How it all started

By Lauren Rubino

Watch out Ballet Arizona. There is a new ballet company in town.

Convergence Ballet had its first show, Debut, at Mesa’s Arts Center to conclude the summer program Saturday, August 28th, 2010. Every seat was filled in the theatre, with friends, family, other dancers and choreographers. Jennifer Cafarella, the company’s artistic director, was ecstatic by the full house, but intimidated by the notable people in the audience.

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Cafarella formed the non-profit Convergence Ballet Company when she couldn’t find exactly what she wanted to do in the dance world. Summer is the off-season for most companies and many dancers are not working. That inspired Cafarella to give them work. Cafarella said a lot of the dancers who hail from the Phoenix area return for the summer to visit their families.

“They are not working, and I wasn’t, so why don’t I do it in the off-season?” said Cafarella. All the dancers were personally invited to be a part of the company. Either they were spotted at a dance studio or an open company class, and asked if they were interested in being part of the new venture.

Juliana Fisher was taking an open class at Ballet Arizona when Cafarella asked her if she would join the group. Fisher said yes. “It is really unique because it is a compilation of dancers from all different companies,” said Fisher. She also liked how not all the dancers came from traditional classical ballet companies. Some have modern backgrounds or even musical theatre backgrounds, as well as some ballet training.

Nicole Olson, a choreographer and dancer for the company, got involved because she is a friend of Cafarella. She wants to come back next season. “I think it is really interesting to have the pick-up company in the summer and it will be interesting to see how it develops,” said Olson.

As artistic director Cafarella chose which choreographers would help her produce the summer show. She highly respects everyone she hires. She says she likes to surround herself with talented people to learn from. “I made a million mistakes and learned a thousand lessons,” said Cafarella.

Convergence Ballet not only helped out dancers who were looking for a job over the summer, but Cafarella and the company also partnered up with the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Part of the ticket proceeds from the show went to the hospital. Around $500 was donated. More events like dance classes with some of the children and making tiaras and crowns, are in the making for the two organizations.  “We don’t have a future without children,” said Cafarella. “We want to help out the community with the way the economy is and we should be able to help others out.”