the opportunity for a rich, life-long experience through serious training in a professional dance atmosphere.


Northeastern Ballet Theatre (NBT) is the artistic vision and passion  of its founder Edra Toth, former prima ballerina for Boston Ballet Company, who has built a life teaching children and adults the joy of dance. It is the philosophy of NBT that  ballet is an art formWithin a positive and encouraging atmosphere, dancers are taught to develop their unique artistic abilities. Instructors at NBT encourage all dancers to be the best they can be and no drama is tolerated. Northeastern Ballet Theatre is not a competition or recital-driven school. Our classical ballet classes focus on  technique for the entire year, and there are many opportunities for  performance experience with NBT including an annual production of The Nutcracker, a spring/summer production (past productions include Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and original ballets such as The Pirate and the Gypsy, and Dracula). NBT will not conform to arbitrary, artificial standards of perfection. Many students aim for professional dance careers, and others simply enjoy dancing as recreation. NBT appreciates and respects both of these purposes, and feels it can best serve the diversity of its students by offering them the opportunity for a rich, life-long experience through serious training in a professional dance atmosphere. Miss Toth believes that there is an “inner dancer” within each of us waiting to be discovered and that ballet is not only about using your body, but your mind and soul. NBT offers partial and full scholarships to those in need - Miss Toth remembers those who helped her find her life through dance and vows to give that experience to as many others as possible. NBT also offers an 8 week summer intensive for all levels of dancers. 

A message from Northeastern Ballet Theatre’s director, Edra Toth:

Ballet is our business, our only business. Northeastern Ballet Theatre and its training school teach ballet and only ballet. Ballet is our business and only business, and ballet is the foundation of ALL forms of dance. Much like what the piano is to music, ballet is to dance and movement. It is much easier for a proficient ballet dancer or student to cross over to other modalities of dance than it is for a student trained in other forms of dance (ie, modern, tap, jazz, etc) to transition into doing a ballet piece. Auditions for Broadway musicals historically hire proficient ballet dancers. The audition consists of a ballet class and the auditioning dancer has to know the French vocabulary French names of the steps) and be able to execute ballet double pirouettes both right and left.

Professionalism is the cornerstone and foundation of Northeastern Ballet Theatre. Students are taught the discipline and protocols of a ballet studio. Any one of Northeastern Ballet Theatre's students can take classes at any major professional ballet schools (ie, Boston Ballet, New York City Ballet, etc) and understand the combinations and ballet etiquette that is universally required. The serious, as well as recreational student receives the same level of professional instruction. There is a prescribed way to execute movement, and if not taught correctly, can lead to life long debilitating injury to the joints, spine, and soft tissues.

Performing is a valuable part of a ballet student’s education. Not only is Northeastern Ballet Theatre unsurpassed in setting the standard of excellence in ballet instruction and training, but of the performance experience as well. Northeastern Ballet Theatre offers three major productions a year: a spring performance, fall performance, and The Nutcracker, annually. Northeastern Ballet Theatre's The Nutcracker is the original Boston Ballet version that I grew up with and in which I danced as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and as such it is unique and stands alone. All of Northeastern Ballet Theatre's productions are professional and the youngest dancers get to experience working with the older, advanced dancers, including professionals. The productions are not mandatory so parents can pick and choose in which productions to have their child participate. Northeastern Ballet Theatre has a full wardrobe department and all costumes are owned by Northeastern Ballet Theatre, so parents do not need to invest money in costumes that their child will never wear again.

Northeastern Ballet Theatre "grows our own." We can take a three year old, and if that child wants it, Northeastern Ballet Theatre can take them right up through to the professional ranks. Northeastern Ballet Theatre can “talk the talk” and “walk the walk” because it does so. We do not offer this level of training so that our students can reach the highest level with Northeastern Ballet Theatre and then go nowhere. Northeastern Ballet Theatre trained students go on to such prestigious ballet institutions as the Rock School in Philadelphia, American Ballet Theatre's summer program in New York, the Ellison School in New York, etc.

Northeastern Ballet Theatre delivers to all of its students, both recreational and serious, a high level and standard of excellence that is second to none in New Hampshire. Northeastern Ballet Theatre is not a "dancing school." Classes in aerial, contemporary, lyric, hip-hop, jazz, modern, or tap, are NOT offered. Since ballet is the foundation of all movement, it is always easier for a ballet dancer (or a student proficient in ballet) to cross over into other modalities than vice versa. Northeastern Ballet Theatre NOT a competition school. Ballet is an art form not a sport. While ballet trains the body and the mind to work in unison and harmony and is very physically demanding, there is also an artistic component to it. The spirit of the dancer can shine through once the technique has been mastered and thus can achieve a level of freedom that is incomparable. Northeastern Ballet Theatre is NOT recital-driven. When you see words like "showcase" or "workshop" those are recitals, but with different names. In recent years the word "recital" has become an anathema to " dancing schools" and a lot of them have dropped that word. Northeastern Ballet Theatre does NOT pretend to be something that it is not. Ballet is our business and only business so we don't delve into other areas such as putting on a "tap" show or doing a "modern" program. Don't be fooled by "dancing schools" attempting classical ballets; they are not the "real deal".

