Having just presented the Columbia County Ballet’s Nutcracker at the Imperial Theatre to a full house only a week after the Dance Augusta version, I reflected on the tremendous influence Ron Colton has had on me personally and my community as a result in large part of Mr. Colton’s mentorship and example so many years ago.
When I performed with the Atlanta Ballet, one of my favorite times of the year was touring The Nutcracker and stopping in Augusta to join Mr. Colton’s team to stage this classic. Because of the excellence of his work and that of his protégé who would later become his wife, Zanne Beaufort Colton, I was attracted to Augusta to settle in with my young wife, witness the birth of our three children and form our own ballet program.
If it had not been for Mr. Colton’s influence, the Columbia County Ballet may never have emerged. Without the Columbia County Ballet, The Roar of Love, an Augusta favorite that has entertained thousands of children for the past 27 years, might never have been created.
If it had not been for Mr. Colton’s influence, it is unlikely that the current Augusta Ballet that hired him would have ever moved on to bring to this community the excellent professional dance troupes from around the country that local dance patrons currently enjoy.
If it had not been for that leap of faith taken years ago by Mr. Colton, hundreds of local dance students trained in the Augusta Ballet School, the Columbia County Ballet School and Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School might never have had the opportunity to appear on the stages within our city and enjoy the applause that is the result of their work and dedication to this art form.
Excellence breeds excellence, and when it comes to dance in Augusta, we owe much of our success to the standard that Ron Colton set. Kudos on 40 years of Nutcracker-ing, Ron! May visions of sugar plums forever dance in your head.
(The writer is director of the Columbia County Ballet.)