A variety of themes and emotions will tangle together during this year's annual “Evening of Dance” performance.
Hosted and performed by Ketchikan Theatre Ballet, the program happens every February. This year, the event will kick off on Thursday at Ketchikan High School, with a second performance on Friday.
The show will feature a total of 13 dance pieces performed by the advanced class dancers who range in age from 12- to 18-years-old, according to KTB Executive Director Elizabeth Schultz.
“It's not too many dancers, probably close to 30,” Schultz estimated during an interview with the Daily News. “They're in a whole bunch of pieces, so it's put together more like what we would call 'concert dance,' so it's more like a professional show. It's just our most advanced dancers in tap, jazz and our ballet levels.”
Schultz said that this year's show will include a broad range of dances and concepts – affectionately calling the annual performance KTB's “cream of the crop.”
“The fun thing — this is kind of cheesy — the thing that's the same is the change … Evening of Dance, the instructors get to do whatever they want to,” Schultz explained. “So you can count on different music, different costumes, different concepts being played with. I think it's usually our favorite show to put on because we have so much freedom to do kind of artistically whatever we want.”
While Schultz and KTB instructors Kim Stone, Rachel Jacobucci and Jess Berto all helped teach the choreography for the show, many of the dance numbers that will be performed were taught to the dancers during a series of workshops last summer.
Every year, KTB arranges for professional dancers from around the country to visit Ketchikan and teach new dance pieces to the students.
“It's kind of fun because it's usually a different style than what they're used to here, just a different kind of flavor, something different than what anyone has seen in Ketchikan before,” Schultz explained.
The KTB dancers will perform choreography taught to them by Jesse Campbell of New York, Francesca Lee of the Los Angeles area and Brandi Kelley of Oklahoma City.
During the most recent series of workshops, the dancers had the chance to choreograph a piece alongside the guest instructors.
“The piece is about change and growth, and it's been really fun to watch the dancers put themselves into the piece,” Schultz said about the collaboration.
She said that the dance highlights the emotional changes and morphing relationships that the dancers might be going through as they age and graduate high school.
“All these things that are really pertinent in their lives right now come through in the dance, but in a really positive and optimistic way, so it's kind of more about growth,” Schultz added.
In addition to ballet, Evening of Dance will include modern dance numbers.
Schultz explained that ballet and modern dance were different styles — ballet is can sometimes be more formal, while modern dance is often looser, leading Schultz to describe modern dance as “taking down what ballet was doing.”
“It's usually bare feet and it involves a lot more movement of the spine and upper body, and the themes are usually not story ballet,” Schultz explained. “So they take on kind of themes that may be more practical or applicable to what the dancers are going through currently.”
Schultz also revealed that there will be a 1950s theme dance. To choreograph the dance, the performers recruited male friends from Ketchikan High School to be their partners for the show.
“There's lifts and it's really fun music,” Schultz said.
Additionally, one piece will feature dancers wearing costumes with lights as part of a performance Schultz referred to as being centered around the theme of “bioluminescence.”
There also will be a performance of the opening from the musical “42nd Street,” which Schultz said is “a blast to watch and so much fun.”
Fun, positive and lively are terms that Schultz used to describe the show, which this year focuses on variety and emotion.
Schultz said that she believes that broad range of performances is what makes Evening of Dance unique.
“I think the variety makes it really good for an audience, too,” Schultz said. “Because say you're not a big ballet fan. There's two ballet pieces and there's tap and there's jazz and all these other things to choose from. It's kind of like a smorgasbord of different styles.”
Creating a show with variety comes with challenges.
“There's a lot of pieces, there's fast costume changes, you have to flip from one style to another, and it's really remarkable, kind of the professionalism you'll see with these young dancers,” Schultz said.
Schultz also said that preparing for the dance after the excitement of KTB's annual performance of “The Nutcracker” can be tough.
“To get a whole evening's length of dance ready in a month and a half … it's quick,” Schultz said. “So just staying on top of getting everything done (is hard).”
Schultz contrasted “The Nutcracker” and Evening of Dance in many ways.
The biggest difference highlighted by Schultz was that there were no roles or requirements for dancers in the Evening of Dance show, whereas during the holiday performance, dancers were pieces in the story. The story and dancers' role in “The Nutcracker” do not change throughout the years.
In Evening of Dance, the performers are “not just bodies doing movement,” she said.
Evening of Dance requires the dancers to add their own flair to their performances, Schultz said.
She also believes that allowing the dancers to create emotional performances helps not only the show, but themselves, as well.
“And I think this show in particular gives them the opportunity to be more than just kind of fulfilling a duty or just a body in space,” she said. “They have to commit to something and reveal a part of themselves and be vulnerable, all these things that make art so wonderful and empowering.”
Devyn Sader, Bella Roberts, Mica Ronquillo and Janesa Caguiat are four of the upper-level KTB dancers who will perform during next week's event.
Each girl has performed in at least three Evening of Dance shows before. For seniors Sader and Roberts, this year will be their last performance before graduating from Ketchikan High School.
Like Schultz, Sader said that she enjoys the annual Evening of Dance performance because there is no theme.
“I'm most excited for the '50s partner dance that we're doing, because we don't typically do a lot of crazy partnering … this, they're flipping us over their backs (and) throwing us around and stuff,” Sader said during an interview with the Daily News before a recent rehearsal.
Roberts helped choreograph a duet dance that she will perform during the event.
“I'd have to say I like the creativity of this performance, especially for all the choreographers in it — including myself — being able to not have a theme, a constraint, on what you're doing,” Roberts said.
Ronquillo is excited for the chance to bring emotion to the dances.
“I'm in a dance and it's about OCD, and it's really fun because I've never really done anything emotional,” Ronquillo said.
Caguiat shared Ronquillo's excitement.
“I like how some of the dancers have a lot of emotions, and that others are like more fun, and have a lot of excitement,” Caguiat said.
Evening of Dance will open at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in the Ketchikan High School auditorium. A Mardi Gras-inspired dinner will be served for $15 before the show. A second performance will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Tickets for both shows are $15.