A Tribute to a Friend: Bill Salerno

A Tribute to a Friend: Bill SalernoImagine Award 2010 Nancy Schlagel and Bill Salernoresized

by Jessica Barraza

I’ve been struggling to write this for a few days. In my own life, the last six months have been full of loss, but one never fully accepts that it continues to happen. And yet, happen it does. The news of Bill’s illness, rapid decline, and passing happened so quickly that I and many others who knew Bill well didn’t have time to process that he was leaving us; and now he’s gone. I’ll start at the beginning, and try to do some justice to the incredible man I’ve come to know over the past nine years.

The Salernos came to The School of Imagine Ballet Theatre in its infancy, back in 2005. We had just moved out of the Eccles Community Arts Center and officially declared ourselves The School of Imagine Ballet Theatre, in conjunction with Imagine Ballet Theatre the pre-professional Company that had been founded the year prior by Artistic Director Raymond Van Mason. At the time, Ray, myself, and one other instructor made up the entire Faculty and Artistic Staff of our school, and we used the single rehearsal studio in the Peery’s Egyptian Theater. I taught all of the “little ones” classes, and that’s where Bill and his family came in. Bill’s daughter Marissa was ready to be a ballerina. From the instant I saw the Salernos, I knew these three belonged. I loved seeing a little Marissa holding her Daddy’s hand, walking from his office down 25th street to and from ballet class.

As most know, Bill was a hugely influential member of the Ogden community. He designed many of the structures and buildings that truly define the revitalized face of downtown Ogden. I don’t believe Ogden could be what it is today without Salerno Architects. I know Imagine Ballet Theatre wouldn’t be what it is today without Salerno Architects, either. Bill lent his talents and skill to our sets, designing and constructing most set pieces for IBT’s The Nutcracker. Bill personally and pro bono designed our current home across the street from the Peery’s Egyptian Theatre, as we yet again faced a difficult situation and were forced to move quickly. Because of his incredible talent and unimaginable generosity, we have a space that is customized for our every need as a state-of-the-art dance facility. We could never thank him enough.

Bill served IBT continuously as a board member, as well. I was honored to work with on the board and learn from him as he upheld this position, and many others, throughout the area. He kept us in line, in a lot of ways. Being a small non-profit arts organization is hard. Being a small business is hard. Being an artist is hard. Bill had an eye for all three – and it seemed like he knew what to do in every situation. I’ll always be grateful for the advice he gave us, the directions in which he led our board, and the many occasions he worked with other members of the community on our behalf.

Lastly, I must honor Bill as a dancer. I was privileged to share the stage with Bill as my stage “husband” in IBT’s The Nutcracker in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. When injury took me off stage in 2011 and 2012, and then him in 2013, we sighed and laughed and said we’d dance again. I’ll miss our little moments – the times when he would sigh out loud instead of pantomime, roll his eyes at me and almost make me laugh, or when that hobble with a cane was a little too real. We used to talk about his dancing days in college and how much he missed it, and how he wished his knees didn’t give him so much trouble. He appreciated the art of dance so much, and you could see it in his enthusiasm for this annual performance.

Thank you, Bill. Thank you for being my friend and mentor. Thank you for your legacy. Thank you for your work and your dedication to the good things in your communities. We’ll think of you when we see Clara in her sleigh, our giant Christmas tree, and every time we walk into our beautiful home studio. Thank you for your families. Thank you for sharing your lovely daughter with us for so many years. Thank you for trying to make the world a more beautiful and inspiring place.

I believe that’s what Bill wanted to do – make things better, and he supported everyone who wanted to do the same. I know he’s at peace now, no longer with aching knees and back problems, nor facing the debilitating illness that ended his life earlier than we would have liked it. I wish that we had him for a bit longer, or that I’d been able to say goodbye, but for now, I’ll remember all those sunny days along 25th street.

Keep your dancing shoes on, Bill, and we’ll waltz again.

Imagine Ballet Theatre to Hold Auditions Saturday Jan. 18, 2014

ballet boot camp picImagine Ballet Theatre to Hold Auditions

Ogden, Utah, January 7, 2014: Imagine Ballet Theatre (IBT), an Ogden-based ballet company, will hold company auditions on January 18, 2014 at their studios on 2432 Washington Blvd., Suites C & D, in Ogden. Dancers will have the opportunity to audition for the upcoming 2014 performing season as well as the 2014 Summer Dance Intensive program.

