Johnstown lost a Legend this month. Carla Prucnal was the Artistic Director for the Johnstown Concert Ballet for over 50 years. She passed away at the age of 74 last week. Dancers from all over the World are grieving her loss. We spoke with some of those Dancers to see what she meant to them and learn about Carla’s legacy in Johnstown.
Wearing dangly earrings and black from head to toe and holding a thermos full of coffee in her hand, Carla Prucnal is described as a small woman with a large force. She created the Johnstown Concert Ballet over 50 years ago and died this month at the age of 74 to COVID-19 complications. Former Dancers have been paying their respects to Carla, one with a final reverence outside the studio doors.
Calra is from Johnstown, later attending Carnegie Mellon University while dancing with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. She returned to her Hometown teaching dance classes at the Polski Dom. Then her father built a Studio right next door intended for her art, but ended up holding her dance classes which Carla was known for arriving “Fashionably Late” to. Parents watched their children grow up to be young adults with Carla teaching ballet techniques, life lessons, and how to sew pointe shoes. Carla gave her dancers constructive criticism, but they say a certain “presence” about her made them hang on to every word.
Johnstown Concert Ballet was a home shared between sisters, but also generations. Between the mother-daughter duo of Kristen and Laurel Stienly, they’ve spent 25 years in the Studio together. The curtains would rise for an annual performance every Spring and then the first weekend each December for their Annual Nutcracker performance, giving each Student a chance to shine on stage. Carla is described as being an Artist in every way, not only choreographing the dances but designing the sets and even costumes.
Carla was known for her way of getting people to fall in line and focus to get the job done for each performance. This week, her Dancers will gather for a Memorial Service and Johnstown’s Stone Bridge will be lit in her honor, to remember a Teacher, an Artist, a Legend. Her chair might be refilled someday, but she will never be replaced.