Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Footlight Dancers Aspire to Convey Hope
Many of the dancers have taken dance lessons since they were 4 or 5 years old.
Wednesday, January 23, 2019



As Hilarie Neely surveyed the world landscape this past year, she decided the world was most in need of hope.

And hope is what she and her fellow teachers tried to convey as they choreographed this year’s annual school tour performances.

Hop Porter Park makes a good place to practice barre exercises!

The performances, themed “HOPE—Family & Community”—will perform eight performances in the schools beginning today and running through Feb. 11.

They are free and open to the public.

“Hope sprang from last year’s theme, which was Diversity,” said Neely, the director of Footlight Dance Centre. “I spent the year thinking about what could follow. And, with our country and the world in a state of turmoil between the natural disasters and political clashes and cultural misunderstandings, I decided we needed to send a good message to students about the importance of hope in community and family.”

Neely said she knew she’d made the right decision when she spotted an article in National Geographic Magazine about how researchers are discovering that the brain has more capacity for humans to invent new ways to deal with today’s challenges than they had thought.

“It talks about our resilient nature due to our ability to trust. What does it mean? And who do you trust? We have a couple dances where dancers have to trust their fellow dancer. If they didn’t have trust, they wouldn’t be able to perform their lifts.”

The students will express hope through a variety of dance forms: ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop and tap.

The dances will be set against the backdrop of fabric art created by professional batik artist Lisa Kattenbraker, whom Neely met at last summer’s Sun Valley Arts and Crafts Festival.

Kattenbraker, who lives in Olympia, Wash., creates textile works that feature black stick figures at work in the kitchen, making music and holding hands as they look up at the night sky.

They invoke family, the cycle of life and sharing together past and present “to ensure our future remains together as one human family,” said Kattenbraker, who said viewers tend to see a reflection of themselves in her work.

“People ask why my figures have no faces. With each new piece I am trying to work towards creating a scene that explores ideas and stories through the pattern and color and composition. The pieces are really just the beginning of the story—the first sentence or paragraph maybe. The people in the scenes are there to continue the story with the viewer. That faceless face reflects anyone who looks at it, pulling the viewer in to participate in the story,” she said.

The 15 dancers involved in the tour are Bryn Downey, Isabella Cronin, Abbie Heaphy, Chloe Henderson, Emelia Morgan, Sophia Schoen, Taylor Telford and Laine Whittier. They rehearse weekends for five weeks prior to the performances, taking them to a pre-professional level. The tour allows them to assume the life of a touring professional while keeping up their class load at school.

“The shows are our contribution to the valley about the importance of the voice of the arts in our cultural fabric, allowing students to be exposed to and discover all the arts, including dance as an understanding of our humanity,” said Neely.  “Hopefully, we can wake up the senses of the kids who see us and help them find out more about their humanity and how they fit in the world and in their communities.

“And I hope they see positivity in our dance. I hope we can communicate the emotions the dancers are carrying—our passion for life and the beauty of moving bodies.”


Wednesday, Jan. 23—10:15 a.m. Wood River High School Performing Arts Theater for Wood River High School

Wednesday, Jan. 30-9:30 a.m. Wood River High School Performing Arts Theater for Sage School/Silver Creek and Syringa Mountain School

Thursday, Jan 31—10:15 a.m. at Sun Valley Community School

Friday, Feb. 1—8:45 a.m. at Hemingway STEAM School

Tuesday, Feb. 5—1 p.m. at Alturas School

Thursday, Feb. 7—1:20 p.m. at Bellevue Elementary

Friday, Feb.8—1:30 p.m. at Hailey Elementary

Monday, Feb. 11—9:30 a.m. at Carey School.

The public is invited to any of the performances, as long as they call the school. The Jan. 30 performance at the Wood River High School Theater has plenty of room.


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