• Company
    Meet the members of the company, learn about our choreography, and view our repertoire in our company section.
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  • News
    Check out our latest videos in the video section.
    Duo
  • Mission
    The Hartfel Foundation, a part of The John C Art Ballet, believes in giving everyone equal access to the arts. Learn more about our mission and donate to this worthy cause today.
    Unity

Choreography

The JohnC Art Ballet performs original artistic works by its Founder and Artistic Director, John C. Welch. We don’t perform the standard classics, such as Swan Lake and the Nutcracker, because we feel that there are already enough qualified companies presenting them.

Fluid, expressive, and bold movement is the hallmark style of The JohnC Art Ballet. The choreography transforms the classical form into a natural and organic art: rustic, yet refined.

Through a daring use of space, freedom of expression, and artistic virtuosity, it advances the natural progression of classical ballet into a new and exciting movement language. It creates a landscape of movement that entices the observer to consider their own potential.

The choreography is designed to bring the dance closer to the observer, offering an intimate connection that allows the audience to live vicariously through those on stage. The focus is to impart a sense of liberation for each person, not to make a political point or depict a storybook tale.

The diversification of body types and personalities adds a rich aesthetic backdrop for the choreography. It demands an inner understanding from the dancer, a sense of themselves and the movement that is far removed from the traditional relationship with ballet. The personality of each dancer has a distinct influence on the creation of the choreography. It is collaboration between music and dancer, celebrating the character of both.

Yet in all of this it is not a matter of trying to be clever; rather, it is a truly indulgent experience of the senses. The uniqueness of the movement remains authentic, not contrived or predictable. The aim is not to be revolutionary, but evolutionary, continually promoting the natural sense of spontaneity.

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Repertoire

Original Works by John C. Welch
View samples of Choreography in our Video section or at our YouTube Channel.

A Day at the Fair

– An Appalachian themed suite of seven dances. Set to music by Edgar Meyer and Mark O’Connor.

  • Appalachia Waltz
  • P.C.’s Jig
  • First Impressions
  • Pickles
  • Solstice Hymn
  • Butterfly’s Day Out
  • Old Country Fairytale

In Spirit

– A suite of three dances set to music by modern Estonian composer Arvo Pärt.

  • Fastina Lente
  • Summa
  • Cantus

Christmas Hymns

– A suite of six dances set to 16th century Christian hymns, they seek to honor all manner of spirituality without focusing on a particular religion. They capture the essence of the spirit and the generosity of the Christmas season.

L’Histoire du Soldat Tango Variation

– Originally performed in collaboration with California Concert Artists for their full length production of Stravinsky’s L’ Histoire du Soldat.

Baroque to Brazil

- Set to classical guitar and violin, John Welch’s newest work brings to life the beauty of two worlds separated by distance, but joined by a shared love of expression and music.

  • Telemann Fantasy # 12
    • Vivace
    • Presto
    • Moderato
  • Brisa Do Oceano
  • Telemann Fantasy #4
    • Vivace
    • Grave
    • Allegro
  • Emboscada

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Artistic Staff

| John C. Welch | Veronica Etelka |

John C. Welch, Founder & Artistic Director

John C. Welch

John C. Welch is the Artistic Director and Ballet Master of The JohnC Art Ballet. He is the creator of the Cradle Method, an innovative approach to learning the art of classical ballet, and is the Director of the Box Dance Studio and Ballet Academy. He is also the Director and Lead Instructor for the Step in the Dark dance program for blind and visually-impaired children.

Under the direction of Maria Lewis, he has performed as a soloist at the Pacific Ballet Theatre (Vancouver, BC). Mr. Welch held a position as an Associate Professor on the Dance Faculty of Scripps College in Claremont, CA where he developed a technique for Beginning Ballet through Level IV and taught Pedagogy and choreography. Mr. Welch acted as the Director of the Dancer's Mind School of Dance Arts in Santa Barbara, CA. He has conducted private coaching with soloists from the Valerie Houston Dance Company and the Santa Barbara Ballet Company. He also has worked with body alignment and awareness with patients referred by local medical doctors, including work with athletes and weight trainers to prevent injuries and conducting choreography for body builders.

"John's method of dance would superficially appear to be a radical departure from the accepted norms of traditional ballet. I prefer to consider his concepts revolutionary."

—Michelle C. White, Assistant Professor, University of Montana

Personal Statement

Dear Friend:

Dance isn't a matter of bending knees or torsos, but of bending minds and spirits. This art delves into dimensional thinking that other disciplines don't dare attempt.

Imagine an absolutely perfect world. Everything has its perfect place. Every word is absolutely correct. There is no way to communicate, except perfectly. Imagine how miserable and suffocating that world would be, without the possibility of variation: With no place for the mercurial or capricious. This world would painfully lack Nature and all the glory of its spontaneous embodiment.

The JohnC Art Ballet places complete trust in the inspired breath that spontaneity can bring. For those who are willing to surrender their need for perfectionism, this approach facilitates a ubiquitous understanding of the meaning and power of potential that resides in the self.

