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San Juan theater looks to wow crowds one last time before closing doors
There’s a look of fatigue setting in on the lean teenager’s face. She takes a deep breath and moves to the same place on the dance floor and resets her position for yet another try.
Is she “glowing”? No. It’s sweat on her forehead. This is work. It’s 11:10 p.m. on a Thursday night.
That’s the level of commitment local dancers are showing as they prepare for the first Spring Showcase at the Benefit Players Theater Friday.
Benefit Players Theater is closing its doors Saturday (its venue, the former Pig War Museum, is being sold), but not before wowing the arts community with a home-grown, heartfelt, ultra-
expressive performance featuring local dancers — lots of them — from beginning to end.
This all-new show was thought up by dance teachers Melissa Mortensen and Elizabeth Clark, who share a passion for dance, want to see it flourish on the island and want to make this show accessible to a new group of islanders.
More than 29 dancers from all walks of life, all styles of dance will perform at the one-night-only event. Different groups working on different pieces from different styles will be there: hip hop, ballet, Latin, jazz, modern, ballroom — all will be performed. On top of all that, two local dance groups will perform Scottish and Mexican folk dances.
And there will be children. Lots of children, dancing. What — 15, 16? “I think the number is more like 25,” Mortenson said. There will be so many dancers performing they couldn’t all fit back stage at Benefit Players Theater.
“Enough that we had to rent a mobile home,” Clark said.
Mortenson said, “This is a new spring-summer show that we came up with. We started it this year. It’s exclusively people who teach or dance at Dance Workshop II, or locally. It’s all local folks, no musical acts. It’s all dance. We’d like to make it an annual event: it gives the kids something to work for.”
This first annual Spring Showcase has another beneficial purpose: “It’s a benefit for Dance Workshop II’s ‘Dancer’s Fund,’ which is administered by the (San Juan) Community Theatre and Benefit Players’ Performing Arts Society,” Mortenson said.
The Dancer’s Fund is a fund that supports children in their dance-performance interests.
Clark and Mortenson have been working non-stop these past few weeks, late into the night to prepare for the event. There are 18 different dance pieces, choreographed by local choreographers Lisa Duke, Anthony Manuel, Linda Downes as well as Clark and Mortenson, who will be dancing in the event as well.
“We’ve got kids, we’ve got adults, we’ve got ballroom. We’re really trying to have a big variety,” Mortenson said.
Bill Paterson and his Scottish Country Dancers will add some highland flair to the event. Ballet Folklorico Sol Azteca will be on hand to really spice things up, showcasing traditional folk dance in the colorful Jalisco style.
Spring Showcase will be a full length show and is scheduled to run an hour and a half in two acts, with an intermission in between. Considering the sheer number of dancers participating, and 18 different acts, plan for it to run long, especially since it’s a one-night-only show.
Admission to the performance is by donation only and event organizers will split the proceeds with Benefit Players Theater.