The Woman Behind The Scenes At The CRYB: Monika Alch

Monika Alch is the woman in charge of productions at the Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet. Furthermore, she can’t remember when the tutu was not her style of choice.

“Ballet and opera have always been an overwhelming part of my life,” the CRYB artistic director said, during a flurry of final rehearsals of the “Nutcracker” scheduled this week at the Reg Lenna.

“Actually, I was only 4 when I started ballet training in Austria, first at the Vienna Conservatory of Music,” she said. At the age of 15 she danced her way to a soloist diploma awarded by the Vienna State Opera where she also had trained.

Nor did classes stop there. As a soloist dancer, over the years, she would make a number of professional appearances in a number of prestigious opera houses and theaters.

In addition she would seize the opportunity to study under Rosella Hightower, a native American of Choctow descent who achieved fame throughout Europe and the United States. One of Monika’s fellow students at that time was the Rudolf Nureyev, who enrolled sometime after his defection in 1961 from his native Soviet Union. Before his death in 1993, he would become known as the most famous ballet dancer of the 20th century.

Finally, in the 1970s, Monika and Mario Alch – a gifted and popular American opera tenor, who had been appearing for years throughout Europe – were married. Soon, they settled in the United States where they have remained.

During those years, Monika held teaching positions at the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music at Winchester Va., performed at Columbus, Ohio’s Ballet Metropolitan and held instructional posts there. She also operated a private ballet studio while in Columbus.

This past season, she taught classes in ballet and dance at the State University of New York at Fredonia.

Then for 10 years, The Lily Dale Fine Arts Council, with the Alches at the helm, offered weekend concerts, ballet and a wide variety of other events, most of which were performed on the council’s floating stage behind the old Leolyn Hotel on Dale Drive, between Lily Dale and the village of Cassadaga.

Which brings us up to the year 2000, when Monika was finally talked into joining CRYB. “I had never taught kids before, and without that experience I was reluctant to give it a try,” she said. Looking back now, I realize how well it has worked, and looking back, I also see how much this program (CRYB) benefits our students by providing an opportunity and privilege to work with soloists from the New York City Ballet and Milwaukee Ballet. And, we always make sure those who are heart-and-soul interested in pursuing ballet get financial help if it’s needed.”

See MONIKA, Page D2

Monika

From Page D1

“In one case, a local boy would never have been aware of his talent or love of ballet, if he had not finally agreed to accompany his friend to CRYB,” the artistic director said. “The friend soon disappeared, but the boy remained. He had found his niche. Today, that boy – Jordon Leeper – is a soloist with the North Carolina’s Charlotte Ballet.”

Other students continue to be involved with a number of large institutions such as: San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Chautauqua Institution, Ballet Metropolitan, Suny Conservatory of Dance, Pittsburgh Ballet, Point Park University, Charlotte Ballet and the Jose Mateo Ballet Theater at Boston.

As for Monika, she’s looking forward to her 15th year as CRYB’s artistic director. Even now, she wastes no time in lining up all plans for the spring program – items such as choreography, costumes and all the behind-the-scenes work that goes on behind the scenes of every production.

“Nutcracker” will be performed tonight and Saturday at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts. Tonight’s performance will begin at 7:30, while Saturday’s performance will begin at 2 p.m.

Ticket prices are: $30 for loge seating, $25 for adults, $15 for students, and $10 for children 6 and under. Tickets may be reserved by calling the Reg Lenna box office at 484-7070.