Bainbridge Dance Center presents 30th annual student performance
By CONNIE MEARS
Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer
June 17, 2011 · 3:33 PM
On your toes
Bainbridge Dance Center’s 30th annual student performance is June 21-June 25 at Bainbridge Performing Arts. Performances are at 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and an additional performance at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Tickets, $17 for adults, and $13 for children under 12, seniors, military, and teachers, are available at the BPA Box Office or by visiting www.bainbridgeperformingarts.org.
Bainbridge Dance Center’s Founder and Director Susan Thompson called the seniors into a circle after last Saturday’s dress rehearsal. Within a few hours, the seniors would be graduating from Bainbridge High School, but in this moment they were acutely aware that another part of their education was coming to a close: Learning to dance.
“I tell them that whenever anything meaningful ends, it’s bittersweet,” Thompson said. “If you don’t feel anything, it didn’t mean anything.”
Tears streamed down the faces of several of the girls.
This isn’t the first time Thompson has had to say goodbye to a graduating class.
“I’m sad, but amazingly happy,” she said. “We’ve never graduated 12 seniors before. I’m sad, but proud and happy.”
Some students have been dancing at the studio since they were 4 years old.
Former BDC student Cora Weed, who works part time at the Center, knows how strong the bonds can be that are formed among the students.
“They dance together six days a week,” she said. “They become the best friends of your life.”
Case in point, one of the “best friends” she made while dancing at BDC for 10 years is getting married this summer. Years later, the two are still close enough that Weed will be in her wedding.
The dozen seniors, including three young men, plus another 165 students, will perform June 21 to 25 at Bainbridge Performing Arts for BDC’s 30th annual student performance.
From the beginning
The faculty begins in July tailoring the following year’s program to showcase the skills of current students. This year’s program features a new original version of “Midsummer Night’s Suite” and advanced repertory choreography of Donald McKayle’s “Rainbow Etude.”
The seniors, including Scott Breitbarh, Lindsay Brown, Alyssa Cottle, Jenna Eady, Jennifer Fay, Alaina Gatzke, Viktor Gazarian, Alena Harris, Carter Kight, Emma McKay, Caroline Reis and Constance Wellman, are highlighted in “Greetings,” with glittering, enchanting costumes designed by BDC’s Associate Director BryAnn Bingham.
“BDC has not only taught me everything I know about dance, but has given me more life skills than I can count,” said Jenna Eady. “Growing up here has changed my life and BDC has become a home away from home.”
The three males, Breitbarh, Gazarian and Kight will perform a tap number together as well.
“I would not be strong enough to pursue my dreams, nor have the creativity to back them up if I had trained at any other studio.” said Gazarian. “BDC has made me the person I am today.”
Younger advanced students make up the ensembles of fairies, dragonflies and butterflies. The younger students look up to the seniors Thompson said, learning by observing the older kids.
“They are very excited to do what they see the older kids doing,” Thompson said. “They admire them, want to be like them. They can’t wait to be a senior.”
A big commitment
Sherrie Farnsworth, a former teacher at BDC and professional dancer who was invited to play Tatania, Queen of the Fairies, in “Midsummer Night’s Suite,” said studying dance has many rewards.
“It helps build self-confidence, discipline and an appreciation for music,” she said.
But it doesn’t come without cost.
“The advanced students are taking multiple disciplines: modern dance, jazz, tap and ballet” she said. “It’s a huge commitment, for them and their families.”
For Karen Eady, senior Jenna Eady’s mom, it was worth every bit.
“I think she was born dancing,” she said, wiping away tears. “Her little legs have been going ever since she was a tot.”
Only a rare few go on to dance professionally.
“Maybe 10 students in the last 10 years,” said Weed, who majored in dance and sociology in college. In the end, social work won out in terms of a career. But no matter what career they end up pursuing, learning dance will serve them well, said Thompson.
“It teaches disclipline, how to work as a team, to feel confident, to present yourself and to challenge yourself,” she said.
“Dance connects the heart, mind, soul and body. They become whole human beings. The arts help make those connections.”
Below are additional comments by BDC seniors:
"I have danced at BDC since 7th grade- and it's been great to watched everyone grow into such beautiful dancers! Everyone has been so supportive and I am very grateful for the time I have spent dancing here"- Emma McKay
"I have been at BDC since I was five years old. I have really grown up here and I love seeing how we have progressed together."- Alyssa Cottle