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  • By Dana Casadei

Angel Lavery

Ballet Edge Detroit wakes a lot of men up. Literally. “I have gotten a lot of feedback, especially from men who say, ‘Wow, I woke up when I heard the “Game of Thrones” song come on,’” laughed Angel Lavery, Ballet Edge Detroit co-founder.

Needless to say, metro Detroit's newest ballet company isn't the most traditional. Performances are set to scores like the GOT theme, instrumental versions of Michael Jackson, and Bollywood music. No Swan Lake here.

And since their inception in 2017 – when Lavery co-founded BED with Erica Briganti – they’ve taken their dancing all over metro Detroit.

Lavery said they’ve performed everywhere from galas and festivals to the Detroit Auto Show and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Their most recent performance was at Audi Birmingham last December, and featured one of Lavery’s favorite routines.

“‘Smooth Criminal’ got a great response,” said Lavery, who choreographed all of the company’s pieces. “I think the audience just loved the black tutus.”

Naturally, those tutus weren’t traditional. Instead of the fluffy pink, these were sharp and looked like saucers.

For now, the company is focused on their upcoming summer performance at the Redford Theater. Lavery thinks that will be their first big step towards solidifying themselves in Detroit. Part of the company’s vision is to bring more performing arts to the Detroit community and be part of its revitalization.

“I don’t think there’s anything like us in this area,” she said.

While there are several contemporary dance companies Lavery – who is originally from the Bay Area and now lives in Bloomfield Hills – noticed there weren’t any ballet companies who danced on pointe to more popular music. So she and Briganti decided to start BED.

The duo met while taking a class at Christina's Adult Ballet in Farmington Hills. They started staying after class, where Lavery would demonstrate her new choreography. Then more women started showing up. Currently, the company is at nine, but Lavery would be willing to expand to as many as 12.

“I feel like we’re improving and we’re getting stronger dancers along the way,” Lavery said.

For all of the women who have joined, at their dancing core is ballet training, which Lavery said is vital. They are also a group who learn fast.

Since they all have backgrounds in dance, dancing professionally or in college, performing at interesting venues isn’t new to any of them. This comes in handy when they arrive at venues that aren’t exactly what they expected.

Take, for example, when they performed at a Lunar New Year last year. Lavery said the stage was far, far tinier and more narrow than anticipated.

“We made it work. We just sort of squeezed,” she laughed. “But it’s always a great experience. You always have to be prepared for whatever you see when you show up.”

As do audiences. This combination of ballet with an edge may seem rather unique, but Lavery is the perfect woman to be leading the charge.

The former Seaholm High School teacher started ballet in high school, years later than most who hope to get to the professional level. She proceeded to dance through college, adding jazz and hip-hop to her repertoire.

Her professional experience includes not only being a San Francisco 49ers cheerleader but also performing with the Santa Clara Ballet and the Peninsula Ballet Theater.

“They are totally different genres of dance, and I feel like I’m a combination of everything I came up with,” Lavery said.

The men listening to the GOT theme song during a performance are probably pretty grateful for that.

Photo: Laurie Tennent

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