Fall ballet returns this weekend

Follow the yellow brick road to GlenOak High School to see the fall ballet, The Wizard of Oz.

The Cast B leads link arms and dance. (left to right) Breanna DePinto, Makenna Croxton, Alexa Artino, Gracie Dyer and Chloe Dotson

Madison Jabri, Copy Editor

There is no place like the home of green and gold, certainly not in Kansas. This year’s Plain Local Ballet is none other than The Wizard of Oz

The performances will take place in GlenOak High School’s Abbey Foltz theater on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 13 at 12 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. 

Jacquenette Blaydes teaches dance for 7-12th graders in GlenOak. This year Saturday Enrichment students will also be performing on stage, this includes dancers from 3 years old to 14 years old. 

“It is one of my favorite ballets and has a wide range of parts to allow challenging and interesting choreography,” Blaydes said. 

The ballet will follow the classic story of The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy and her dog Toto are swept away to the magical land of Oz. Along their journey home, they meet many unique characters with an exciting adventure at every turn. 

The role of Dorothy will be played by seniors Brooke Archer and Breanna DePinto, the Scarecrow will be Chloe Dotson, the Tin Man will be Alexa Artino and Rachel Stranger, the Lion will be Gracie Dyer and Toto will be Makenna Croxton and Ryleigh Dotson. 

“I really enjoy this ballet and have dreamed of being Dorothy ever since I was a poppy in 3rd grade,” DePinto said. 

Playing a lead role provides the opportunity to learn new skills and also presents new challenges to overcome.

“I’ve had to push myself a lot in many aspects, such as memorization of a lot of choreography, more difficult dancing, and using theatrical expressions. I’ve spent a lot of time practicing to be Dorothy, as this part is demanding technically and theatrically,” Archer said.

Every role works together to make a memorable performance. A memorable performance is necessary due to the restrictions that were in place during the previous ballet. 

“The Wizard of Oz was a great choice for the ballet this year because during the Pandemic the dance program couldn’t do as big of a show as we normally do, but this ballet will start us off again with a bang (and a really strong gust of wind),” Stranger said.

The current senior class of dancers is relatively small. This has led to some but not all of the roles being double casted. 

“It feels a lot different when you’re a lead and you really have a big responsibility. I think it also has more diverse dance numbers, not everyone is on point,” Ryleigh said. 

Preparations for the show began in June. For most of the rehearsal process, the dancers were required to wear masks.

“Throughout the ballet, having to wear a mask has limited my characterization as the Lion. My role includes lots of interactions with all of the cast and hiding behind a mask has been a struggle for me,” Dyer said.

The dancers had to find a way to overcome the restrictions put in place for them.

“Something I found difficult was the fact that we all had to leave our comfort zones, get closer with each other and work together more to really develop the show,” Ryleigh said.

The majority of the restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been removed. This year the dancers will not have to wear masks and will be able to perform for a full audience.

“There are always challenges but none that our dancers can’t leap (saut de chat) and turn ( pirouette) around,” Blaydes said.

Another notable difference about this year is the amount of technical work being done backstage, including the head of Oz being pre-recorded, edited and synced with the soundtrack.

“The ballet is one of the more tech-heavy shows I’ve worked and personally I’m very excited. It’s truly amazing how all of the smaller parts of the show can come together and make a great experience for everyone,” senior Light and Sound Career Technical student Shawn McArthur said. 

Both the technical behind-the-scenes aspects and the performances of the cast come together to create a memorable experience for the audience.  

“I’m so passionate about dance because it gives me an outlet that combines athletics with creativity, allowing me to push myself in multiple ways. But overall, getting to perform is exhilarating and being on stage gives me a feeling of intense happiness,” Archer said.

All of the hard work of the crew and countless hours spent rehearsing since June are finally being put together and combined on stage.

“Our cast is extremely dedicated to the ballet. We have all developed our characters and stretched our dancing abilities. We have put in our blood, sweat and tears to make this the best ballet yet,” Dyer said.

The hard work of the dancers allows for a story to be told on stage through movement.

“I’ve done it my entire life, you can express emotions through body movement. I love performing for audiences,” Chloe Dotson said.

The current cast of The Wizard of Oz finally has the opportunity to perform in front of a full audience.

“The other dancers and I are very excited about performing this show, and we would love for anyone interested to come and support the Plain Local dance program by attending the performances,” Archer said.