Perry-Mansfiled Youth Festival scheduled

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— At a certain age, somewhere between small child and full-blown teenager, young people express themselves in a way that is more open, honest and unconstrained than most adults can.

For the instructors at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts Camp, that's a perfect age for the children to explore dance and theater.

"It's just great," director David Baecker said. "They are not yet sold that they shouldn't be uninhibited by the things adults are freaked out about."
Baecker is directing a theater piece that will be performed next week in the Perry-Mansfield Summer Youth Festival I. The festival includes the play "Overcoat" and three dance pieces.

The children are from 10 to 14 years old and their performances will be the culmination of four weeks of studying the arts at Perry-Mansfield.
"The kids aren't as advanced," said Caroline Brackett, modern dance choreographer for the show. "But the spirit and eagerness to learn is amazing."

Spirit and honesty is what the public will see from the children's performances next week, she said.

"It's going to be an incredible show," Brackett said.

The show starts with "Overcoat," by the Russian playwright Nikolai Gogol. The play tells the story of a man trying to buy an overcoat to protect himself from the elements and how he seeks a variety of different means to do it. Metaphorically, the plot points out problems with the Russian government bureau in the mid-1800s, and exposes other thought-provoking truths about human nature and establishment.
It's a thick assignment for the 33 young actors in the production.

"This is a serious play," Baecker said. "But it's not too much for them. They get it."

After the play are three dance performances, one in each of the major study of dance jazz, modern and ballet.

Mark Burrell choreographed the jazz dance piece called Party Life. He is using the music "The Wild Party," from a theater production of the same name done by the Manhattan Theatre Club.

"The piece has to do with a party scene and different characters emerging from a social party," Burrell said.

Burrell said he used the children to help him create the dance piece.
"I came to them and said I wanted to see what they can do. Then I formed my vision around that," Burrell said.

The talent the kids displayed, he said, "was quite amazing."

Catherine Green choreographed the ballet piece. Eight dancers will perform to "Summerdance," six sections from Albumblatter, Opus 24 by Robert Schumann.

For the modern dance piece, resident composer Jacek Sobieraj, of Canada, will write original music and burn it onto a CD at Perry-Mansfield. The music will carry the dancers through the plot of the performance, which starts with a group of girls lost in the forest.

"It's about relationships," Brackett said.

The productions run for two days at the Julie Harris Theatre at Perry-Mansfield. The first show is at 7 p.m. on July 4 and the second is 7:30 p.m. on July 5.

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