Dance recital season in full swing

Dancers appearing in Dance Sun Country’s annual recital on Sunday include Erin Riley, in back wearing green; Savannah Johnson, in middle wearing grey; and Cassidy Burdge, in front wearing blue. (Courtesy of Eric Warm)

Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 11:50 a.m.

The dance-recital season is underway nationally, and Gainesville is no exception. This month, both Joni Messler Studio of Dance and Dance Sun Country present their annual student recitals at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Dance Sun Country, the studio training program of Sun Country Sports Center, presents “Swirls of Sweets and Twirling Treats” on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $8.50 at the Phillips Center box office and at the door. Advance tickets also are available, for $9.50, at Sun Country Sports Center in Jonesville.

Conceived by Dance Sun Country director Judy Benton, “Swirls of Sweets and Twirling Treats” features beginner-to-advanced dancers performing about 35 numbers. Audiences can expect ballet, jazz, modern, musical theater and contemporary works.

“Swirls of Sweets and Twirling Treats” is unique in that Sun Country provides three “boys-only” classes, each of which will perform numbers in the program.

Miscellaneous dances include “Visions of Sugar Plums,” “Big League Chew,” “Candy Rapperz” and “Spoonful of Sugar.”

Sun Country Dance Theatre, the resident performing troupe of Sun Country, also will perform. Works include “Kashira,” a contemporary ballet piece created by guest choreographer Alora Haynes, fine arts chair at Santa Fe College and a retired professional ballet dancer.

Sun Country’s graduating high school seniors this year are: Kimberlyn Elliott, Amy MacNeil and Jasmine Robinson. Each dancer will perform a solo in the recital.

Joni Messler Studio of Dance performs “What a Way to Go” on May 26 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $6 in advance through the Phillips Center box office (392-2787) or at the door.

“What a Way to Go,” which has a travel and transportation theme, is Joni Messler Studio’s 54th annual recital. Joni Messler, studio owner, directs the production.

The recital includes classical ballet, tap, jazz and contemporary dances performed by preschoolers to young adults.

Gainesville Ballet Theatre, the performing company founded by Messler, also will perform works in the program. Gainesville Ballet Theatre is best known for Messler’s original holiday ballet, “The Little Match Girl,” based on the Hans Christian Andersen Christmas fairy tale.

This year’s featured high school senior is Grace Lee. Grace is an Eastside senior graduating from the International Baccalaureate program there.

Grace also assists in teaching children at Joni Messler Studio, along with the more established studio faculty.

“I love my faculty,” says Messler. “I really am blessed with a wonderful staff.”

As to what has kept her in business through over 40 years, Messler laughs and says, “Thank heaven for little girls”.

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