Farrell Ballet Theatre (FBT) is a performing ballet company dedicated to preserving the rich tradition of classical ballet. FBT provides ballet performances, ballet lessons and community outreach activities to serve the greater Kalamazoo community. FBT performances feature guest artists from the Grand Rapids Ballet, Michigan's only professional ballet company. FBT offers ballet classes for both children and adults from ages 4 to 80.
In 1985, Shèr Marie Farrell founded Ballet Theatre at Kalamazoo College to teach classes in the rich, classical tradition of the Russian style and to ensure a strong sense of dance on the campus of Kalamazoo College. After many successful years, a collective decision was made in 2004 by Ms. Farrell and her dancers to change the company name to Farrell Ballet Theatre, reflecting an intensified commitment of the dancers to one another, the community of Kalamazoo, and the art of dance itself. Today, Ms. Farrell offers her expertise and knowledge of dance to students in the Kalamazoo community through year-round ballet classes at the Farrell Ballet Theatre Academy, and as the Artistic Director of the Farrell Ballet Theatre performing company, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit organization established in 2008.
Both the Academy and performing company of FBT are designed to provide a positive, safe environment for young dancers, where respect and compassion are taught alongside ballet technique and history. Members of the company are required to strive for excellence, high standards, and strong character both in dance and life. Further, the objective is to develop a greater awareness of human responsibility: to seek peace and live and work for justice, mercy, and beauty. Ms. Farrell has said, "it does us no good to move gracefully through a world polluted by hate if we do not respond to injustices." To this end, as examples, the company seeks to "serve and not be served" -raising funds and donating proceeds from performances to a variety of charities that support women, children, and families in need.
Farrell Ballet Theatre offers its dancers and audiences the opportunity to engage not only in the art of dancing, but also the art of living-through love, dancing, and love of dancing. Ballet shows us that Life and Art are the same concept–thus every movement, every gesture, offers us the power to transform ourselves and the world around us.
Shèr Marie Farrell, Founder of the Farrell Ballet Theatre at Kalamazoo College, received her BA from Georgian Court University, her MA from Binghamton University, and a Certificate from Sorbonne, Universite de Paris. As a member of Ballet Binghamton, she received formal training at the Robertson School of Ballet, the New York City Ballet, and the Academi Bolshoi Theatre in Minsk, Byelorussia. Ms. Farrell holds nine teaching certificates, including a Diploma in the Vaganova (Russian) Method from the Bolshoi Theatre.
Ms. Farrell has been teaching since 1975 and has staged many of the great classics including Giselle, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, The Nutcracker and Pas de Quatre. In addition, she has choreographed over 100 pieces and several original ballets.
In 1995, Ms. Farrell was invited to present and perform her choreography at Festival D’Off in Avignon, France. Thereafter, she performed throughout southern France and central Bosnia. Ms. Farrell is a member of the International Red Cross and as a designated Humanitarian Aide for Children of War Lifeline made nine trips to central Bosnia as a member of the UN Peacekeeping Team.
In 2006, Ms. Farrell was a recipient of the prestigious Women In Town award, given to “local, female, visual and performing artists who have established their own innovative institutions in the community and whose deep and generous ties to Kalamazoo are expressed through their exquisite art and spirited performance.”
Ms. Farrell currently teaches classical ballet at Kalamazoo College and Farrell Ballet Theatre.
"You may call me Madame."
The Shèr Award is a prestigious trophy that is given out to a dancer that shows true mastery of technique and artistry. This award reflects not only the skill of the dancer, but also the high level that each class and each dancer is held to. A winner of the Shèr Award understands the importance of practice, and embodies the philosophy that every practice is a performance.
“I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one's being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes, in some area, an athlete of God. Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.”
― Martha Graham