Dance Alive hosts benefit with local stars

Carla Amancio and Andre Valladon, principal dancers with Dance Alive National Ballet, will appear along with the student company Next Generation in Saturday's Benefit Concert for Dance Alive.

AARON DAYE/The Gainesville Sun, file photo
Published: Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 11:05 a.m.

Dance Alive National Ballet presents its "Benefit Concert: To Support the Artists of DANB" at 7 p.m. Saturday at Eastside High School.

Tickets to the repertory production, which primarily showcases young student dancers, are $10.

The performance will feature DANB principal dancers Carla Amancio and Andre Valladon in sections of the comic ballet "Coppelia." Amancio and Valladon have staged the corps de ballet scenes on 30 young dancers of Next Generation.

Next Generation is the student company of Pofahl Studios, the official school of Dance Alive National Ballet. The Benefit Concert will highlight the talents of these youth and the choreography of professionals while raising funds for DANB, an adult professional company that is separate from, but associated with, Next Generation.

The Next Generation will perform works choreographed by DANB artistic director Kim Tuttle, former DANB principal dancer Stephanie Heston and Omoniyi Osoba, among others.

Osoba, a recent graduate in dance from Florida International University, grew up performing with Next Generation. She returned to Pofahl Studios last summer as guest teacher/choreographer to set her original "African Suite" on the Next Generation, which will premiere at Saturday's benefit.

Valladon also has set "Le Corsaire Pas de Deux" on students Elizabeth Kessler and Brian Hunter.

Another standout student is 12-year-old Emily Davis. Emily, a seventh grader at Lincoln Middle School, will perform not only at Saturday's benefit, but also at Nashville's famed Grand Ole Opry, where she will enjoy a five-week run as Clara (from "The Nutcracker") in the "Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular."

Emily was cast in the professional role after a July audition in New York that was granted to recipients of New York City Dance Alliance scholarships. This particular audition for Radio City Music Hall's legendary Christmas production was one of several held across the U.S.

Emily was ultimately one of 10 Claras cast across the nation for six productions of "Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular." The world-famous Rockette extravaganza runs not only in New York City and Nashville but also in cities like Los Angeles and Chicago. The Nashville site's performances run Nov. 20 through Dec. 27, with tickets starting at $105.

Emily says that there are performances twice a day including Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. "This was one of my dreams that I really wanted," says Emily, who also auditioned in 2008 but did not make it to the final cut. "So I worked hard and improved."

Emily says the audition consisted of actual choreography - all en pointe - from the show, and that she was able to remember some of it from her prior audition. "I especially remembered the choreography that I had been cut on," she says. "When it came up, I was like, 'OK, I just gotta make it through this part.' And then I heard them announce my name to stay on.

"They would teach us a combination," she explains, "and then make cuts after each one. They finally narrowed it down to seven of us, which guarantees you a spot on the waiting list. I didn't know whether I would actually be cast or not until they called us about two days later; it was very quick."

Emily, who also has studied at American Ballet Theatre and at the Joffrey Ballet School, laughs when she recalls how she learned she'd been cast as Clara:

"Well, I was in Miami and my good friend Delanie called to tell me 'congratulations.' And I was like, 'For what?' So then I checked my messages and found out that I had gotten the part."

Locals can catch Emily in several works as part of Saturday's performance at Eastside.

Sarah Ingley can be reached at

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