Friday, February 10th, is a night of classical and contemporary ballet at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial in Grosse Pointe Farms. Students of Mary Ellen Cooper will perform to the music of many classical composers, featuring the Polovotsian dances by Alexander Borodin.
This performance is the annual recital of the students of Mary Ellen Cooper, a most dedicated teacher. I studied under Mary Ellen Cooper for twelve years, and I look back on those years with amazement and gratitude. Through my bad days, Mary Ellen never once gave up on me. Through my good days, she never let a chance slip to challenge me.
When Mary Ellen was a little girl, she peered in on a classroom lesson of ballet and fell in love with it. For decades and continuing every day, Mary Ellen shares her love of ballet, from the classroom to the stage. To her students she is an example of inspiring dedication and passion for ballet. With discipline and encouragement, Mary Ellen does all she can for each of her students. Mary Ellen once compared the development of a dancer with the growth of a flower. As a flower grows from a seed full of potential to a full and real bloom, so a dancer progresses.
Mary Ellen uses the Cecchetti method of ballet, which structures a dancer’s education so that every step is learned in a steady progression from preparatory exercises to final touches. The Cecchetti method develops a dancer’s skill in every area of ballet, from exercises at the bar and adagios in the middle of the room to choreographing and performing one’s own solo and dancing en pointe.
I will never forget the last dress rehearsal before the recital of my twelfth year under Mary Ellen’s instruction. After performing my favorite part in the recital, Mary Ellen came up to me and said, “That is the best I have ever seen you dance.”
Under Mary Ellen’s instruction, nothing less than excellence is the goal. With encouragement and discipline, Mary Ellen dedicates herself to leading every students to that goal. Through the Cecchetti method and the annual recital, she turns the potential in each of her students into the full and real bloom of accomplishment in ballet.