Young Perry-Mansfield campers share their talent

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— Students at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp are spreading their wings on stage at the Julie Harris Theatre during the next two evenings.

Taking the adage quite literally are the young swans who will dance in Christina Paoulucci's excerpt from "Swan Lake."

Along with classic ballet, Youth Festival II features an original theatrical performance and a dance concert with modern and jazz choreography.

Paoulucci has been teaching ballet this summer for her second season at Perry-Mansfield. She is a veteran of the Boston Ballet School, a graduate of The Juilliard School and former principal dancer with New York Theater Ballet.

From her classic ballet repertoire, Paoulucci has choreographed a five-minute excerpt of the second act of "Swan Lake" for her students. She said she chose "Swan Lake" because it is generally one of the first ballets that young girls learn and it challenges them to stand straight and dance in a line.

In place of the traditional "four signets," the ballet students will be dancing the "seven little swans." The girls are wearing classic "Swan Lake" tutus and feathered headpieces and are powder-dusting their arms.

"Anyone who knows 'Swan Lake' will recognize it in my piece," Paoulucci said.

Modern dance teacher Ashley Williams, a 13-year Perry-Mansfield camper who danced with the No Name dance company and Boulder Ballet, has choreographed a "fun and eclectic" piece for six students.

The small cast gave her an opportunity for a lot of one-on-one instruction and resulted in an intense modern dance experience, she said. The modern piece features a variety of music types, athletic movements and a backdrop of masks to set the stage.

Dance instructor Bryan Steele danced with Prometheus Dance for 13 years and taught at the Boston Ballet and Walnut Hill summer dance programs, each of which has presented his choreography. For Youth Festival II, he presents a jazz dance comedy for his junior dancers. Steele's choreography is a spoof on being sick in bed, complete with thermometers, Pepto Bismol and a range of accompanying sickly behavior.

Drama teacher Elizabeth London, who teaches Shakespeare for American Globe Theatre when she's not at Perry-Mansfield, has created and directed an original play for 47 young actors. Her play is a melding of music, movement and text that incorporates excerpts from plays, poems and books with song. London and her students also worked with a composer to create an original song for this performance,

Young students have been learning these performance pieces since they arrived at the camp four weeks ago. The students' roles were cast the day after they arrived in Strawberry Park. Since then, each student has experienced a demanding schedule of classes and rehearsals under the nurturing influence of professional actors and dancers who are spending their summer teaching at Perry-Mansfield.

Tonight and Friday night's shows are the grand finale for Perry-Mansfield's second summer session of young, aspiring performance artists. Friday night's show is sold out, but there are limited tickets available for tonight's "Youth Festival II" performance.

-- To reach Jennie Lay, call 871-4210

or e-mail jlay@steamboatpilot.com\

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