Sun Country Dance presents Spring Youth Concert on Sunday


Published: Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 10:41 a.m.

Sun Country Dance Theatre presents its sixth-annual Spring Youth Concert, featuring the original story ballet “Little Red Riding Hood,” at 3 p.m. Sunday at the P.K. Yonge Performing Arts Center.

Enlarge |

Sun Country Dance Theatre’s annual Spring Youth Concert will feature dancers Corie Evans, 16, as Little Red Riding Hood, left, and Erin Riley, 14, as Phoenix on Sunday at the P.K. Yonge Performing Arts Center.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer

All tickets are $7, at the door or in advance at Sun County Sports Center West, in Jonesville.

The production opens with “Little Red Riding Hood,” which was created by Sun Country Dance Theatre founder/director Judy Benton in 2013.

“It's more of a funny ballet than a scary ballet,” says Benton about the 45-minute work.

Starring in the title role is 16-year-old Corie Evans, a sophomore at GHS. “She's very expressive, very mature,” says Benton about Corie.

“Little Red is onstage for the entire ballet. So she really has to carry the story. The role calls for a great deal of acting ability.”

While “Little Red Riding Hood” is understandably geared to young children and families, the Spring Youth Concert features major national choreographers in tap and modern dance along with a guest vocalist from UF Opera Theatre and works by Dance Theatre of Santa Fe.

Dance Theatre of Santa Fe will present two pieces, “Charleston” and “Black Bottom,” which were created for a recent “Puttin' on the Ritz” event, Benton says. “They coordinate perfectly with our new tap number, created for us by Anthony LoCascio,” she says.

LoCascio, who is on faculty at the famous Broadway Dance Center and performed with the renowned “Tap Dogs” for 14 years, has created a speakeasy-inspired number titled “Gatsby Rhythm.”

The production also includes works by guest choreographers Emily Christianson and Keith Cross.

Christianson, a professional dancer with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and a frequent contributor to Sun Country Dance Theatre, created “Rondoparisiano” for the production.

“She's worked a long time to find a way to dance,” Benton says of Christianson, who grew up in Gainesville and attended the Eastside High School Culinary Arts program. In her younger years, Christianson performed locally with Gainesville Ballet Theatre and later with Sun Country Dance Theatre. She has danced professionally in San Francisco and at Universal Studios in Orlando.

Cross, a former pupil and company member of Chicago's late, great Gus Giordano, has taught at Boston Ballet School, Ballet Met, Jazz Dance World Congress, Rice University and Houston Ballet.

His “Trespassing,” which Cross created for Sun Country Dance Theatre, will be the closing number of Sunday's production.

Benton says the subject of “Trespassing” is the way people interact with each other throughout their lives. “There are good ways people can trespass through your space, and there are bad ways,” she says.

“The first part of the ballet deals with not really being open to other people, not really paying attention to them or accepting them. How we can block others out for whatever reasons.

“The second section changes to the concept of allowing more people in. The whole atmosphere of the work becomes joyful, uplifting.”

“The dance contains a lot of heavy partnering work,” says Benton, “which the dancers really had to work on. It's intense the way Keith choreographed them in the first section, dancing with each other but not really with each other, being present physically but not emotionally.”

Benton notes that Cross has invited the cast to be part of “Merging Forces,” a large Houston dance concert in February 2015.

“The dancers are already so excited to go, so we're going to fundraise and make it happen,” Benton says.

Also part of Sunday's performance, vocalist Jasmine Robinson will sing “Alleluia” from Mozart's “Exsultate, Jubilate,” as well as Victor Herbert's “Art is Calling for Me” from “The Enchantress.”

Robinson, who will perform in UF Opera Theatre's upcoming “Red Silk Thread,” teaches early-childhood ballet classes at Dance Sun Country, the dance training program of Sun Country Sports Center in Jonesville.

As the official school of Sun Country Dance Theatre, its audition-based, resident performing company, Dance Sun Country offers ballet, modern, jazz, tap and hip-hop.

Sarah Ingley can be reached at sarahi@ufl.edu.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top