Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Dance down the rabbit hole

Footlight Dance presents 'Alice in Dancerland'


By DANA DUGAN
Express Staff Writer

Sweet Alice (Robyn Fox) is surrounded by some of the lead characters in her excellent adventure, clockwise from top, Lisa Upchurch, Anneka Preston, Alysha Djsaran, McKenna Peterson, Casey Colesworthy, Fox, Hayley Andrews, Sophia Dilley, Alyse Stark, Addy Mason and Molly Sides. Photo by Aubrey Stephens

If Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" is the richest, wackiest, character driven, most colorful book/movie/cartoon/play ever written, then it follows that it would also make a grand full scale dance production.

For the second time in 12 years, Footlight Dance Centre is presenting an original full-length show using the story of a young girl with a vivid imagination as the hopping off spot.

"This is a wonderful fantasy you shouldn't miss," Footlight director Hilarie Neely said.

While the 1994 version was fairly straightforward, this version was renamed "Alice in Dancerland" and re-choreographed to involve all the dance disciplines Footlight offers all its dancers.

As the last show for the 2005-2006 year, this production is notable for marking the final time for 12 graduating seniors to be on stage with Footlight after many years of hard work and devotion. In fact, these girls, who all dance more than one discipline, have been in classes most every night of the week for several years. This activity cuts into their time to do school-related extra curricular activities or sports. It's not for the faint hearted, said Neely, who is a longtime mentor to each of them.

"This graduating class is the deepest in strength and performance quality we've ever had before," Neely said. "Some are going on to pursue dance careers."

Molly Sides is going to the Cornish School of the Arts in Seattle. Robyn Fox is auditioning for Idaho Dance Theatre this summer as an apprentice. Part of this class is also Kaley Pruitt, who is graduating from Idyllwild School for the Arts in California and going to Boston Conservatory.

Playing flowers in the 1994 production were four of those seniors—Fox, who in this show plays Alice; Addy Mason who plays the Mad Hatter; McKenna Peterson as the sister, and Anneka Preston as the Red Queen.

The other graduating seniors in lead roles are Hayley Andrews as the Cheshire Cat, Casey Colesworthy as the Caterpillar, Sophia Dilley and Alyse Stark as Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Alysha Djsaran as the Flower Princess, Molly Sides as the White Rabbit, and Lisa Upchurch as the March Hare.

Footlight has 18 Senior Company members and 12 Junior Company members. From every town in the valley and ranging from age 5 to 18, the dancers present ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop, and tap.

The choreography is by Footlight's dance instructors Hilarie Neely, Kassidy Brice, Robyn Fox, Shellrae Garnes, Esther Garza, Julie-Fox Jones, Amery Maughan, Michele Minailo, Pat Robinson and Ann Winton. Musically, the production runs the gamut from Glazanov's "The Seasons" to Janet Jackson. "There's something for everybody," Neely said.

Founded in 1984 by Neely, Footlight Dance Centre was conceived as a professional conservatory environment for dance instruction in the Wood River Valley.

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Dance details

"Alice in Dancerland" is presented by Footlight Dance Centre and sponsored in part by Blaine County Recreation District and the Sun Valley Athletic Club. The performance is at 7 p.m., Saturday, May 13 and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 14 at the Community Campus Theater, Hailey. Tickets are $5 and are available at Chapter One Bookstore in Ketchum and Iconoclast books in Hailey.




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