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Peter Pan Brings Pirates, a Croc and Captain Hook to the Stage
Expect pirates and a smiley crocodile danced by Zoey Kolb in next weekend’s presentations of “Peter Pan.”
Friday, April 26, 2024



J.M. Barrie’s story of a mischievous little boy who refuses to grow up will take to the stage next weekend as Footlight Dance Centre presents “Peter Pan.”

Dancers won’t fly through the air, but they will hip hop, tap dance, pirouette and do some jazz and modern dance moves as they reprise the classic tale written in 1904.

Wendy, played by Audrey Hernandez, reads to her little sister as Peter Pan, played by Clara Gvozdas, flies by in the background.

The performances will start at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 5, at the Wood River High School Performing Arts Theatre at Hailey’s Community Campus.

This is the third time footlight Dance Centre has presented “Peter Pan.” It presented it for the first time in 1995 and did an encore performance in 2009. Director Hilarie Neely decided it was the perfect show to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the dance center, founded in 1984.

“We last presented it on our 25th anniversary, and now we’re celebrating another milestone,” It’s such a beautiful story of growing up and trying to retain a sense of awe and adventure and wonder, while at the same time recognizing there is a beauty to the process. For me, that’s kind of what has been the process of being an artist in the valley—all these years has been a lovely adventure,” she said.

The Footlight Dance Centre production opens with Wendy reading a story about Peter Pan to her sisters. She falls asleep and dreams it actually happens as she goes on a glorious adventure back to Neverland where she visits the Mermaid Lagoon. There, Captain Hook is lurking around, hoping to capture Peter Pan, and he decides he can take Wendy captive, keeping her and everyone else in Neverland forever. Enter the Lost Boys, who are always battling Captain Hook.

Audrey Hernandez, who plays Wendy, can relate to the debate over striving for eternal childhood and retaining a sense of wonder, hope and adventure and moving on to grown-up life since she is graduating from Wood River High School this spring.

“And I’ll leave the rest to the audience to find out what happens,” said Neely.

Two hundred youth ranging from age 5 to high school seniors will dance the story.

Clara Gvozdas will dance the part of Peter Pan. Audrey Hernandez, who as a senior at Wood River High School understands what it means to leave childhood behind and move onto her grown-up life, will dance the role of Wendy.

Other leads include Leila Brickley as Tinker Bell, Grace Rushton as Captain Hook, Sarah Leidecker as Mr. Smee, Zoey Kolb as the Crocodile, Romina Zavala as Princess Forest Lily and Ellis Mallett & Cora Ward as  the Darling family children.

The tale of “Peter Pan” encompasses ballet, hip hop and other dance forms.

Some of those who danced in the 1995 show are still part of the Footlight Dance Centre family. Leah Taylor, who played Wendy that year, is now a dance instructor with Footlight Dance. Mariah Kashino, now Mariah Daley, played Tinkerbell in 1995; her daughter will dance in this year’s “Peter Pan.” And Crystal Ward, now Crystal Ward Simons, played Mr. Smee in the 1995 production; her daughter will dance in “Peter Pan” this year.

“It shows the community involvement and the sense of family that the dance community has here in the Wood River Valley,” said Neely.

“The dancers are so excited to present this fun and entertaining evening,” Neely added. “Peter Pan, Wendy, Tinker Bell, Captain Hook, Mr. Smee and the Crocodile are brilliant in their roles. All the dancers are doing an amazing job, and the younger dancers are mesmerized as they see the different parts coming alive.”

Instructors who have helped choreograph the show are Gabi Bryant, Robyn Fox, Shellrae Garnes, Hayley Henderson, Mackenzie King, Melodie Taylor-Mauldin, Bronwyn McGary, Hilarie Neely, Leah Taylor, Kassidy Thompson and Anne Winton. Guest choreographer, Kioa Delos Reyes set the Advanced Hip Hop piece for the show.

The performance promises to be a colorful one, both in costume and dance.

Tickets are $10, available at Iconoclast Books in Hailey, Independent Goods in Ketchum and Hank & Sylvie’s in Hailey and Ketchum.


Footlight Dance will host another anniversary celebration performance in July with professional alum who have danced with the program as students or who have collaborated with Footlight Dance over the years.

The performance, “Many Voices,” will feature Dance Tapestry workshop students, including dancers from Ballet Idaho, Idaho Dance Theatre and Project Flux on Saturday, July 27.

Footlight Dance’s main studio is located in the Community Campus. Satellite studios are at the Grange Hall in Hailey and Studio Move & the YMCA in Ketchum.

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