NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - This Saturday will mark the 40th year the Gobel School of Dance has taken the stage to perform Swan Lake. In that time only two women have directed some of the best dancers from around East Texas.
When the dancers wow the crowd at Stephen F. Austin's Turner Auditorium, it will be under the direction of Katie Parr-Smith. Smith is no stranger to the show. She was once the lead dancer for the Gobel School under founder Maryse Gobel. Smith had made a name for her self. Smith left Nacogdoches to continue dance is San Antonio before heading to college in New York City. After college she became a professional ballet dancer in Minnesota.
"I had a professional career in Minnesota and got injured so I had to stop dancing," Smith said. "It was not on the top of my list at first because I had a full time job in Austin teaching ball room dance. "I just thought it would be an adventure and I am really glad I decided to go. It would be sad if there would be no classical ballet here because Mayrse started that here so long ago in a small town."
Smith took over her mentor's school in 2008 and has continued the tradition Gobel started.
"She would first come to rehearsals and watch everything," Smith said. "But then she stopped and let me go with it. She will be in the crowd tomorrow when we perform."
Smith is not the only person coming back to the studio. Many parents that used to perform the Russian classic now have their children learning from Smith.
"I was excited when I moved back to Lufkin and saw Katie was in charge,"Dalene Merrel said. "I knew the tradition of classical ballet would continue. She had that vision and that goal for the school "
Smith now spends her time offering advice to the dancers but sometimes you can spot her on the stage. Smith will have a small dance number in the show. Smith misses the stage but she knows she is giving it up to a talent pool that continues to grow in the pineywoods.
"It is amazing," Smith said. "The level of technique has grown in the past 4 or 5 years. It's almost better to be watching them dance on stage."
The annal performance of Swan Lake will take place on May 21 at the SFA Turner Theater. Tickets will be sold at the door starting at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m.
Ticket information can be found here.