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Local Ballet Brings Midsummer to CPS

Mantua - Last week, students at Crestwood Primary School were on their feet, clapping wildly as their school gymnasium was filled with music and dance. Was it simply a cure for cabin fever, or the result of far too many recess periods spent indoors?  It was all that, and much more, as these fortunate kids received a visit, and a performance by the dancers of Ballet Excel Ohio.

The ballet, formerly called the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet, consists of over 40 dancers from area schools who range in age from eight to eighteen-years-old. They performed both a modern dance piece and a classical ballet for CPS students. The first piece was an excerpt from a modern ballet entitled, “Cliques,” which represented adolescent conflict through dance. Twelve dancers, wearing either orange or blue street clothes, represented two different groups. These ‘cliques’ learn to use their similarities to resolve their differences through modern dance.

Next, the Ballet’s Team Excel, a group of fourth and fifth-grade dancers and singers performed for students.  Their program gave CPS students the opportunity to participate with lots of movement, accompanied by giggle-inducing exercises that included tongue twisters and silly vocalizations from musical theater. Team Excel is comprised of 4th and 5th grade participants in the company’s Reach Out and Dance® classes, and showed students that regular kids like themselves can get up and dance, too.

The final number was based on the William Shakespeare work, “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Dancers, transformed into a band of fairies, transfixed CPS students with their performance.

Students clapped heartily at the end of the show. Lining up afterwards, second-grader Hannah exclaimed, “That was AWESOME!” Her classmates readily agreed, as they hurried back to their classrooms to await their classroom visit from some of the performers.

As the costumed dancers traveled throughout the school, they made time to visit each class. While there, they graciously posed for class photos and answered a variety of questions, such as “How do you remember all the dances?” and “How often do you practice?“ to “Where do you get the costumes?“ and “How much hair spray do you use?” Students learned about the dedication these dancers have, devoting much of their after school evenings and weekends to classes and rehearsals. That hard work and dedication is evident in their performances.

Ballet Excel Ohio will be performing Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” on March 8th at EJ Thomas Hall, accompanied by the Akron Symphony Orchestra. On March 15th & 16th, they will be performing, “Beauty and the Beast,” a classical ballet choreographed by Tom Gold. For more information on either show, visit balletexcelohio.org.

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