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Selma dancers join in ‘Sleeping Beauty’

SELMA – Two months ago, Sophie Talton auditioned to dance with the Montgomery Ballet’s Selma production of Sleeping Beauty. “I’ve been doing ballet for five or six years,” Talton said. “I did the Nutcracker last year and it was so much fun. I wanted to do something with them again.”

After practicing each Saturday, Talton and the numerous other ballet students from here performed Sleeping Beauty with members of the Montgomery Ballet at the School of Discovery.

Students, parents and teachers had been invited to morning performances, as well as an evening performance on Thursday for the community. The last performance will be at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the School of Discovery for students and teachers of several schools and parents of the local dancers.

Gale Bedgood, co-chair of school fest, is one of the people who have worked to bring this to Selma.

“It’s an art form that not readily available in Selma,” Bedgood said. Performances have a low ticket cost for students. “The two-dollar cost is a great help but it doesn’t cover the cost,” Bedgood said. “I think it costs about $5,000 a performance.”

The ArtsRevive partners help to fund the remaining costs.

Janeanne Stewart, a sixth-grade student at John T. Morgan Academy, enjoyed watching her friends dance in the performance. Her favorite part was “when everybody was around and Sleeping Beauty was dancing,” because most of her friends were in that scene, Stewart said.

“It’s a privilege to bring this to people who would not usually have this type of art,” said Elie Lazar, artistic director of Montgomery Ballet. “My mission as a director is to promote dance in its highest quality to the whole state of Alabama.”

Lazar understands that people do not necessarily rush to attend ball et performances because people only see dance as an activity for students. Of the students who perform locally, Lazar also believes they cannot fully understand the scope of performing ballet until they see dancers from a company perform.

“Then they really see the ensemble and dedication of the work,” Lazar said. By showing the community the athleticism of a dancer, “I’m able to reverse this thing,” Lazar said. He hope is that people will then consider going to the ballet as a family, or that these students may one day choose to attend the ballet on a date.

This performance of Sleeping Beauty is the original choreography from After Marius Petipa from Russia and music of Pyotr Tchaikovsky. “It’s bringing history into Selma,” Lazar said. This same music and choreography has been performed in places as far at New York City or Rome.

Dana Lanz-Ross, Prince Desire in the performance, is thrilled to be in Selma. His grandmother, Willie Mae Ross, was born and raised in Selma until she moved to New York in the 1950s. He is ready to start exploring Selma “as soon as I step out these doors this morning,” Lanz-Ross said. He started dancing “to keep me out of trouble,” Lanz-Ross said. “But, I had a goal to be a dancer at the age of 13. Every person has a talent, they just have to figure it out.”