 


The Incomparable Edra Toth

"Incomparable (adjective) - without an equal in quality or extent; matchless"

It has been said that Miss Edra Toth’s life should be made into a movie and when you read her story, we think you will agree. Edra Toth was born in 1952 in Budapest, Hungary, daughter of Terézia (Németh) and István Toth. Despite the Soviet occupation, Edra’s childhood was as sheltered as her parents could make it. She was surrounded by a large extended family and had what she remembers as an idyllic childhood.

She didn’t know it at the time, but 1956 was the year that would change her life forever. 1956 was a year that no Hungarian living at that time would ever forget. After living under the oppressive communist regime since the end of World War II, the Hungarian people revolted against their puppet government and its Soviet masters throwing them out of their country. Hungarian’s tasted freedom for the first time in many years, but it was not to last.

As the Soviets moved to retake Hungary and as artillery shells were pounding the city, Edra’s family bribed a secret policeman to give them the papers they needed to leave the City of Budapest. Their “deal” was unique in the sense that the secret policeman made his cooperation conditional. The Toth’s had to help his wife and infant son escape also.

Once safely out of Budapest, the family abandoned the truck and fled on foot cross country towards the Austrian border, the only border open to them for escape. The family hid during the day and traveled at night knowing they would be imprisoned or killed if they were caught by the Soviets. The Toth’s, Terezia, Istvan and Edra, walked in the company of hundreds of other refugees towards safety. They had many close brushes with Soviet patrols and lived in constant fear of discovery. No one spoke, babies were gagged, no fires were lit…..it was a very harrowing experience for the family. But the Toth’s never gave up.

Upon reaching Austria, the Toth’s (and thousands of other Hungarian refugees) applied for asylum in the United States. The Toth’s were accepted and settled in the Boston area. It was not an easy life in America. They were very poor barely able to afford an attic apartment in a tenement building. But, Edra remembers her parents working many jobs to make ends meet and doing it joyfully because they were “free”. They were working hard to build a life for themselves in their adopted country.

While her parents worked, Edra was enrolled in school. She was given a key to the apartment (a true latchkey kid) and told to lock herself in the apartment after school. An energetic child, Edra remembers this as a time that she would dance for hours to music on the radio. It was at this young age that fate (or God) intervened. Her landlady asked Edra’s parents if she could pay for dance lessons for Edra because she wanted someone to keep her daughter company at the studio. Edra’s parents said yes and the rest, as they say, is history.

Edra was immediately recognized has having enormous talent. She was far above anyone in her class and the darling of her dance instructor. After just two years of dance lessons, Edra’s mother, Terezia, saw that the local dance school was not the proper outlet for her daughter’s talents. She made the bold move of approaching the founder of the Boston Ballet, the famous Miss E. Virginia Willams to ask her to allow her daughter to tryout.

Edra was only 10 years old and the smallest person in the tryout. She remembers this imposing Miss Williams pushing her and testing her. Edra cried tears of frustration and feared she had failed. She hadn’t! She was accepted and began her formal training. Her parents scrimped and saved to send her to dance school at the Boston Ballet. Her talent was recognized further when the Ford Foundation awarded her several grants so she could further her education under Miss Williams. Edra’s talent was recognized and nurtured under her tutelage.

At the tender young age of 13, Miss Edra danced a principal role on stage with the Ballet and by age sixteen had ascended to Prima Ballerina.

Her professional career took her all over the world, allowing her to dance with the leading dancers of her day (Rudolf Nureyev, Ivan Nagy, Edward Vilella and others) and to dance the most challenging parts in the ballets such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Les Corsaires, Romeo and Juliet, and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.

Miss Edra even danced at the White House for President Johnson and the First Lady.

Her favorite conductor was the leader of the Boston Pops, the famous Arthur Fiedler, a fellow Hungarian. He used to say that Miss Edra was his favorite ballerina and he loved playing beautiful music for her.

Edra Toth danced professionally until the age of 45, an unheard of age in her day. Her impressive technique and classical training kept her in demand well beyond other ballerinas of her time.

What was also impressive is that Miss Edra had already been teaching for over 20 years when she retired! So, upon retirement, she did what was natural for her…..she became a ballet teacher.

She taught for many years in the Greater Boston Area, but had an opportunity to open a studio in Wolfeboro, NH in 2003. She enjoyed teaching New Hampshire kids so much that she eventually phased out of her school in Massachusetts to bring her classical style of ballet training to the “Live Free or Die” State.

And, New Hampshire and its kids are much the better for her decision.