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Footlight Dance Salutes the Winter Olympics
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Tuesday, January 25, 2022
 

STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

PHOTOS BY THOMAS SMILEY MT. PHOTO

Dancers on skis. Tap dancers with hockey sticks.

They’re part of Footlight Dance Company’s “Olympic Dances” school enrichment tour.

The company’s 15 dancers are performing a salute to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, which start Feb. 4 in Beijing. And they will provide a free 45-minute performance for the community at 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 27, at the Wood River Performing Arts Theater on the Community Campus in Hailey.

“The tap dancers will be dressed in Sun Valley Suns hockey jerseys, playing a hockey game on stage. Hip hop dancers will represent snowboarding because the hip hop culture and snowboarding kind of go together. Ballet goes hand in hand with ice skating because of the fluid motion of both,” said Hilarie Neely, Footlight Dance Company founder.

“And modern dancers will be wearing skis in what is like the coolest dance ever as they get into an ultra-focused demeanor to get down the slopes without crashing, then end with a feel of accomplishment. I know the audience will be amazed at the feel and the look.”

In fact, the show may be Footlight Dance's funnest show ever, what with the mesmerizing alpine ski piece done to Aretha's "Respect," a hockey piece that includes a referee and a ruckus and even a Parade of Flags done to the Olympic Fanfare.

Footlight Dance presented a similar show in 2007, but choreographers added a few new pieces to this show.

“With the Summer and Winter Olympics being held the same year, we thought it was the perfect time to bring it back,” said Neely. “The whole point is about unity, which the Olympics try to do bring people together as one. We’re celebrating the accomplishments of the athletes and we’re celebrating our dancers because they train just like athletes.”

Some of the dancers will wear original jackets local Olympians wore in the 1980s and ‘90s. Audience will also learn historical trivia about the development of the winter games.

The dancers represent Wood River High School and the Sun Valley Community School. Seniors Dakota Barth, Malia Foley, Lena Gardner, Adri Meyer, Keyle Potts and Abigail Verst are participating in their final year of performances.

This is the first time Footlight Dance Company members have appeared on stage before a live audience in the two years since the pandemic began sweeping through the Wood River Valley.

It has not been smooth sailing, however. Neely and her instructors started working on the show in early fall knowing they might have some interruptions due to COVID-19. And several dancers had to take time off when they became ill or had to quarantine because others near to them had contracted COVID-19.

“We had a fairly devastating couple weeks this past month due to Omicron. But everyone is healthy again. And we’re following protocols the school district set up,” said Neely.

The students will take the show on tour to Alturas Elementary, Hemingway STEAM School, Carey School, Hailey Elementary and Wood River High School. Students from Sun Valley Community School, Sage School and Syringa Mountain School will be bussed to the WRHS theater to view how the arts provide a forum to discuss our creative voices.

Neely said her dancers train as athletes, taking five to six technique classes a week, along with Pilates Conditioning. They reach a pre-professional performance level with six weeks of rehearsals.

“Winter athletes here work so hard. And the dancers work just as hard,” she said. “I think that, despite everything, the spirit of Olympics is still alive. And, since winter sports are such a part of this community, I hope people will be excited to see how we’ve interpreted this.”


 

 

 

 


 

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