Vail youths master retro dance moves
Vail CO, Colorado
EDWARDS, Colorado ” On a Saturday afternoon, the Vail Valley Academy of Dance looks like the set of “Austin Powers.”
Teenaged girls clad in halter dresses scamper across the dance floor screaming “Austin!” as the movie’s theme songs blares from a stereo.
Normally, a 13-year-old boy sits in the middle of this action, wearing a ruffled poet shirt and reading a book as girls dance around him but Austin Powers is off competing in the Junior Olympics on this day.
This ’60s spectacle is a rehearsal for “Flashback,” a community theater show set for Saturday night at Vail Mountain School in East Vail. Members of the Vail Youth Ballet will team up with the Vail Performing Arts Academy to present historic dances and songs from the musical “Hairspray.”
The show forced members of the Vail Youth Ballet to branch out from the standard ballet and jazz numbers.
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“It’s good for them to diversify and to broaden their experience of doing different styles,” said Colin Meiring, the ballet company’s artistic director.
For instance, the Austin Powers number exposed the dancers to famous choreographer Bob Fosse’s style, Meiring said. Fosse choreographed such well-known musicals as “The Pajama Game” and “Sweet Charity.”
“(Fosse’s style was) so different and it’s part of history,” Meiring said. “He was the only one who ever introduced that style of knocked knees and wrist flicking.”
Other dances include a modern ballet piece set to “Amazing Grace,” a hip hop number and a swing dance to the big band hit “In the Mood.”
Learing how to swing dance was a fun and challenging experience for 14-year-old Meredith Steinke from Vail.
“It’s different because you have to dance with somebody and you have to know where they’re going and you have to totally trust them,” Steinke said of her dance partner. “He pulls me through his legs and we do all sorts of really fun things. He carries me, we do cartwheels over each other.”
Along with the dances, the show will open with numbers from the musical “Hairspray.” More than 60 students enrolled in the Vail Performing Arts Academy are involved in the show, which is about racial integration in the ’60s.
“It has to do with the cultural changes that have gone on in the last 50 years specifically relating to racism,” academy executive producer Annah Scully said. “Especially in this era when we have our first black president, teaching kids a little bit about what America has gone through and what teenagers have done and how their impact has been signficant in making those changes.”
Set in 1962 Baltimore, the show follows a “pleasantly plump” teenager named Tracy Turnblad (played by Haley Vest) as she strives to be a dancer on a local TV show and mobilizes against racial segregation. Locally, the show will star children ages eight to 18.
For 14-year-old Keegs Quagliano, an Edwards teen who plays a “cool guy” who falls for Tracy, the show’s message hit home.
“I learned to take people for who they are, to look for the good qualities on the inside,” he said.
High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or email@example.com.