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Dance company trio kicks off Stages’ 10th season

Folsom Lake Entertainer
By: Laura Newell, Folsom Lake Entertainer
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With 10 years of dancing in the region, Stages-Folsom Dance Arts has big plans to continue their artistic success. Stages will open the 10th season with performances by each of its three dance companies — Ballet Folsom, Sound Out Tap Company and iMPACT Contemporary Dance. The three companies perform under the Stages umbrella, a non-profit arts organization located in Folsom. Sound Out Tap Company The season opens with a holiday show presented by Sound Out Tap Company with performances by Ballet Folsom and iMPACT Contemporary Dance, called “Rhythms of Christmas: All Through the Land.” Performances will include evening and matinee shows from Friday, Dec. 9 through Sunday, Dec. 11, at Jill Solberg Theatre at Folsom High School at Iron Point Road and Prairie City Road. “The Rhythms of Christmas productions offer Broadway style staging and glamour for the holiday season,” said Roberta McClellan, executive director Stages-Folsom Dance Arts. “This is a big production with amazing sets, costumes and dancers. Think large-scale tap dance numbers. It will take your breath away.” The young dancers rehearse for months beforehand to get all the numbers down, McClellan said. “Each holiday season the Sound Out artistic director, Alyson Meador, creates a theme so the productions are new,” McClellan said. “This year, ‘Rhythms of Christmas’ takes a look at how people celebrate the holidays throughout the United States.” McClellan said this year there is a patriotic segment in the production honoring military, so Stages is offering a special discount to military families as appreciation for their service. Groups of 10 or more and military families will receive 20 percent off the ticket price. Ballet Folsom Following the season opener, Ballet Folsom will present, “The Sleeping Beauty,” with music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Original choreography of the ballet was by Marius Petipa, currently adapted by Deirdre Hawkins, artistic director for Ballet Folsom. Performances will include an evening and matinee shows on April 28 and 29 at Folsom’s Jill Solberg Theatre. This classic tale focuses on the battle between dark and light forces in a magical fairy kingdom in this classical story of a princess and her destiny, McClellan said. iMPACT? Contemporary Dance To close the season, iMPACT Contemporary Dance will stage an original production entitled, “Life in Color.” The performance will feature an evening and matinee performance on May 5 and 6 at Folsom’s Jill Solberg Theatre, Iron Point Road and Prairie City Road, Folsom. This vibrant concert, choreographed by Artistic Director Kelli Leighton, creates a “visual experience,” combining the beauty of color with the artistry of contemporary dance, McClellan said. Meet the dancers With the new season opening this month, some of the dancers want to introduce themselves to their audiences. Dylan Gardener, 17, of Folsom is a senior at Vista Del Lago High School. While most students his age use their free time to meet up with friends, he uses his time for dance training. He has been dancing for almost 13 years and has been a part of Sound Out and Stages for seven years. “I participate in tap, contemporary, ballet, jazz, and hip hop,” he said. “My favorite style of dance is tap.” He is the captain of Sound Out Tap Company, meaning he works to keep all members up to date on choreography and assisting the director with classes and review days. “Dancing is my passion,” Gardener said. “I love the way I’m able to portray any emotion through my movement. Dancing has taken over my life for the better, and without it, I have no idea where I would be.” Gardener said he can appreciate dance because it is always teaching him something. “With dance, there is always room for improvement, whether it be a need for more turn out in your feet or clearer sounds when you tap, there is always something you can strive for,” Gardener said. “My motivation definitely comes from the self-determination to become the best dancer I can be.” On average, he dances anywhere from 25 to 33 hours a week, not including performances and competitions. “Managing both dance and school, especially for a high school senior such as myself, becomes quite challenging at times,” he said. After school from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., he heads to dance practice until about 10 or 11 p.m. “I fit in my homework whenever I am able to, but luckily I am still able to succeed in my academic studies,” he said. But, he said it’s all worth it because one day his goal is to be a full-time performer. “I hope to take dance and performing into a career later in life,” Gardener said. “Whether it be performing in a professional company, teaching classes or becoming a professional choreographer, anything related to this art is where I would like to see myself. I do plan on going to college for dance, as well as psychology, to make sure that I have a well-rounded education.” Ashley Chin-Mark, 15, Gold River, is a sophomore honors student at Bella Vista High School. She is also known in the community, as a lead dancer for Ballet Folsom. “I have been dancing since the age of three,” she said. “I’ve been with Stages and Ballet Folsom for six years total, three of those years a Principal dancer.” She said every summer she travels to different states to attend dance summer intensives such as Ballet Austin, Ballet Utah and Pacific Northwest Ballet. “To me, the art of ballet allows me to use my creativity to express myself,” Chin-Mark said. “In my opinion, ballet is a symbol of human beauty and elegance. Dedicated dancers are able to hold gravity-defying positions with strength and poise. Dance is a major part of my life that has built my confidence, self-awareness, flexibility, strength, focus and discipline.” She said on an average week, she will practice for nine hours in addition to attending company rehearsals that last up to nine hours on the weekends. Also, her solo rehearsals range from one to two hours. “My future goals are to graduate from college with at least a Master’s degree if not a PhD in Psychology or Law,” Chin-Mark said. “I’d like to also dance professionally with top companies from all over the world.” She said as a dancer, some people have misconceptions of dancers including weight. “I believe the biggest misconception about a dancer is body type,” she said. “People think we are self-conscious about our weight and have eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. Of the dancers I know, including myself, no one has issues about how they look or feel. Stages and Ballet Folsom provides a healthy environment for aspiring dancers.” Renee Jonas, 17, of Folsom is a senior at Vista del Lago High School. She has danced with iMPACT Contemporary Dance for six years and is now a senior member. “I train in many styles of dance including ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, modern and improv,” Jonas said. Jonas said she has danced for 14 years and this is her seventh year being a part of Stages. “Dance is literally what I live and breathe,” she said. “Not only is dance a place for fun, but it is a place where I feel safe. I am able to release stress from my day and dance out my problems. It is a form of therapy for me and I don’t know where I would be without it.” On average, she practices about 18 to 20 hours a week over five to six days. “After high school I plan on attending a four-year college where I hope to double major in dance and either psychology or nutritional science,” Jonas said. “After college my dream is to dance professionally, maybe even travel the world doing so.” She said dance has given her many unique experiences over the years. “Dance has been such a huge part of my life, and all my teachers at Hawkins, and the directors of Stages have been such great role models and mentors,” Jonas said. “I have practically grown up at the dance studio, and I could easily talk to either of my company directors about anything. They’re like my second family.” * * * What: Three shows by Stages When: Varies, December 2011, April and May 2012 Where: Jill Solberg Theatre, Folsom High School, 1655 Iron Point Road, Folsom Tickets: $18 adults, $15 for seniors & students, $10 for children Info: (916) 355-8080, stages-performingarts.org