Vashon dancers leap into spring productions
By Milo Carr, Reporter, & Savannah Butcher, Reporter
As summer approaches, Vashon Island’s two most prominent dance companies, Blue Heron and Vashon Dance Academy, are preparing for their respective performances. The island community routinely turns out in high numbers to watch the shows, rewarding the dancers’ long-term commitment.
This year, Vashon Dance Academy (VDA) is performing “The Wizard of Oz.” Freshman Isa Sanson-Frey and junior Gwynne Valencia will be alternating leads, sharing the role of Dorothy. Valencia will also be playing Glinda the Good Witch, while Sanson-Frey’s second role is the Wicked Witch of the West.
“This year our teachers decided to give us two roles,” Sanson-Frey said. “One role they think would challenge us, and one role that’s more or less in our comfort zone.”
Dancers have been rehearsing since late February, and believe that their hard work will pay off.
“It’s always a little nerve-wracking because you want it to be perfect, and it’s hard to feel ready, but the show always comes together,” Sanson-Frey said. “It’s always really fun and beautiful.”
The other lead roles of the Lion, Scarecrow, and Tinman will be played on various nights by sophomores Lyla Mildon and Aidan Rees and junior Hannah Spranger. The VDA performance will take place the weekend of June 7, with shows on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
The VDA has spent many hours rehearsing and perfecting their shows for this weekend.
Gibson is also the stage manager for the production and a ballet instructor at the VDA. This is the 19th VDA show she’s been involved in.
Leading up to the performance, dancers rehearse in their classes, and the more advanced students often commit to weekend rehearsals. The week before the performance, known as “Theater Week,” involves the dancers rehearsing in the theater every day.
“One of the most challenging parts of rehearsal is getting the dancers to find their inner strength,” Gibson said. “They all have it; they’re all these wonderful dancers, and it’s finding the words and the actions to build their own confidence [so they can] really shine on stage, and when they do, it’s also one of the most satisfying things.”
This year, Gibson is especially excited to showcase her advanced dancers.
“I think this year we have some really strong, advanced pointe dancers, and I got to rehearse with them and do some hard pointe work with those [dancers], so that was one of the best parts of the show for me,” Gibson said.
Along with dedicated teachers, volunteers have been a consistent component of VDA productions.
“We have wonderful parent volunteers who make the most beautiful sets and costumes,” Gibson said. “The tradition of the whole community of dancers and parents volunteering is so strong and continues to be so strong. That’s one thing I’ve seen through the 19 years that always amazes me — all these parents step up. ”
Recently, The Blue Heron also had a dance performance. The company performed their version of “Hook and Pan” the first weekend of June. The cast included freshman Arianna Vickers as Wendy, Gwenyth Burrell and Talia Roybal as Tinkerbell, Gus Holmes and Kaylee Radford as Captain Hook, and Duncan Barlow as Peter Pan.
The group had been rehearsing since early March, and are working hard to finish the final dances prior to the show. They have performed together many times prior, making for a tight-knit group.
“When I’m at [The Katherine L. White Hall] for a performance, at the end of the weekend, I don’t want to go home,” Holmes said.
Most of the cast has been dancing since they were three or four years old.
“I’ve done many shows, and they’re all extremely fun,” Holmes said.
“Overall, any age of dancers trying their hardest is truly the best, and getting to watch my friends and peers give so much time and effort into each of their roles was amazing to watch because they all have come a long way,” Freshman Lila Kramer said. “It’s such a great community, and all the hard work everyone put in for this performance would not have been fun without each other.”