The Rat King has gone into hibernation and the Snow Queen is vacationing at the beach.
The dancers of Whidbey Island Dance Theatre have put aside their tutus from “The Nutcracker” and are getting ready to attack the more modern pieces that a variety of choreographers have created for them.
According to a band of dancers at a recent rehearsal for WIDT’s upcoming annual “Dance & Choreography Showcase,” this show is nothing like “The Nutcracker.” The dancers were preparing for the showcase, which opens at
7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 19, at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, with an additional performance at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 20.
“People should come to see this even if they’ve seen ‘The Nutcracker,’” said principle dancer Michela Mattens. “There’s a lot of variety in this show; abstract, unique dancing which includes some jazz, blues and ballet.”
The “Dance & Choreography Showcase” features the broad talents of WIDT’s company dancers in 13 works by resident and guest choreographers. The pieces include a wide-range of dance styles such as modern, jazz, hip-hop, tap, lyrical and ballet.
At the recent rehearsal the dancers were practicing choreographer Leigh-Ann Cohen’s piece entitled “5/16,” which is set to the music of Igor Stravinsky with a tango, a waltz and a ragtime segment. It is an appropriate homage to the great composer who is being celebrated throughout the world this year on the 125th anniversary of his birth.
Throughout the rehearsal the dancers were working hard to nail down the tempo of sharp movements that Cohen said was crucial to the piece.
She shouted directions to the troupe, “And pop! Chuss! Bam, bam, bah!” — sounding like a master conductor or a gentle regiment leader.
“You are unison among chaos! Turn it out, and long and stretch, and bah! Bah!,” she said, clapping her hands for emphasis.
The girls talked a little about the difference between performing in this show and the more traditional Nutcracker.
“It feels a little more professional because we’re all older dancers and the very little girls are not in this,” Jacquie Cerra said. “With ‘The Nutcracker’ we’re re-learning choreography we’ve already danced; here we’re learning something new.”
In addition to the piece they were presently working on, the girls spoke highly of choreographer Danielle Wilkins and her piece, “Muse of Motion.”
“We can really relate to it because it’s about teens going through their lives,” said Mattens.
“She puts a lot of meaning into her choreography,” said Sarah Styke. “There’s a lot of emotion and style there.”
Also on the program will be Susan Campbell Sandri’s piece, “The Sacred Feminine.” It was selected for performance at the 2007 National Festival of Regional Dance America in April, and WIDT was one of 100 companies that performed at the week-long festival in Pittsburgh, Penn.
These dancers exude dedication. When they are not at school or at home, they said, they are in the dance studio. It was apparent from watching rehearsals just how disciplined these young women are and that getting every step right is important to them. There was no fooling around or extraneous talking; no lack of concentration in sight. Their minds were on the choreography and they were all listening attentively to what directions Cohen was giving them.
Sayaka Yokota summed up the long hours of hard work and what the studio has come to mean to these teenagers.
“This is our second home,” she said.
For tickets and information contact WICA at 221-8268 or visit www.WICAonline.com.
Patricia Duff can be reached at 221-5300 or email@example.com.