Dancers putting final touches on performance

Published 10:01pm Saturday, October 30, 2010

When the Montgomery Ballet brings “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to Selma Thursday, more than 40 Selma dance students will be part of the cast.

Like several other students, 11-year-old Dashia Purdie will dance with professionals for the very first time.

“She is very excited, and it’s all she’s talking about,” her mother, Sandra Purdie, said.  Dashia is an eighth year ballet student at The Dance Studio, one of three participating Selma studios.

Ten-year-old Sara Matthews has danced with the ballet in previous Selma appearances and describes the six weekends of practices prior to the event as “really busy, but once you get to know the dances, it’s easier.”

The final practice in Montgomery rehearses the girls with the entire troupe and gets them fitted for costumes, said Dance Studio owner/instructor Rachel Colley.

“It looks like this group will be fairies,” she said, and the costumes will be gorgeous. Other student dancers will be sprites or wedding guests.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is one of William Shakespeare’s most popular plays. It’s a fantasy set primarily in a forest inhabited by fairies who manipulate the romances of the main characters.

The ballet is scheduled for a public performance at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, at J.A. Pickard Auditorium. The auditorium is located at the School of Discovery, 400 Washington St.  Two daytime performances, one on Thursday and another on Friday will be presented for school children.

“We are so excited to be able to bring The Montgomery Ballet to Selma for the third year in a row,” said Molly Gamble, event chairman for ArtsRevive, a non-profit organization that seeks to enhance the arts in the Selma area.  “This is also the third time that dance students are participating. They previously danced with the Ballet in “Sleeping Beauty” and The Nutcracker.”

Gracie Colley, 10, is among dancers who participated in both the earlier performances.

“I was a page in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and an angel in ‘The Nutcracker,’ and it was fun and really exciting!” she said, explaining that pages got to be on stage throughout most of Sleeping Beauty.

Rachel Colley said the girls really have to be committed in order to dance with the professional company. Not only do they have to practice every weekend, but they have to learn choreography that is not necessarily easy.

“Elie Lazar (artistic director) comes to Selma one time to visit each studio and show us the choreography, which we teach to our students,” Colley said, adding that the director sometimes writes student parts into the ballet. Other participating dance studios are McConnell Twins and Margie’s Studio.

Tickets for the ballet can be purchased at Truax & Co. on Broad Street and the Satterfield Plaza branch of BankTrust or by calling (334) 874-9600. Prices are $10, $15 and $20. Group discounts of $2 per seat are available for 10 or more people. Student discounts of $5 per seat are also available with ID. Reservations are required for school performances. Teachers may contact Gale Bedgood at 875-1810.

The Montgomery Ballet was founded in 1958.  Lazar founded and directed the Joffrey Ensemble Dancers of the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. He has danced with the New Jersey Ballet, Haifa Ballet and Israel National Ballet and is a versatile and inventive choreographer. Lazar also began a dance program for at-risk and inner-city youth in New York and New Jersey.

The program is made possible by grants from The Alabama State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Alabama-Tombigbee Resource, Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council and local partners of ArtsRevive.

Editor's Picks