Ballet: Bringing Regional 'Shadows' to Pittsburgh

The stage at Maryville College Wilson Chapel a few weeks ago was familiar, comfortable, for the dancers of the Appalachian Ballet, when they took to the stage for an elegant spring performance titled "Anniversary Waltz."

They danced beautifully, offering the audiences a wide variety of dances, from waltz to modern to traditional ballet. They even encouraged audience participation at the fund-raising reception following the ballet, although it took a certain kind of courage to take to the dance floor with the combination of those elegant and nimble dancers and the dancing duo of Fred and Jane Tolhurst.

But many did, and the Tolhursts offered instruction and gentle encouragement to the novices. It was a beautiful, fun and glorious evening.

And now, the ballet company takes to a new stage, one not quite so familiar. Amy Moore Morton, Appalachian Ballet Company artistic director, took 12 dancers from the company to Pittsburgh for Regional Dance America, a national dance festival. It is only the second time in the history of the organization that a national dance festival has brought member companies together in one place, with nearly 2,000 pre-professional dancers and dance professionals in attendance.

The companies will do five performances in five days, with over 40 master classes being taught daily by renowned dance instructors. More than 90 regional dance companies are attending.

"It is not a competition," said Morton, before the group left for Pittsburgh. "It is a festival with high quality classical ballet companies attending under strict guideline memberships. These are America’s companies that are feeding the professional pool of American classical ballet."

The company will dance "In the Shadows," with music by Fritz Kriesler, choreographed by Morton with costumes by Angie Wood. Dancers performing in Pittsburgh are Caroline Anglim, Megan Bledsoe, Brittany Blum, Jennifer Cardwell, Emily Corgan, Kylie Morton, Anne Souder, Mary Souder, Ashley Smith, Stephanie Swain, Heather Wilcoxon, with Chandler Blum as understudy.

At the Anniversary Waltz, Sherri Gardner Howell took these pictures.

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