Great expectations

ADU looks to future as they celebrate 10th anniversary

Artistic Dance Unlimited is taking a page from Charles Dickens for its spring recital. “Past, Present & Future -- Celebrating 10 Years of Dance Excellence “ will pay tribute to the Alcoa-based studio’s humble beginnings, current success and great expectations. No ghosts are invited, but there may be a few little green men.

Alette Chase and Ursula Margolis, co-owners and directors of Artistic Dance Unlimited, say the recital will be more than a sentimental journey.

“We like to put on a good, entertaining show that’s going to be appealing to the majority of the general audience, “ says Margolis. “We find that we have more variety that way.

“A lot of schools will have a ballet show and then a tap and jazz show. We put in everything because we teach every discipline at the most advanced level here. We just put it all in all three shows. “

The ADU recital will be at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday at the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre at the Clayton Center for the Arts at Maryville College. Tickets are $12 each.

The different eras of the studio’s decade of existence will be represented in assorted ways.

“We have some numbers that we have used in the past as far as music -- different choreography, but it’s music that we have taken from past years, “ says Margolis, who met Chase when both were instructors at different area studios. “And then obviously the present -- the numbers that are brand new, that this year have just evolved due to present-day circumstances.

“This year also is special for us because a couple of our graduating students have actually been with us since before we started. They started with Alette the year before we opened the dance studio. So we’ve really watched them grow and love them like our own girls, and they’ll be graduating this year. So that is going to be really touching for us. “

The future appears in the form of the show’s grand finale, a hip-hop production number with all 54 dancers from the studio’s dance company called “Alien Invasion. “ It was choreographed by ADU instructors Courtney Vastine and Megan Blevins.

“Courtney and Megan did a great job on it, “ says Margolis. “It starts out kind of like a sleepover, a slumber party, and their party gets invaded by aliens. It sounds kind of crazy, but the dance is really awesome, and the kids have just absolutely loved it.

“We finish the recital with that dance because aliens -- well, it’s kind of futuristic, and who knows what the future will bring for us? More great choreography, more great students. “

For now, Margolis and Chase are jazzed about the present and the prospect of having their students perform on the stage at the new Clayton Center.

“We had our very first recital at William Blount’s auditorium, which seated 400, “ says Chase. “By the second year of business we had outgrown that facility as far as having our show, and we were only doing one show then. “

Since that time, ADU has alternated between other area high schools and has had to put on up to four performances of the recital to accommodate the audiences.

“The fact that we get to have our shows at the Clayton Center is just absolutely so exciting and thrilling to us, “ says Chase. “Every time we walk in there, we’re like, ‘We really get to have our show here!’

“The seating capacity is great, but just for the dancers, there’s adequate dressing-room space, there’s adequate lighting, there’s adequate sound and the acoustics are great.

“This is going to so enhance what we’ve been trying to do for the past nine years. We’ve always put on good shows. But I just think that this is not only going to be a difference for the audience to have it in this theater, but it’s definitely going to be an improvement for the dancers. “

Performing in a state-of-the-art facility with a dancer-friendly sprung floor may take some of the color out of the recital, however.

“We have had bats in the wings, “ says Margolis. “We have had flooring on high-school stages -- splinters like you would not believe. It has been an experience, but it has made the two of us very creative in more ways than one! “

“And so much more thankful for the Clayton Center being here, “ says Chase.

Chase had the Nutt Theatre’s dimensions and amenities in mind while choreographing what will be the centerpiece of the show, a senior lyrical number set to the song “Angels on the Moon. “

“I just knew that it would be able to look the way it looked in my mind, “ she says.

The number falls into a pattern ADU has established of creating pieces that reflect a cause. Last year, Chase choreographed a number for autism awareness that earned a special award from the Autism Society of America. This year, Margolis choreographed one that was dedicated to homeless children.

Now, Chase has choreographed a number that honors survivors. She got the idea from Vallie Collins, the mother of a student. Collins, who lives in Maryville, survived the landing of US Airways Flight 1549, the “Miracle on the Hudson, “ and introduced Chase to “Angels on the Moon. “

“The song had kind of been adopted as the theme song for the survivors of the ‘Miracle on the Hudson,’ “ says Chase. “She very selflessly said, ‘You should use this if you ever want to do something about surviving cancer, surviving ...’ -- she named everything but what she survived, the plane crash.

“When I played it for the dancers, it really got all of our wheels turning about the people that we knew in our studio family who had overcome cancer, were in remission, had been in the military, had had car wrecks, had had unexpected heart attacks -- all these circumstances where you’re faced with death unexpectedly, and you survive.

“So each dancer represents a different aspect of that, a circumstance. One girl will represent Flight 1549, which is Vallie. Another girl represents a heart attack and then another, cancer. At the end, we have a male dancer who represents the survivor in us all.

“We invited all the people who we were doing this in honor of to come and have a private viewing in an intimate setting with us. I really think this has been an incredible experience, not just for me, but also for these dancers to see how they can use their talent not just to entertain but to actually move people and touch them, and to sometimes just get the impact of situations that happen in our everyday lives. “

“Just to appreciate how precious each day is, “ adds Margolis.

“It’s a dance that says, ‘Here we are, and we should all be thankful for every moment that we’re given,’ “ says Chase.

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