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Dancing through history

Cassie Pence
Vail Daily/Cassie PenceCourtney Davis, Jonathon Windham and Catherine Dann dance center stage to the end of the Vail Valley Dance Academy's "Oklahoma" number featured in its spring recital. Originally a Broadway musical, the academy will perform it as a ballet.
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BEAVER CREEK – As Vail Valley Academy of Dance students shimmy through chapters of American history during their spring recital, “All American Moments in Time,” three senior steppers will be closing chapters of their own.Battle Mountain High School seniors Courtney Davis, Catherine Dann and Jonathan Windham take their final bow with the academy Friday and Saturday after years of dance dedication. Davis and Dann have been with the troupe since first grade and Windham since ninth grade. All three will transition to college life in the fall, and Windham will continue his dance career at State University of New York, the Purchase campus.”It’s always sad to lose a big part of your life. I’m glad to be moving on, but I probably will cry,” said Dann, who will attend Boston University after the summer.

Spending 20 hours, five days a week in the Edwards studio has formed bonds of friendship closer to kinship than locker mates for the dancers. The relationships they will miss most. “For the last four years, this has been my life. I’ll miss the teachers, the amazing costumes, the performances and all my friends,” said Windham. “It’s a little bit sad, but I’m off to do something completely new and different.””We’re all a little family now,” said Davis, who is enrolled at University of Colorado and plans to study medicine.The academy, led by owner Anne Powell, has taught the young athletes more than just dance. Davis said she learned to be more organized in order to balance late-night rehearsals, school and other clubs and organizations. She also gained confidence and people skills.

“I learned so much from my teachers and the other girls. I learned cooperation, being able to work as a team. Dance is about learning from each other, watching other people and finding your own style,” said Dann.But if it weren’t for all the fun, none of the dancers would be able to commit the time they did. Unanimously, “The Nutcracker” performances, which they dance in every other year, were their favorite memory. “I know everybody dreads being in the studio all day Saturdays, but we really have fun with it. Hiding ripped costumes from the teachers, and trying to sew it before we had to go on, piercing each other’s ears, water fights,” said Davis. “When I was little, I always wanted to be in ‘The Nutcracker.’ My favorite music was the flower piece. For my last ‘Nutcracker,’ I was Dew Drop, the flower queen. It was a big accomplishment for me.”

‘All American Moments in Time’Everything about the academy’s spring recital is professional, from the flashy costumes to the big-screen backdrops to the fact that young dancers must use the artists’ entrance at the Vilar Center and funnel down the back stairs to the stage.This year the academy staff chose an all-American theme as a conscious effort to bridge the gap that the country might be feeling after such a divided election, said Powell.”We wanted to express that we are all a part of this country. It’s not just about red states and blue states,” said Powell.

“All American Moments in Time” covers Native Americans, Southern belles, ’50s, hip-hop, flight attendants, cheerleaders, the Navy and the wild west.”It’s things that are uniquely American,” Powell said. “Like the land rush in ‘Oklahoma.’ Our version is fresh, but recognizable.”The academy will perform a ballet version to the Broadway music of “Oklahoma.” Another innovative number is “Sing, Sing, Sing.” The tap class will quick step on large, homemade drums.Tickets for “All American Moments in Time” are $15 and can be purchased at the Vilar box office. Friday’s show starts at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday’s show begins at 2 p.m. For more information on the Vail Valley Academy of Dance, call the Edwards studio at 926-2820.

Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or cpence@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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