Imagine Ballet Theatre’s 2014 performing season will include several performing opportunities for company members, who must be age nine or older. This spring, IBT will prepare and perform a World Premiere new work along with a second presentation of Peter and the Wolf with choreographer by IBT Artistic Director Raymond Van Mason, a former Principal at Ballet West. In February, the company hosts and participates in The Rocky Mountain Choreography Festival, with entries from artists around the nation. IBT will continue its season into December with performances of its acclaimed The Nutcracker, also with choreography by Van Mason. Other performances may be added to the company’s season as opportunities are presented. IBT is widely recognized in the region as providing quality and professional-level performances. IBT received a Utah Best of State Award in 2005, and Mason received a 2006 Utah Best of State Award for Best Choreographer as well as the Ogden Mayor‘s Award for the Arts. Dancers within the company have received recognition and summer scholarships from prestigious ballet companies and organizations such as: The Youth American Grand Prix, American Ballet Theater (NYC), Boston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet (Seattle), The Rock for Dance Education (PA), The Joffrey Ballet School (NY), Ballet West (UT), and others.

Imagine Ballet Theatre’s Summer Dance Intensive also receives national recognition. Dancers who are accepted into the program will have the opportunity to train under professional and former professional dancers from national companies such as Los Angeles Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Ballet West, and Repertory Dance Theater, as well as a former star of Broadway who will teach jazz in the Fosse style. The summer program will offer training in ballet technique, pointe, partnering, modern dance, character development, jazz, choreography and more. Ages for the program are six and up, with an audition required for dancers ages eight and up.

When:                          Saturday, January 18, 2014

                                    Ages 9 and up, registration 9:30-10:00 am; audition 10:00-12:00 pm

                                    For Company members and Junior Company members.

Note:                            IBT Company members are ages 9 and up; Summer Program 8 and up

Where:                        Imagine Ballet Theatre, 2432 Washington Blvd, Suites C & D, Ogden

Dress:                          Young Women: Black leotard, pink tights, ballet shoes, if dancer is en pointe bring pointe shoes, hair in a bun

                                    Men:  White shirt, black tights or shorts, ballet shoes

Registration Fee:         $25.00, non-refundable

Other:                          Dancers must bring a dance resume and photo

For more information about Imagine Ballet Theatre and its upcoming performances and other dance opportunities, please visit www.imagineballet.org.

Announcing the Rocky Mountain Choreographers for 2014

I would like to announce the Choreographers participating in this years Festival.  Congratulations to them all.  Looking forward to seeing all their work live on stage at the Peery’s Egyptain Theatre, Feb 21 and 22 at 7:30 pm.  Peoples choice voting will take place on Feb 21st show and Awards will take place on the Feb 22, 2014


Carrie Lee Miles "Delirium" People's Choice Winner Imagine Ballet Theatre
Carrie Lee Miles “Delirium” People’s Choice Winner 2013 Imagine Ballet Theatre










Tawna Halbert, Satellite,  Junction Dance, Ogden, Utah

Summer Robertson,Keeping up with Joneses, St. George Dance Company, St. George, Utah

Rodolfo Rafael, Case #07051990, Rafael Contemporary Dance, Clearfield, Utah

Jessica Skagen, Struggle:verb:to contend with an adversary or opposing force, Weber State Dance, Farmington Utah

Sarah Longoria, Adrift, Municipal Ballet Company, Salt Lake City, Utah

Denise Purvis, To the End, Shifting Velocity Dance, Cedar City, Utah

Carrie Miles, The Bench, Imagine Ballet Theatre, Las Vegas, Nevada

Jessica Haslip, G.F.R., Weber State Dance, Ogden, Utah

Erin McMahon, Somewhere in the Middle, University of Utah Dance Dept, Salt Lake City, Utah

Rodolfo Rafael, Press Play, Rafael Contemporary Dance, Clearfield, Utah

Ellie Hanagarne, Inverted Out, Municipal Ballet Company, Salt Lake City, Utah

Junior Division

Abigail Hardin, Uplifted, Imagine Ballet Theatre, Nixa, Mousouri

Sierra Miles, Finding Family, Imagine Ballet Theatre, Las Vegas, Nevada

Literary Arts and Book signings for Ogden’s First Friday Art Stroll November 1, 2013!


