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These dancers are on pointe

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyThe Vail Youth Ballet Company will perform a mix of classical ballet and modern and theatrical dances this weekend.
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EDWARDS, Colorado ” Inside a brightly-lit studio in Edwards, teenaged girls practice a dance called the Pas de Prokofiev. The ballerinas perform a series of jumps, their pointe shoes hitting the floor with a thump.

“Try to land soft!” instructs Anne Powell, the director of the dance company, an enthusiastic woman with short dirty-blonde hair, tortoise-shell glasses, a fleece vest, wraparound skirt and leggings.

The girls keep dancing, and this time the classical music blasting from the stereo is the only sound.

“That’s better,” Powell says with a nod.

This is one of the final rehearsals before the girls assume the stage at Vail Mountain School in East Vail to perform “In Constant Motion.”

The show stars 20 teens in the Vail Youth Ballet Company. Ranging from 12 to 18 years old, the girls are the cream of the valley’s youth-dancing crop, a posse of ladies so technically proficient, they make leaping in pointe shoes look easy.

The show is sponsored by Friends of the Dance, a group of community members who meet in Edwards and provide things like guest teachers and scholarships for local dancers.

The program shows off the girls’ diverse talents. In “Balls of Air,” they wield large, colorful balloons from a specialty shop in Salt Lake City.

In “Between Friends,” the ballerinas show off their theatrical abilities. The dance, which focuses on friendship, has playful elements. Girls pick each other up and leap-frog over one another.

Along with having fun, the teens will show off their skills in classic ballets from “Sleeping Beauty.”

A series of graceful leaps characterizes “Awakenings,” a dance set to an Antonio Vivaldi composition. Guest choreographer Molly Churchill dedicates the dance to her mother, who passed away about a year ago.

Girls become eligible to audition for the dance company at age 12. Those who make it follow a rigorous practice schedule and form close bonds.

“It’s definitely a family environment because we spend most of our lives here,” said 18-year-old Molly Allard, who performs a solo in the show.

Girls have been practicing three nights per week and all day on Saturday.

“They’re very devoted,” Powell said. “It’s different from a sport because their sport is all year.”

Some of the girls strive to be professional dancers. Allard is auditioning for musical theater and dance programs at eight colleges. Other ballerinas dance purely for fun.

“I just love to dance,” Susanna DeChant, 15, said. “It’s the movement and the feeling when you get the step right ” it’s a huge adrenaline rush. That’s why I’m still here.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 748-2938 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.


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