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By ALAINA BARTEL
Daily News Staff Writer
On Tuesday afternoon during a dress rehearsal for Ketchikan Theatre Ballet’s Spring Gala, young girls took to the stage to dance to Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me.”
It turned out a bit different, though, for the first go-around. They might as well have been dancing to another of Sinatra’s songs — “Dancing in the Dark,” as the lights didn’t turn on in time.
For a few minutes the audience could see nothing, but they could hear several tiny tap shoes hitting the Ketchikan High School auditorium stage.
About 130 dancers from KTB will be performing for its annual Spring Gala, which is set to take place at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday in the Kayhi auditorium. Performances began on Friday evening.
Zachary Leighton, assistant artistic director for the ballet organization, said there will be 30 pieces total including, four solo performances by the graduating senior dancers. He added the music will range from electronic to jazz, classical and pop music.
The seniors include Chasina Klein, Grace Jackson, Sarah Kuharich and Meagan Jorgensen. The dancers will perform their solo pieces interspersed during the matinee show and at the end of the evening shows, according to Leighton.
“It’s a nice send off for all the kids, especially the seniors,” Leighton said.
Jackson’s solo is a contemporary pointe piece choreographed by Leighton. She will be dancing to a string quartet version of one of her favorite Van Morrison songs, “Into the Mystic.” Jackson said the dance will be one last challenge for her.
She added the piece is mostly about moving on into the future — which she will soon be doing.
Jackson will be attending the University of Idaho in the fall as a dance major, and she’s excited to take different classes that aren’t offered in Ketchikan. She’s also looking forward to learn more about choreographing.
When she has finished college, Jackson said she would like try dancing professionally, but she also hopes to return to KTB at some point. Jackson said she has fallen in love with teaching, as she has been assistant teaching for the past few years.
“I’m definitely going to miss KTB,” Jackson wrote. “It’s been my home for years and I’ll miss dancing with my best friends every day after school and on weekends.”
The overall theme for the show, their final recital of the year, is “Alaska.” In the past, themes have included oceans, colors, movies and others — always setting a broad range for the choreographers to be creative with.
“It’ll be nice to sit there and kind of see your home represented in dance form,” Leighton said. “I think it’ll be fun for people to see.”
Alaska as a theme will include a multitude of things, including Alaska state ferries, Rainbow Falls, eagles, ravens, rain, salmon, fisherwoman and jellyfish. As part of her ballet class, Bella Stockhausen will be a jade stone. For her jazz class, she will be a jellyfish.
Stockhausen, 13, has been dancing since she was 4 years old. Although a longtime dancer, Stockhausen feels that this year played an important role in advancing her skills.
“This dance year is more like contemporary in my dancing,” Stockhausen said. “I feel like I got a lot better this year.”
She said the show will be one worth watching.
“Dancers work all the time, really hard,” Stockhausen said at the dress rehearsal on Tuesday. “We should be appreciated.”
She isn’t the only one who has grown over the past year. It was Leighton’s first year as assistant artistic director, and he said he has realized quite a few things.
In the past, he has danced at ballet schools similar to KTB, and he has danced professionally. In his new position, he’s learned that there is so much that happens not at the studio or the theater.
“You always see people running around behind the scenes, but you never really know what exactly they’re doing,” Leighton said. “You only see them in class and at the theater.”
Behind the scenes responsibilities include coordinating with a myriad of people, such as parent volunteers. Leighton believes seeing the show come together with all of the moving parts has been his biggest takeaway.
He said the dancers will bring their joy of dance to the audience and hopefully, they will let the audience experience that through them. After all, he said, the dancers have grown so much throughout the season — and even from their last performance, “The Nutcracker.”
“I’m proud of all of them, even the ones that I don’t teach,” Leighton said. “It’s been a really good year. We’ve developed a really strong comradery in the staff, and it really shows through all of our dancers.”