Six Bearden students participate in ‘Alice’ ballet at Bijou


Abby Ann Ramsey, Staff Writer

Most students spend their weekends hanging out with friends, going to sporting events, watching movies, or even studying. Six Bearden students, however, have spent the past countless weekends rehearsing for the ballet Alice which they performed last week with Go! Contemporary Dance Works at the Bijou Theatre.

Senior Ruth Ann Bendy, senior Kaitlyn Ozdych, junior Gillian Howard, sophomore Yuval Koenig, sophomore Julia Ozdych, and freshman Emma Miller rehearsed every weekend leading up to the opening of the show and were forced outside of their comfort zones to create a fun and animated, but also beautifully elegant show for the public to see.

The show was based off the classic novel Alice in Wonderland written by Lewis Carroll, but was adapted into a ballet by Lisa Hall McKee, the choreographer and owner of Knoxville’s Studio Arts for Dancers. Most of the original story remained unchanged, but McKee took the creative liberty of adding a few characters to assist in the storytelling and to add depth to the choreography.

The show consisted of ballet, pointe, modern, and aerial, a type of dance in which the performer is suspended by silks. Aerial is considered an impressive skill that is hard for many to master.

“Doing aerial is really fun, but it takes a lot of practice and lots of strength,” said Bendy, who played the Cheshire Cat and spent a large amount of time on the silks.

The dancers put in a jaw-dropping amount of practice to perform an extremely hard show, all while looking graceful and elegant.

“We memorize combinations within seconds, perform them while looking graceful, remember every rule of ballet, and then we change our style of dance the next hour,” said Julia Ozdych, who is a veteran of 10 shows with the company.

The dancing was extremely impressive, as was the time and effort they put into it, but perhaps most impressive is the bond that everyone in the company shares. Comprised of 39 teenage girls, Go! is a community in and of itself.

Go! is like my second family and watching everyone work so hard to create something and see it come to life on the stage is so rewarding,” Howard said.

All the members of the company rely on each other completely and have grown to become best friends. These friendships are crucial to putting on an artistic, graceful ballet.

“We do not perform to compete with one another, but to share a story with people and create something much bigger than us,” Kaitlyn Ozdych said.

The friendships and bonds can be especially hard to leave for the seniors who have spent their whole lives dancing with these people. Most seniors have been a part of the company since middle school, but have danced at Studio Arts for Dancers even longer. They are sad to be leaving the company, but are also hopeful for what lies ahead.

“It was my last show with Go! and I am still adjusting to the change and after seven years of performing with my best friends, specifically Ruth Ann Bendy, it’s time for me to turn the page,” Ozdych said.

Each and everyone of the performers has an intense passion for what they do. They are pushed farther and farther each day, spend countless hours in rehearsal, yet still love the art of dance.

“The beautiful part of it is the creative impulses each person releases,” Julia Ozdych said. “We learn new techniques and freedoms to create poetry that we can share with ourselves and others.”