'A Musical Journey' shows

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What: "A Musical Journey" When: 7 tonight and Saturday Where: Steamboat Springs High School auditorium Cost: $12 reserved, $10 general admission, $8 students. Tickets available at the door.

There's no rest for Steamboat Springs' flourishing young ballerinas. Instead, they are getting an artistic pause -- the chance to perform something different.

"And there's not a tutu on stage," said Steamboat Ballet owner Stephanie Reese of her new production, "A Musical Journey," being performed by her students at Steamboat Springs High School tonight and Saturday night.

Reese and her fellow teachers choreographed "A Musical Journey" with anything but strict ballet in mind. This show was created as an opportunity for the hard-working ballet students to put their good technique to work in pieces that are entirely modern and new. It is a far cry from the traditional "The Nutcracker" they performed in December.

Just look at the score: Abba, Prince, Metallica, Vangelis, Jewel, the Fresh Aire series from Mannheim Steamroller and show tunes from "Hairspray." There is even a piece that incorporates sign language.

"It's a fun, upbeat show," Reese said. "You may shed a couple tears and crack a smile."

At the beginning of the year, Reese said she asked her students whether they might be interested in going down a different path for a little while. The girls were ecstatic, she said, especially after they listened to the music she had in mind.

"They're just kind of glad to do something different," Reese said.

Reese said she was looking for new inspiration, too.

"This has been a very spiritual year for me. And I've gotten to where I want to express that. This is it," Reese said of her new show.

She said it is a momentary departure from what she has done in the past. But balletomanes should not fear; the tutus will be back, she said.

Reese gives a lot of credit to her fellow choreographers, Mary Ruppert, Mimi Hill and Lisa Harner, for pulling "A Musical Journey" together -- especially Ruppert, who has choreographed a significant part of the show.

"I asked God for someone to help me. The next day, Mary called," Reese said.

The two teachers mesh seamlessly, despite their dramatic contrasts. Along with their students, Reese, a Southern debutante, will be dancing on pointe this weekend; Ruppert, a Harley-Davidson aficionado from Las Vegas, will be tapping on stage.

Ruppert and Reese have created a schoolwide production that includes more than 80 dancers. The dances incorporate students doing jazz, tap, modern, hip-hop and ballet. The rehearsals showed a lively stage that was jam-packed with able young dancers and exciting choreography.

From the palpable excitement of the young girls milling about the high school during stage rehearsals this week, it was clear that learning the show has been fun.

But there is no mistaking how much work everyone has put in. During a 15-minute rehearsal break Tuesday, one group of advanced dancers emerged from the dark theater to lounge about the well-lit cafeteria.

The dancers have spent so much time together that they finish each other's sentences, chat over one another, and still follow exactly what everyone is saying. As they tested and compared each other's sparkly eye shadows and lipsticks, the girls admitted they were tired. But they've been through this grueling performance routine before.

They all said they really like doing this show -- especially their Metallica piece. The dancers' excitement for their new show is contagious. Each one of them has something fabulous to say -- in unison.

"The whole show's not as ballet-ish. It's got funk," said dancer Justine Warner.

And the costumes are great, added Ariel Tredway.

"It's so different. It's going to keep the audience interested," piped in dancer Cora Ruppert.

"It's like dancing ballet to rock," chimed in dancer Sammi Smalley. "She's added a twist to classic ballet."

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