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Recognizing Youth Performance Dance


The formative years in an artist's life are exactly that­-formative-and thus extremely important. Building confidence and skill is crucial for the future success of aspiring artists, especially in an art form such as dance that almost always requires years of training to make it professionally. Outlets our community has, such as Eagle Performing Ensemble and Balance Dance Company, serve as the admirable springboards for their talented young dancers to launch from.

At their first-ever performance, Eagle Performing Ensemble (EPE) presented Charlotte's Web last Friday to a sold-out crowd. "Adorable" perfectly sums up this new children's ballet that was skillfully transformed from E.B. White's novel by choreographer Lisa Moon. With two contemporary works preceding Charlotte's Web by Ballet Idaho dancer Melissa Nolen and EPE instructor Kayla Oakes, the company was able to feature their individual skill and dedication outside the occasionally frantic quality children's ballets can bring to a show-as Charlotte's Web also used several elementary-age dancers from the studio.

Moon utilized these baby ballerinas well as their addition made the audience swoon. In one scene a little girl holds a sign reading "Wilbur's Nightmare" and bless her heart, shook her legs in fright the entire length of the ten-minute interlude as she likely was told to do. Equally impressive as the high quality of the production, is EPE's studio, the Eagle Performing Arts Center, opened last September and still managed to organize the event in such a limited time frame. "We feel like we're filling a niche in Eagle," Moon explained of the motivation behind the ensemble and studio, as directed by Jeff and Cathy Giese. With such a successful opening debut, communities across the state and not solely Eagle can expect a lot from EPE in the near future.

Balance Dance Company, by comparison, culminates their eighth season this weekend at their Spring Concert in a show that definitively demonstrates how incredibly far a talented youth company can go- as Balance has become the central contemporary dance company for pre-professionals in the Treasure Valley.

Artistic Director Leah Clark continues to draw innovative choreographers while creating original pieces like Fourteen Chairs and a Door herself. Amy O'Brian's new work Top of the Hill, set to three cuts from Tom Waits new album Real Gone, expertly captures the essence of Waits funky style. "The music was really inspiring to me and the girls were great to work with because they were able to fulfill my vision," O'Brian said. Balance company members are unique in that sense as they could fulfill any choreographer's vision. The girls have a synergy and obvious dedication that works well together as they tackle a "great variety of dances," as dancer Becca Ballenger aptly described the upcoming show.

The potential of Eagle Performing Ensemble that is mirrored in the accomplishment already achieved by Balance Dance Company, fuels the excitement apparent in Ada County's young dance world. The opportunities generated by both companies are priceless for the talented dancers involved, as they all could continue on into the professional sphere. In a nutshell, I'm just really frickin' proud of all these ladies and the numerous people in play to give them the chance they deserve.

See for yourself at Balance's Spring Concert this Thursday through Saturday (check 8 days out listings for times and location) and keep an eye trained on the Eagle Performing Ensemble.­

-by Jennifer Parsons