Consider what comes to your mind when you read the word dance. What motion or emotion flashes across your mind? Often in our shared youth culture we are exposed to various forms of, dare I say, “popular” dance moves. We have been to school dances and concerts. We have watched movies and music videos. We have seen other people move rhythmically to a beat or tune, and many of us have done the same . . . even if it was merely in the comfort of our own homes. We are surrounded by fun, energising, radical, and even promiscuous dance in popular culture. It is easy to forget that dance is also an art form. It is beauty, it is movement, and it is strength. The Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet highlights this beauty and strength that resonates in our culture.
I entered the Harrisburg Whitaker Center looking to take my seat to watch the dress rehearsal for CPYB’s latest production: Once Upon a Rhyme. This show surrounds the Nursery rhyme of Little Bo Peep who has inevitably lost her sheep. In the process of looking for these sheep many other nursery rhyme characters make appearances throughout the show. However, there are some unexpected twists in this show leading to a sense of rejuvenation of these old tales.
As I entered the building, I found myself being greeted by Abby Jayne DeAngelo (a current CPYB dancer), and her mother Mrs. DeAngelo. I asked Abby Jayne about her experiences at this dance school. She explained to me how The Pennsylvania Youth Ballet is a full time institution. Students at this dance school spend four to six hours of the day doing what they love; dance. When I asked Abby Jayne about the most challenging aspects of this particular show, she responded that the trick is keeping this show “alive and full of energy.” She explained how the technical dancing of this show was fairly simple. Keeping the audience engaged with this particular performances movement would be the challenge for these dancers.
With the term “simple” in mind I took my place in the audience and waited for the curtain to open. However, immediately after Mrs. Goose (the school teacher) took the stage I began to question my definition of “simple” dance. I did not see simplicity. I saw beauty, and the concept of beauty in it’s own right is a complex subject. I became enthralled in the show. I forgot about that text I had just sent. I forgot about the latest twitter fight. I forgot about my homework, and my teachers, and even true awareness of where I was. I sat, intently watching as my childhood nursery rhymes gracefully swept across the stage. These iconic nursery figures from our childhood pranced, argued, searched, and played. This was theatrical storytelling through music and movement. It was engaging and delightfully nostalgic.
The Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet will be performing Nutcracker December 12th and 13th at the Whitaker Center, and December 19th and 20th at the Hershey Theater. I encourage all to attend. Be brave and curious. Break your weekend routine, grab some friends, and spend a night watching this world of dance and performance.
Written by: Miranda Hallas