Each member of the JohnC Art Ballet does not work to be perfect, or absolutely upright, but instead cultivates an understanding of their frail and alterable natures. Our goal is to make the hidden nuances within the individual clearer and more influential. The JohnC Art Ballet strives to discover "the freedom of commitment." Spontaneity and invention empower those who desire liberation from the confining closet of perfectionism.

I like to dwell on what I call the "one-degree syndrome." Imagine two lines that are separated by one degree. At first glance, they seem to be very close together. But then imagine these two lines trailing off into an infinite distance. Now the distance between the two lines has the potential of becoming infinite as well. Now that one degree has become a rather significant distance. However, simply by shifting one of the lines by a single degree, the lines experiences a profound and significant change as it moves closer to "connecting" with the other line.

The same principle applies to a person's self-concept and creative capacities. Sometimes a person's perception of their creative capacity is a mere "one degree" separate from reality. Simply changing that person's awareness, even slightly, can have the same significant impact as moving one of the lines closer to the other. As self-concept and creative capacity move closer together, the dancer experiences profound change. Its range of influence extends into the whole of a person's life and increasingly broadens their creativity as an artist. He or she begins to move more fluidly, with more strength of soul. The dance becomes an organic experience that, in turn, brings the audience one degree closer to the art.

This is one process that I use to broaden the scope of each dancer's understanding of their own strengths and inner velocity. One significant degree at a time.

At your service,

John C. Welch
Artistic Director, The JohnC Art Ballet

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Veronica Etelka, Associate Artistic Director & Principal Dancer

Veronica Etelka

Veronica is a founding member of The JohnC Art Ballet and The Hartfel Foundation, and has been performing with the company as a Principal Dancer since May of 2001. She has danced in many original choreographic works by John Welch, including Appalachian Interpretations, In Spirit, Christmas Hymns, the Tango variation from Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat, and Baroque to Brazil. Veronica teaches at the Box Dance Studio as an instructor in ballet, and as an Assistant Instructor in the Step in the Dark dance program for the blind. She gained her BA degree in Dance from the University of California at Irvine.

Personal Statement

"I thought I was a decent dancer when I first met John: not fabulous, or wonderful, or even good, just decent. I had an image of what I wanted to be, but that image rarely reached beyond mediocrity. Deep down inside existed a child who had daring dreams; dreams of being expressive and virtuosic. But that dreamer, that child who still loved the art of dance, was so smothered beneath practicality and prejudices of the real world that I doubt she even knew she was still alive. Somewhere in the midst of trying to be someone else, or simply not to be myself, I had forgotten who I really was.

It was like a bubble surrounded me, protecting me from what I knew was coming?failure. "Decent" dancers do not have successful dance careers. And I don't think I've ever heard of a "decent" painter, or musician, or sculptor who became a true and inspirational artist.

So when I came to John for classes, I had already decided who I was and who I could be. In my arrogance I thought I knew best. I had figured it out: I knew my limitations, I knew my potential, I knew what I could be and I scoffed, outwardly at least, at anyone who told me otherwise.

Enter John. And enter upheaval, frustration, aggravation, and true emotional distress. In essence, the bubble shattered.

John challenged every limitation I had ever constructed. He got inside my head and knew me better than I knew myself. He saw that child who still dreamed wild, impossible dreams and he became determined to see her succeed. I had been told that I didn't have the body for a classical dancer, I didn't have the facility or the talent, and that it was just too hard and not worth it. One of my teachers even told my classmates and I not to bother becoming a professional because it didn't pay well enough. None of us would ever get past the corps de ballet level.

But John was different. He saw past my anger and frustration to a person who still clung to a passion for her art. He believed in me because he believed that anything manmade could be mastered, and ballet was just one more man-made form of expression. He didn't subscribe to the prejudices and stereotypes that everyone else in the ballet world did. He didn't just pay lip service to the idea that anyone could succeed. He acted on it. He challenged. He pushed me to discover my real potential and not simply accept the standard that I had been spoon-fed.

I cannot express the distress this caused in my life. My house of cards tumbled down, throwing my whole self into disarray. I felt vulnerable and scared. I wasn't really sure who I was anymore, but what I wanted was becoming clearer. The child inside who wanted to fly was finally being given her chance. And I was giving her that chance. Though I was angry and resistant at first, I started to believe that I could be more than "decent." And I also started to realize that everyone has that potential, if given the chance. The limitations and prejudices that people place on each other are never powerful enough to overcome passionate determination. The spirit is not weak and ethereal, but strong and determined, quite ready to face the challenges of the "real world."

Through all of this, I cannot say enough about John and his belief in the Hartfel Ballet. The strength of our company is made up of the strength of its members, and John has fought hard to bring us to where we are today.

I can now honestly say that my dancing is now much more than "decent." And even more exciting is that I see myself growing even more, eventually touching that virtuosic and amazing realm of a real artist."

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