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Wizard Of Oz to be performed this weekend

This weekend the LaFayette Ballet Company will carry audiences down the yellow brick road to Emerald City with its performance of The Wizard of Oz.

The ballet draws heavily on the 1939 film for music and costuming choices, but the dancers’ coordinated steps provide a fresh look at the classic story.

“I think this ballet is exactly what people that enjoy the movie will think of,” said Amy Orr, LBC artistic director. “We are using mostly the movie score. It is that familiar score, so I think even for people that haven’t been to ballets before, this should be the ballet that they come to because I think the familiarity of that movie will translate into this ballet and give people a really wonderful first or 27th experience in coming to the ballet.”

The ballet features 16 scene changes — four times that of The Nutcracker — to tell the story of Dorothy and friends’ journey from Kansas through Oz.

“It is just a little trip through Americana, and it’s not as classical (ballet),” Orr said. “It is a story ballet. Many of us are familiar with coming through our childhood watching the movie on TV. It is a very intricate story, and there is very little what we call divertissement, or diversions where you have a long frame of dancing, where there is really no forwarding of the plot.”

For the character of Dorothy, that means that she will be on stage for the entirety of the performance.

“It’s a lot more difficult and requires a lot more stamina than I thought it would,” said Anna Wyley, a senior who plays Dorothy. “It is her story, so I am always on stage.”

Orr commended the seniors in the LBC, Wyley and Nikki Knox, for their hard work. She said that they along with the other performers tell the story with their dances as well as pantomime in the show.

“This plot is so intertwined and intricate that every little scene has to tell a story,” Orr said. “The characters have to pantomime or talk about what they are going to do next or where they are going to go or who they are going to meet or what their assignment is — to get the wicked witch’s broom or to go back to the hall of the wizard or to find the witch’s castle. It is very story based versus dance based, and they dance the story the whole time.”

Despite its movie predecessor, Wyley encouraged audiences to enjoy the ballet as a story unto itself.

“All the costumes and Emerald City and everything draw inspiration from the movie, but I would say to separate it from the movie,” Wyley said. “This is its own thing.”

The Lafayette Society for Performing Arts and the Lafayette Ballet Company’s production of The Wizard of Oz will be performed at the Troup High School Fine Arts Auditorium on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. For tickets or more information, visit Lsparts.org or call (706) 882-9909.