There is something magical about old-fashioned toyshops, especially when they are presented with quaint Old World charm. The Footlight Dance Centre will bring just this kind of fantasy to life as it stages its annual student performance of "The Toy Shoppe" at the Community Campus theater in Hailey Saturday, May 10, and Sunday, May 11.
Under the direction of Artistic Director Hilarie Neely, the full-length dance will feature 160 "dancing magical dolls, whirling around the stage," she said.
The two-act production takes place in an 1880s Viennese Toy Shoppe. Based on the original ballet, "Die Puppenfee" ("The Fairy Doll") by Josef Bayer, this ballet was one of the most successful one-act ballets of the late 19th century. The first production took place at the Vienna Hofoper on Oct. 4, 1888, with choreography by Josef Hassreiter.
"Footlight first produced this production in 1996 after extensive research," Neely said. "'The Fairy Doll' is not done very often. The more commonly known ballet, 'Coppelia,' basically replaced 'Die Puppenfee' after its premiere in 1906. I decided to bring the production back this year as a tribute to our many talented Senior Company members as there are wonderful solos, duets and trios to show off their talent. One of our graduating seniors, Emily Slike, was in the 1996 production in her first year dancing with Footlight as a baby doll, so this is a special production, her last and dancing one of the lead roles."
True to the original story, this production finds an Englishman, played by John Valenzuela, looking for a doll to buy. He decides on the beautiful Fairy Doll, danced by Lauren Prentice, a junior at Wood River High School. Later, all the dolls come magically alive to give a big farewell party for their friend who will be leaving the shop the next day.
"It's exciting but nerve-wracking at the same time," Prentice said. "My first performance was when I was 5. I was a frog in 'Nightingale.' It's going to be a fun show. We're all dolls and it's a party thing."
Prentice's doll friends are Emily Slike and Kristen Cole, both seniors at Wood River High School.
Other dolls will be played by Senior Company dancers Faith Coben, Chessye Collette, Hanna Curran, Mariah Davis, Erica Evans, Brita Gaeddert, Alex Haupt, Mia Jefferson, Ali Maricich, Rika Pere, Dylan Peterson, Tori Poole and Madora Ooms.
Tess Connor and Gretchen Halle, two other senior company members in the jazz and modern division, will also dance in this production. Musician Andy Lewis will play the toy maker, and will also play live marimba in the final tap number.
Neely said "The Toy Shoppe" is one of Footlight Dance Centre's repertory pieces.
"It's been 12 years since we did this show," Neely said. "It's a whole new class and whole new population of the valley. It's really a wonderful story with a sweet piece of music. I like to share with students the history so they can learn a little bit about where classical pieces have come from."
The performance will include dance genres of ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop and tap, with choreography by instructors Kassidy Brice, Shellrae Garnes, Julie Fox-Jones, Michele Minailo, Kate Weihe and Anne Winton. The 160-dancer cast hails from Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey, Bellevue, Carey and ranges in age from 5 to seniors in high school.
Footlight has been bringing dance programs to the valley since 1984.
Advance tickets are encouraged, as the performances are always sellouts. For more information contact Neely, 788-3481, ext. 6.
'THE TOY SHOPPE'
Who: Footlight Dance Centre
Where: Community Campus Theater, Hailey
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, May 10, and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 11.
Cost: All tickets are $5 and available in advance at Chapter One Bookstore, Ketchum and The Toy Store, Hailey.