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KTB ‘Evening of Dance’ to showcase many styles
Grace Jackson leans with the help of the rest of the Senior Company as part of a dance as Zachary Leighton, assistant artistic director of the Ketchikan Theatre Ballet, watches on Tuesday. The dancers are practicing for “An Evening of Dance” performance at Ketchikan High School on Thursday and Friday. Photo by Charlie Starr

Daily News Staff Writer

There will be something for everyone at Ketchikan Theatre Ballet’s show, “An Evening of Dance,” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday  in the Ketchikan High School auditorium.

The event will give more than 20 dancers the opportunity to show off their ballet, tap, jazz, modern and contemporary dance skills in 11 acts total — plus a video  — with a funky jazz piece, a classical ballet solo, an “angular” trio of dancers, a “flowy” quartet and a tap solo with live music.

“There’s almost this transfer of energy from piece to piece that’s really interesting, where it’s very dynamic,” explained KTB Assistant Artistic Director Zachary Leighton. “The dynamic shift from piece to piece is really interesting — the juxtaposition between each of the pieces.”

The event is KTB’s annual performance before the spring gala. In the past, it’s been called “Festival of the North,” and “An Evening of Dance,” as well.

Although the show has no overall theme, Leighton has noticed a few correlations between the piece he choreographed, what other KTB instructors have choreographed and what was crafted by guest choreographer Kevin Jenkins.

“There’s a lot of opposing forces,” Leighton said. “If I had to give a name, a title to the show, that’s what I would call it.”

He said without any instructors talking about it, the overarching theme of opposing forces developed organically. They didn’t confer as a staff — but there’s almost a through line throughout the entire show, even with Jenkins coming in from San Diego.

Jenkins worked with the full senior company for the show, as well as the full junior company, and he did some workshops with the faculty. Girls from the Tap 5, Jazz 5 and Jazz 6 classes will also be in the show.

“There’s things that (Jenkins) put in his piece that are in all of our pieces,” Leighton added. “He didn’t see any of our work and we had never seen any of his work before we set our stuff. It ended up working out and fitting in like puzzle pieces.”

Jenkins choreographed a part in his piece where all of the dancers in one section all connect arms and pull on each other. In the junior company piece that Leighton choreographed, the girls do that, as well.

“Nothing major,” Leighton noted. “It won’t look like they're choreographed by the same person — but it definitely looks like it’s part of one whole.”

Although there is that likeness among the performances, the costumes that the girls will be wearing vary greatly. There’s regular dance attire, then there are colorful costumes, pastel costumes, and a robot and a Batman costume in one piece.

Two girls who will soon be bringing the costumes and music to life are Chasina Kline and Claire Rhein. Both of them are doing a classical ballet solo in the show, with Kline dancing to a variation of “The Dying Swan, which is “flowy” and “all about the arms and emotions,” according to Leighton.

The music is a sad, minor key piece that Kline’s instructors, like Jessica Berto, have noticed that she blossoms with. Berto said Kline grew a lot in her ability to express herself over time.

“Chasina’s confidence in her own ability as an artist has grown since we first walked into the studio and she was very timid with her movement in the beginning,” Berto said. “A lot of ‘The Dying Swan’ is kind of improvisational.

“I gave her the layout,” Berto continued, “and she had to really like fill in what she wanted to do with her arms, and kind of the character and how she wanted to fill that and portray that with her upper body movements.”

Kline has been dancing since she was about 4 years old — about as early as they’d let her sign up, according to Kline. It’s her 14th season at KTB, and she described this event as the “everything show” because they don’t focus on just one style of dance.

She’ll be performing in a temporary ballet piece choreographed by Jenkins, a modern piece that Leighton choreographed, a jazz trio, and she will have a ballet solo at “An Evening of Dance.”

“I think the most difficult part about this show is just the sheer amount of dancing that we always do,” Kline said. “The show is limited to the two highest levels of dance and then the highest levels of tap and jazz.

“There aren’t many dancers to actually do all those pieces,” she continued, “and a lot of the kids overlap. ... You’ll be learning upwards of five (or) six dances and then performing them back-to-back as fast as you can during a show.”

Rhein will be performing a solo to a variation of  “Kitri Act 3” from “Don Quixote.” Leighton described her dance as flirty because she will be using a hand fan.

“(Rhein is) like a technician, is what we call it,” Leighton said. “She’s very technical — like, ‘Where is my arm here, where does my leg go.’ Which is good, but then it’s pushing her because she still has to bring her acting, and this flirtatious persona to the table. That’s not her forte.

“It’s good for both of them to have this push in the direction that’s not their strength,” he later added.

Rhein, who has been a dancer since she was 12-years-old, will also be several pieces at the show: Her solo, the senior company piece, a quartet and the senior company piece choreographed by Jenkins — which she said was difficult, because they spent five days dancing nonstop all day.

She said if the piece turns out well, it’s going to be “really special.” Rhein encouraged members of the community to see the show.

“I think KTB is an important part of our community and I think it’s good for people to come support our community,” she said. “... I think it’s important for people to see the hard work that we do, just like the basketball players go in practice every day, and they play games that people come to.”

According to Leighton, members of the Ketchikan community should also come to the event because Jenkins’ piece in the show is a “world premiere.” He said Jenkins set the piece on KTB dancers, “that movement and sequence is for them, it’s set on them, by him,” for KTB.

Aside from that — Leighton said there are many other reasons to see the show. He said performances like “The Nutcracker” are standard and predictable shows that you know what you’re going to get before you buy the ticket — but this show is not like that.

“You’re really getting a lot of bang for your buck for this show,” Leighton said, “because you get to see the diversity of dance and what Ketchikan Theatre Ballet can bring to the table.”