Contributions received by the JCB in memory of Carla Prucnal will be used to build and equip Studio #1 located on the first level of the newly constructed DANCEWORKS facility. This incredible studio will be named in the honor of Carla. Carla was excited with the vision of a newly constructed state of the art training and performance facility, and so it is truly fitting to place her in this prominent position of honor. With the formal naming of the studio, the 50+ years of Carla’s commitment to educating area youth will be memorialized in perpetuity.
The Johnstown Concert Ballet is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. All contributions will be acknowledged in writing.
A LOVING MEMORIAM
Carla Prucnal attended Carnegie Melon University from 1963 through 1967 and during this time performed with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. Returned to Johnstown, took up residence in the ethnically diverse Cambria City neighborhood and began an art studio in the building built by her father down the street from her residence at 300 Power Street.
She taught early ballet classes at the second floor of the Polski Dom Club, eventually moving the dance instruction to the art studio location. Carla was trained extensively in the Cechetti Method of Ballet, which is much more structured than the Russian style and Carla was one of the few instructors left in the United States teaching this method of ballet. She was a certified teacher and a member of the Cecchetti Council of America; she held frequent workshops and always encouraged her students to enter the Cecchetti Exams, taking pride in their accomplishments.
In 1981, Carla, and a small group of women whose daughters danced with Carla formed the Johnstown Concert Ballet organization naming Carla the Artistic Director. Her first major production of The Nutcracker was held at the Cochran Auditorium in the Greater Johnstown High School in collaboration with the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra. She made sketches of most of the costumes, which were then sewn by many volunteers. The Nutcracker became an annual performance presented in the first weekend of December.
Over the years, Carla was instrumental in choreographing many performances. The repertoire has included The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Snow White, Coppelia, Beauty and the Beast, Alice in Wonderland, Peter and the Wolf, Les Sylphide and the list goes on. She would never use the term recital, but always wanted the any production to be called a performance. Each year she would create a work of art each spring. Of course with each performance came costumes, head pieces, props and sets. Most of what went into any production was designed, embellished by Carla always applying the finishing touches making each costume special.
Carla kept the art of dance a part of the communities of Johnstown. Each year she would participate in the Annual Ethnic Fest and never turned down an opportunity to showcase the talents of her students at other functions throughout the city.
In 1989 she went on to choreograph the Flood Ballet for the 100th Anniversary of the Great Johnstown Flood.
Carla was instrumental with the development of the BottleWorks Ethnic Arts Center serving as a member of the Board of Director. She participated in the first BottleWorks program in 1992 celebrating Polish Christmas traditions at the former St. Casmir Church.
In 2005 Carla was inducted into the Arts Hall of Fame, due to her major contribution to the Arts in Johnstown.
In 2010, she choreographed a piece for the Grand Opening of the Illumination of ART WORKS.
In 2015, Carla received a grant from the Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance for a ballet called Pucks and Pirouettes. She instructed hockey players from a local high school to perform the ballet with her company members. The ballet was introduced at a hockey game held at the War Memorial Arena and concluded with the performance at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center.
In 2017, Carla was approached by Maestro James Blachy of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra to perform with the JSO an excerpt from Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring with the symphony. She was thrilled with this honor.
In 2018, she worked with the Allied Artists of Johnstown wherein artists presented paintings to Carla who in turn created a dance that depicted the meaning of the painting.
Recently, due to cancellation of this year’s annual Nutcracker performance (due to covid-19), Carla worked on compiled a film of excerpts from previous Nutcracker performances. It was her way of giving back to the community for all the support over the years. The performance was aired on Atlantic Broadband on December 5, 2020.
Over her many years of training ballerinas, Carla not only instilled the art of ballet in their hearts but also poise, commitment, character and hard work. No matter what level of talent they possessed she made them all a part of her productions; she found their strengths and made them shine. Many of the students Carla has taught over the years have gone on professionally in dance or theater. Many others have gone on to become successful in other professions and most honor the part that Carla played in their lives.
Carla’s instruction touched not only her students, but anyone who was brave enough to get on stage and assist in one of her performances. She taught all, young and old, not only the art of ballet, but the proper etiquette of stage performance. She then instructed those who helped backstage the best methods it takes to stage a successful production.
The city of Johnstown has lost someone very special. Carla’s creative, artistic mind and talents will never be replaced but her legacy will live on in all of our hearts.
Those who have known her have said, “She was more than a dancer and a mentor, she was an artist.” “Johnstown has lost a creative giant. She inspired my future”
The members of the Johnstown Concert Ballet Board of Directors are resolved to keeping Carla’s legacy alive. In 2017, the JCB committed the creation of Johnstown Concert Ballet – Dance Works located at 316 Broad Street and Carla was excited to be a part of the planning of the 3 studios. While Carla will never teach in the new studio, her legacy will live on with the largest studio being dedicated and named in her honor.
In addition Our 2021 Nutcracker will be performed in commemoration of Carla and over the next months we will be seeking past students to assist in the event either by performing or being part of the production in some way. Please continue to visit our web page or Facebook site for more information.
Carla A. Prucnal
August 20, 1946 – December 12, 2020
Carla passed away on December 12, 2020 at Conemaugh Hospital. She was born August 20, 1946 in Johnstown, daughter of the late Joseph M. Sr. and Carolyn (Wisz) Prucnal. She is survived by brother, Joseph M. Prucnal Jr. of Washington DC. She graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. She trained and performed with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Carla founded the Johnstown Concert Ballet and has served as Artistic Director for over 50 years. She was a member-teacher of the Cecchetti Council of America. Ms. Prucnal has lectured extensively on dance to area community organizations. She was inducted into the Bottleworks Hall of Fame in 2005. Carla has choreographed and staged many major productions. She was best known for annual performance of The Nutcracker.
She will be sadly missed by all who knew her and learned so much from her. Friends received Sunday from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Francis G. Ozog Funeral Home Inc., Broad Street. Funeral Mass will be held 10:00 a.m. Monday at Resurrection Parish. Committal will follow at Grandview Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please make all donations to the Johnstown Concert Ballet Company. Condolences may be sent at fgozogfuneralhome.com
By JCBallet|2020-12-30T15:30:19-05:00December 19th, 2020|News|Comments Off on Carla Biography