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Woods Lake Dancers 'Escape to the Ballet'

woods lake dancersThe Woods Lake Elementary: A Magnet Center for the Arts fourth- and fifth-grade dance companies traveled to Grand Rapids on Feb. 7 to participate in the Grand Rapids Ballet’s “Escape to the Ballet” field trip experience. 

Students visited the Meijer Royce Center for Dance to learn about the professional world of ballet. 

The students participated in a ballet class with Grand Rapids Ballet School Director Attila Mosolygo, who had the students stretching, learning introductory technique, and working on big jumps at the end of class. 

The students visited the costume shop where the costume shop manager, Ron Altman, gave them a tour of the sewing machines, cutting tables, laundry facility, and storage area. Altman showed them costumes from the ballet’s upcoming performances so students could see the design details and hear what it takes to create, fit, and take care of costumes.

In the Peter Martin Wege Theatre, students were greeted by Artistic Director James Sofranko, who provided an introduction to Act 1 of the company’s upcoming production of “Cinderella,” which was choreographed by renowned choreographer Ben Stevenson, O.B.E. Students watched the professional dancers rehearse and they met several dancers after the run-through. Guest service manager Errol Shewman encouraged students to ask questions during each part of the experience. Shewman spent time with the students before the rehearsal began and answered questions about what it takes to be part of a dance company and what it takes to put on a professional production. 

“This is an important field trip for my students and I try to schedule this trip each school year,” said Woods Lake dance teacher Debra Norton. “Woods Lake students rehearse and work toward their own performances at school and they can see the professionals going through the same process — except the professionals spend all day taking class and rehearsing. This is eye-opening for the Woods Lake dancers. They also learn about other jobs that bring a performance together. “

Grand Rapids Ballet School administrator SarahJean Bos told Norton that the Woods Lake students “always have the best questions, are enthusiastic, and are well-mannered.” 

The Woods Lake Dance Program is supported by Kalamazoo Public Schools, Education for the Arts, Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs, the Harold and Grace Upjohn Foundation, and the Dorothy U. Dalton Foundation.