Nikiski Dance Troupe members rehearse a dance called "Potluck" this week in preparation for their show this weekend and next.
Photo by Jenny Neyman
It isn't every day you can hang out at a rollicking swing dance hall, attend a boisterous church service and get a close-up look at the smaller inhabitants of the animal kingdom in just two hours.
Audiences will get that opportunity this weekend and next by attending the Nikiski High Dance Troupe's performances.
As in past shows, the group is striving for variety along with excellence and originality. The show will include 14 dances in a range of styles, including drill, hip-hop, lyrical, theatrical and swing. Guests will perform, as well, from Soldotna High School, Vergine's Dance Studio and Encore Dance Academy.
Theatrical dance has long been one of the hallmarks of Nikiski dance shows. One of this year's theatrical pieces is "Potluck," a comical, high-energy church service spoof with a podium-thumping minister, single ladies hoping to hook dates and an overly spry elderly man among the zany congregation.
On a more serious note is "Farewell" a theatrical piece Nikiski teacher Phil Morin choreographed based on a Civil War letter by Sullivan Ballou to his wife, Sarah. Ballou, a Union army volunteer, died in the first Battle of Bull Run shortly after penning the letter, where he eloquently describes his feelings of service and duty. The dance exhibits those themes.
"It's saying goodbye and going and doing duty and honor," Morin said.
Though the impetus for the dance came from a conflict nearly 150 years ago, Morin said the piece has relevance today since farewells are still a touching moment in life.
A dancer dressed as a dragonfly performs a piece that combines dance and fiber arts.
Photo by jenny Neyman
"It's fairly sentimental and melancholy," he said. "... It's kind of appropriate because it's about how hard it is to say goodbye."
With two Nikiski teachers, Troy Zimmerman and Will Schwenke, currently serving in Iraq, the piece has special meaning to the dance troupe.
"We hope that with our farewell we get to say hello again," Morin said.
Among other original pieces in the performance are a swing dance Morin choreographed and dances done by his wife, Chris Morin, including a number called "Mambo" based on the music of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.
Several guest choreographers are adding their talents to the show, as well, including Darcy Swanson and Kacky Wells. Wells' piece sets fiber arts in the form of elaborate and fanciful props and costumes to motion meant to display the often-overlooked grace of the insect world.
Live music provided by guest musicians Paul Morin, Michael Morin and Dayton Williams will enliven some dances, including Wells' piece.
Dancers put in more than 100 hours of rehearsal in February alone and the nearly 40-member cast began work in September. Commitment to the show isn't limited to just dancing. There's also the behind-the-scenes set building, costume making and fund-raising duties required to support the endeavor. To that end, students will sell raffle tickets at the shows for a variety of prizes. The drawing will be held at intermission of the last show.
Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Nikiski Middle-Senior High School and March 11 and 12 at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium at Kenai Central High School. Tickets are $8 for general admission and $6 for seniors and students.
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