Ballet dancers rise to the occasion

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    By Lindsay Bird

    Sixteen dancers line up in front of a mirror stretching across one wall of a practice room in the Richards Building. They rise up to their full height, toes pointed, balancing on a tiny piece of wood in their shoes. It takes the average dancer four years to be able to go on pointe, and this week the BYU ballet department will display years of hard work in their annual Ballet Showcase.

    This year?s showcase features ballet dancers in programs conjuring up a range of contrasting emotions from the tragic to the comical.

    Shani Robison, artistic director of the Ballet Showcase Company, contributed two pieces to the program this year, including, ?Lingering Memories,? and ?Reflections.?

    ?Lingering Memories,? is a tribute to the memory of Sept. 11th victims and heroes, a topic Robison said she chose to try to leave a powerful impression on the audience.

    ?I want to perform at least one piece that hopefully touches and affects the audience in a changing way,? Robison said. ?Something that reaches more deeply into people than your typical outwardly expressive piece.?

    The second piece by Robison, ?Reflections,? exhibits the talents and strengths of the dancers by allowing them to focus on the artistry and technique of ballet.

    ?It is performed in lovely pastel dresses,? said Lynne Thompson, publicity director for BYU ballet. ?The dancers float across the stage in a stunning display of artistry and pure reflection of the beauty of ballet.?

    Another piece, ?The Audition,? is about aspiring dancers and their attempts at success, which gets tangled up in comical situations. Thompson said, the humorous choreography that comes alive in ?The Audition,? strikes an all too familiar chord for promising young dancers.

    For many of the dancers in the program, these diverse pieces have been some of the highlights of participating in this year?s showcase.

    ?I”m looking forward to the diversity of the program,? said Laura Bennion, a senior from Fresno, Calif. ?I think it will have very fresh and inventive things, as well as more classical, traditional pieces. That kind of show is so interesting to watch.?

    The showcase is a result of many hours of the dancers? dedication and discipline.

    ?I love the daily discipline it takes and then the satisfaction of succeeding from working hard,? Bennion said. ?I also love to feel beautiful and strong ? both are necessary characteristics for ballet.?

    However, one of the biggest misconceptions about ballet is that it is only grace and beauty.

    Jan Dijkwel, artistic director of theater ballet, said ballet is physically demanding for both males and females.

    ?I always have an open invitation for any males to come and take my class and see if they can get through 30 minutes of it,? Dijkwel said.

    The showcase will be this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Dance Studio Theatre, located in Room 166 of the Richards Building. Tickets are available for $5 at the HFAC Ticket Office, by calling 422-4322 or visiting artstix.byu.edu.

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