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Ballet Group Closes Out May With Spring Gala

by and on May 31, 2014 9:30 AM

The Ballet Theatre of State College (BTSC) will close out the merry month of May with its annual Spring Gala at 3 and 7 p.m. on May 31 at Mount Nittany Middle School.

A performance in two acts, the gala explores themes of childhood, fantasy and whimsical fun.

Act One opens with a nursery scene.

Narrated by WPSU’s Kris Allen, the scene depicts time spent with a child and mother as they enjoy a series of lullabies and nursery rhymes. Little Bo Peep will lose and find her sheep. A little lamb will follow Mary, Jack will jump over a candle stick and three Little Boy Blues will fall asleep behind a haystack. Itsy Bitsy Spiders will climb up waterspouts, and many more familiar favorites will put in appearances.

The set will consist of oversized vintage wood blocks.

“As if Mom stacked the blocks for the baby to knock over,” says choreographer and Artistic Director Rebecca Maciejczyk.

The second act will take a slight turn, with several contemporary as well as classical works. Veteran choreographer Ann Van Kuren will present a modern piece titled Of Soul and Sky. Van Kuren has a distinctive, lyrical style, always recognizable for its angles and musicality.

Vicky McQuaide, no stranger to the Centre County dance community, will present two works, Invitations and a unique piece set to Singin’ In the Rain, wherein dancers switch tap shoes for pointe shoes.

Classic favorites in this act include a waltz from Coppelia and several variations from Sleeping Beauty.

Accompanying music encompasses a variety of genres and includes such composers as Scott Joplin, Frederic Chopin, Johann Sebastian Bach and Tchaikovsky.

BTSC has always provided area dancers with serious pre-professional training. Maciejczyk takes great pains to make sure the performers move in flawless precision. Rehearsing a dozen 13 to 15-year-old dancers, she focuses attention on minute details.

Each shoulder needs to twist a certain way. Each hand should extend to a certain spot. Each foot needs to point in a certain direction. Repetition and encouragement help the young dancers create the fluid movements seen on stage.

Audiences have come to expect excellence from this company. Impeccable training and dedication have resulted in performances that always surpass expectations.

“We have to smooth it out,” Maciejczyk tells her dancers, “we sand it, polish it, put shellac on it and it will look really great.”

BTSC performers love what they do and their diligence shows in their productions.

“Dancers have to be picky,” Maciejczyk says.

So much effort, talent and sheer hard work go into a dancer’s preparation for a show like this one. But the results put smiles on the dancers’ faces, while giving the audience an absolutely enchanting experience.

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Ann is an Arts and Entertainment correspondent for the Gazette.
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