High school seniors prepare to take local stage last time with ‘Sleeping Beauty’
LaGRANGE — It’s a bittersweet moment, at least for three ballet dancers who will take the stage under the Lafayette Ballet Company for the last time this weekend during “Sleeping Beauty.”
“There will be tears,” admitted high school senior Catherine Gurley as she sat with her two fellow seniors Tuesday during rehearsal at the Troup High School Fine Arts Auditorium.
“There were tears at ‘Nutcracker,’ (their last Christmas performance) and there will be tears here,” added senior Sarah Frazer.
“I cried on the way here,” admitted Holly Lord, eliciting laughter among the teens.
The three have long been part of the Lafayette Society for Performing Arts’ ballet company and dance academy — Gurley and Frazer since age 3 and Lord since fifth grade.
Dancing is “just part of my life,” Frazer said, noting the countless hours of practice and discipline ballet takes. “It’s not like a burden, though, I enjoy being here a lot. We’re very close.”
Gurley and Lord are hoping to be roommates when they attend Samford University in the fall. Gurley plans to go into the pre-medical program and on to medical school, and Lord is set go into pre-pharmacy and then the university’s pharmacy school. Frazer will attend the University of Georgia and study biology with the intent to become a zoologist.
Their time with the Lafayette Dance Academy and ballet company has shaped them “drastically,” said Lord, including impressing on her the importance of time management as she balanced dedication to dance and school. Gurley said the program has taught her how to be dedicated and work with a team, and Frazer added their roles as instructors to young dancers have made them conscious of being role models.
“It’s my job,” Frazer said of being a mentor. “You have to be mindful of what the little ones see you doing, what you pull out of your back pack, even what you’re eating.”
The seniors said their students have become like their children, and the young ones will be another aspect of the academy the teens will struggle to leave behind as they move to the next step in their lives.
“They’re all fabulous students,” said Amy Orr, artistic director of the Lafayette Ballet Company, of the seniors. They’re “very dedicated to everything they do. They will certainly be missed because they’re good examples to their younger peers.”
Dancing has been a form of stress relief, provided a place to visit friends, make longtime friends and offered a constructive past time, the teens said. Leaving will mean needing to fill some of those roles, but their friendship is set.
“We go to each other’s houses, carpool, we’ve got a text message group called ‘dancefam’ (for dance family) … it’s always going off,” said Frazer.
“We dance for stress relief and we can still text and call each other about what’s going on,” added Lord.
The teens will take the stage starting Friday for their last show with the dance academy, “Sleeping Beauty.”
Based on the familiar fairy tale, the ballet features 148 cast members split between two casts and ranging from elementary to high school age with guest performers from the Atlanta Ballet.
The performance is based on the 1890 Russian choreography by Marius Petipa with some tweaks. Orr said the performance has been passed down through different ballet companies in countries around the world.
“The dancers can go on YouTube and watch the Royal Opera and say, ‘I’m doing a variation of that,’” Orr said.
The performance, she added, will be payoff for the countless hours of practice all the students have put in over their months or years in the ballet company. And it will represent a passing of the torch from the older students to younger.
“It’s special because (the seniors) will share the stage with their students,” Orr said. “There’s nothing like seeing the little ones look up to their teacher and hoping to do that one day; to see it come to life — why the students are doing plié after plié and leap after leap, over and over. It’s so tangible to see them with the person whose nurtured them week after week.”
Performances are set for Friday to Sunday at 7 p.m. with an additional show 2 p.m. Saturday at the Troup High School Fine Arts Auditorium on Hamilton Road. Tickets may be purchased at lsparts.org. For more information, call the Lafayette Society for Performing Arts at 706-882-9909.