J.R. Simmons

JR Simmons lives in Northern Utah with his wife and 4 boys. He loves spending time with his family and coaching his kids in all of their different sports. He is an avid gamer and is very excited that his boys are picking up on his hobby. JR was recently introduced to triathlons and has since found that he loves the sport. Most nights he can be found either sitting down with a good game or hunched over his iPad writing.

Juli Caldwell

Juli Caldwell has a degree in English from Weber State University. She is the author of Psyched, a YA paranormal novel; a funny little novella called Arms Wide Open; and Beyond Perfection, a latter-day romance. She also freelances as an editor for kicks. She lives near the shores of the Great Salt Lake with her husband, two bookworm daughters, and a dog who sheds too much.

Shantal Sessions

Shantal is married to the love of her life and is the mother of two smart, fun, and talented teen boys, and she spends much of her time trying to help them become wonderful men. She loves outdoor activities, including skiing (snow and water), hiking, camping, boating, exercising, and gardening. She loves to cook from her garden, and to bake cookies, mostly chocolate. Having spent a dozen years as a professional model, the idea for Agency developed in the dressing rooms and on the catwalks in the strange, alternate world of the modeling universe.



Wendy Knight was born and raised in Utah by a wonderful family who spoiled her rotten because she was the baby. Now she spends her time driving her husband crazy with her many eccentricities (no water after five, terror when faced with a live phone call, etcetera, etcetera). She also enjoys chasing her three adorable kids, playing tennis, watching football, reading, and hiking. Camping is also big: her family is slowly working toward a goal of seeing all the National Parks in the U.S.

You can usually find her with at least one Pepsi nearby, wearing ridiculously high heels for whatever the occasion. And if everything works out just right, she will also be writing.

Emilie Parker will be celebrated at The Nutcracker!

Imagine Ballet Theatre will celebrate the life of Utah native Emilie Parker, one of the 20 children taken in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, at a performance of the Nutcracker on December 21, 2013 at Peery’s Egyptian Theater  to raise money for her organization.

Emilie’s parents, Robbie and Alissa Parker, created The Emilie Parker Art ConnectionThe Emilie Parker Art Connection_Finals_Brush 4_Small to support art programs in schools and communities and as a way to honor and remember their 6-year-old daughter.


Hazel Clarke winner of the 2012 Rocky Mountain Choreography Festival Oct 12, 2012 7:30 Peery’s EgyptianTheater!

poster Hazel Clarke and the Karios Dance Company will present an evening of dance on Oct 12, 2013 at Peery’s Egyptian Theater at 7:30 pm.  Tickets are available for $15.00 reserved seating.  All Utah High school dance classes may get in for $7.50 by mentioning High School Dance at the box office.

The full-length production will explore the complexities and aspects of mental illness and its effect on society as well as the individual himself.  As the audience takes a tour through the fictional facilities of Sunny-ville Mental Health Institute, they meet colorful characters as well as lost souls, and experience both the archaic and cutting-edge methods of  psychiatric treatment used throughout history as well as today.

www.kairosdancecompany.com for more info about Kairos Dance Company

Sponsoring the evening:  Imagine Ballet Theatre, Peery’s Egyptian Theater, Utah Dance Educators Organization, Weber State Dance Department, Ben Lomond Suites Hotel, Only in Ogden, Ogden City, Utah Division of Arts and Museums and NamiUtah.

www.namiut.org for more info on Mental Health in Utah.





Melissa Taylor shares her personal Art at Imagine Ballet Theatre Studios Oct 4, 2013!

!cid_inlineImage2 !cid_inlineImage0Melissa Taylor

Like in Many artistic areas. one must have learned the technique first before allowing the creativeness to flow. In the creative side of art it just so happens that emotions influence much of the work.  I was a victim of domestic violence for many years and from that experience I have released the hurt, sorrow and anger into my paintings. The ability to share those paintings with others helps me heal.