Dance Company performs fairy tale ballet

Allyson Putman
Staff writer

Photos by Jordie Oetken/The News

Audiences of all ages will enjoy a fairytale ballet performance by the Jackson Purchase Dance Company at 7:30 tonight in Lovett Auditorium.

This season marks the 20th anniversary of the Jackson Purchase Dance Company. To celebrate this milestone, the dancers will perform the original story/ballet “Cinderella.”

Karen Balzer, artistic director for the company, co-authored the program with Ruth Jackson in 1986. She said 40 actors and dancers are performing in the production this evening.

The company puts on a ballet program each year before the Murray State Rotary Club Christmas Parade. Balzer said the company tries to perform a show that will kick off the holiday season.

“We used to do the Nutcracker every year, but we wanted to switch it up this year,” she said. “We haven’t done this show since 1996.” She said it was a popular ballet when performed in the past.

Due to the company’s involvement and work with children in the area, Balzer said the Ronald McDonald House and Murray-Calloway County Community Foundation provide funding for the programs.

This year, the company’s performers vary in age, with several dancers from local elementary schools participating. The company travelled to eight different elementary schools for performances earlier today.

The dancers from the middle schools attended are given two-minute solo pieces to perform.

Balzer said the solo pieces would continue the fairytale theme by including dances to “Beauty and the Beast,” “Robin Hood,” “Sleeping Beauty” and other fairytale classics.

Elementary students are not the only ones debuting their dance skills, as many Murray State students are performing in this production for the first time with the company as well.

Michael Martin, senior from St. Louis, Mo., is a first year performer with the company.

“I’ve been taking the Murray State (dance) classes for two years but this is my first time actually performing,” Martin said.

He said he is looking forward to the show and performing with the talented dancers on stage. Martin said he has especially enjoyed getting to watch the younger participants grow in their talents and dancing.

“Being that I haven’t taken dance that long, it’s cool to see the progression among dancers of all ages,” he said.

Martin is playing the role of the father in “Cinderella.”

Paige Berg, senior from St. Louis, Mo., is also a first year participant with the company, though she said she has danced previously.

“I’ve been dancing for about six years, but this is my first performance,” she said.

Berg said she has been practicing for roughly six-and-a-half hours per week between classes and outside rehearsals for the show.

To be a part of the Jackson Purchase Dance Company, there are no auditions but a tuition fee must be paid and participants must dedicate their time to rehearsals and performances. Balzer said the company has a discounted tuition price for Murray State students wishing to participate at $25 per class.

Balzer said the ballet program held last December rendered a turnout of roughly 300 people, though she hopes for even more this year.

The prices to attend the show are $8 for adults, $6 for students under 16 and children under age 3 get in for free.

For more information about the Jackson Purchase Dance Company, please contact Karen Balzer at kbalzer@murraystate.edu.

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