Youth ballet performs 'Ferngully'

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2001

Fairies do ballet and bats get wacky at tonight's performance by the students of Janice D. Holst's 17th Annual Summer Dance Academy.

"It's nice, it's clean, it's colorful, it's rehearsed," Holst said. "I think it's just made for everybody."

The show will take place at 6 tonight at the Elks Lodge. Twenty girls and boys, ages 4 to 17, have spent the last month painting scenery, making costumes, writing the script and choreographing dances.

"The kids have put it together," Holst said. "They figured out the story. If anybody didn't have a good part and they wanted to be a star, we just wrote in more lines. Some of them are real razzle-dazzle characters."

Previous final performances by the academy have revisited classics like "The Wizard of Oz" and "Pinnochio." This year, the story is based loosely on the plot of the 1992 animated movie, "Ferngully: The Last Rainforest."

In that film, fairies struggle to save their rainforest home from the evil forces of pollution, represented by a logging team and a villainous black creature named Hexxus. Hexxus has been contained in a tree for centuries, but he is released by loggers and begins to wreak havoc on the forest. A number of heroic fairies - including Amanda Endicott's Magi and Aszli Skrzynski's Chrysta - must join with Zak, a human played by Mychal Hutcherson, to save the forest. They're aided by several bats, who are slightly worse for wear after being experimented on by scientists.

Much of the story is told by dance, Holst said, and students play multiple parts.

"They have to change their personalities from being silly, goofy, rapping little bats to being beautiful fairies," Holst said. Other numbers range from tap-dancing frogs to a hip-hop routine performed by the fairies and Zak.

Difficulties did crop up in putting the show together. Holst had to push the start of the academy back while she visited a sick relative, and several regular attendees were unable to participate. Later, a rainy ride in the Fourth of July parade left the carefully painted sets unusable.

"The paint ran off and all the cardboard collapsed," Holst said. "We ended up just putting it in the dump and having to start all over again."

Students stayed late to finish new sets and create their costumes, which integrate face painting, hair ribbons and, in the case of Jenny Krauss, who plays Hexxus, sunglasses.

"She (wears) a black slithery cape and then she hides her scary makeup with glasses," Holst said. "She becomes Sunshine, the special fairy that hangs out with the sun."

Tickets to "Ferngully" are $5 at the door. Children under 5 are free.

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