Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 11, 2014

Youth ballet celebrates 25 years

The Independent

ASHLAND — The Ashland Youth Ballet will celebrate 25 years of excellence in dancing this year.

Director Maria Whaley said they will host auditions to select new members for the company today and again on April 19 and begin casting in July for this year’s special performance of The Nutcracker.

A few new features and upgrades will be factored into this year’s show, including designs of sets, costumes and dances.

Whaley said they plan to redesign the staging for the first act, which includes the parlor scene, the battle scene and a snow scene, in order to make transitions between each of these more cohesive.

Redesigning the staging also includes new costumes for the children, which Whaley said will need to be better suited for the time period each scene represents.

“Obviously the first thing with Act 1 is to look at the historical nature of the costuming for children and think about what they would have worn at the turn of the 20th century,” she said, adding that they would have to use this historical approach to the design of costumes in each scene, including the subsequent snow and battle scenes.

She said she also plans to re-evaluate the type of dance featured in the show, hopefully returning to some of the original choreography created by Maruis Peti Pa in 1891.

“But we have to be careful. All the classical variations were choreographed for professional dancers. We have a student-based company, so you have to look at what is age-appropriate and possible for their skill level,” she said.

For costuming, Whaley said they also plan to use designs from the Romantic Period to represent the era in which the plot is based. Some of these will include Romantic-length tutus for the coprs de ballet and a “highly adorned” plaited tutu for the snow queen.

Company auditions will be today and April 19, beginning at 9:30 a.m. for Junior Petites (age 6 and 7); 11 a.m. for Juniors (ages 8-11); 12:30 p.m. for Seniors (ages 12 and up).

Whaley asks for all new company members to meet with her 30 minutes prior to the audition.

All members of the company are required to attend orientation on May 10 at noon.

Whaley said she is looking for dancers who have danced in front of an audience at least one time prior to the audition and are committed to putting in extra time and effort to perfecting the choreography.

Whaley also wanted to announce the performance of Brooke Hyland and Friends at the Paramount Arts Center  at 3 p.m. on May 18, which will be traveling with the band Have2Have. Tickets will be available April 18 online.

For more information or questions, call Maria Whaley at (606) 923-3006

LANA BELLAMY can be reached at lbellamy@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.