Arts and Entertainment

Everybody dances in Dance Arts Theatre

Chelsie Thompson, a sophomore at Central Kitsap High School, performs with the Dance Arts Theatre in Silverdale. The company performs “Snow White and the Seven Woodsmen” at 7:30 p.m. March 28 and 2:30 p.m. March 29 at the Bremerton High Performing Arts Center.  - Staff Photo/Celeste Cornish
Chelsie Thompson, a sophomore at Central Kitsap High School, performs with the Dance Arts Theatre in Silverdale. The company performs “Snow White and the Seven Woodsmen” at 7:30 p.m. March 28 and 2:30 p.m. March 29 at the Bremerton High Performing Arts Center.
— image credit: Staff Photo/Celeste Cornish

Dance Arts Theatre, the nonprofit performance wing of Irene's School of Dance in Bremerton, presents "Snow White" this weekend.

Irene Miller speaks softly and carries a pair of ballet slippers.

Her soft voice carries throughout her brightly lit dance studio, as a legion of dance students spend their Saturday afternoon gliding and pirouetting through a rehearsal for “Snow White.”

A production of Dance Arts Theatre of Silverdale — which equates to one-half of Miller’s devotion to dance and her students — this not the Disney-esque version of “Snow White and the Seven Woodsmen” legions of children grew up on. Gone are the dwarfs; replaced by the woodsmen. But the ending is “happily ever after,” Miller promises.

The dance showcases the older dancers in the troupe — those who take dance seriously enough to sacrifice a Saturday afternoon for their craft. They are the essence of Miller’s motivation that started the nonprofit born of Irene’s School of Dance in Silverdale.

“I started Dance Arts Theatre (DAT) to give the older, more dedicated students more opportunity to perform,” she said.

DAT allows Irene’s School of Dance students to refine their dance skills, while at the same time requiring a dedication above and beyond that of the average student of dance.

In addition to having to attend at least two ballet classes a week, as solid ballet skills form the base for other forms of dance, DAT also perform in the November rendition of “The Nutcracker,” and a spring recital.

“Since most of the dancers are students here, it’s easy to work with them because they know what’s expected,” Miller said.

Miller is upfront about what is required of the 47 dancers ranging in ages from 10-21 who are students of DAT. Junior members rehearse on Friday evenings, while the older members spend Saturday afternoons at the studio.

Sunday is an all in one day, as everyone rehearses on Sunday afternoons. And no objections are allowed over rehearsal times.

“That’s just the way it is,” Miller said. “That’s just when rehearsals are.”

The students’ time is matched — and rivaled — by Miller’s, as she is the director for each performance, and personally oversees rehearsals. For the current DAT production, “Snow White,” Miller makes efficient use of the students in her charge.

Preceding the main event will be the junior dancers’ rendition of “Dance Tapestry,” showcasing a variety of ballet performances, followed by the senior dancers performing to music from “Les Patineurs,” (The Skaters).

With a featured cast of Angelica Casamiro as Snow White, Katie Presley as the Wicked Queen, Cody Poole as Prince Charming, Jessica Newhard as the Good Fairy of the Woods, the show has a cast of about 60. Playing the Seven Woodsmen are Melanie Clayton, Camille Higashi, Stephanie Laberge, Taylor Mahoney, Kelsey Pruett, Kendra Richardson and Erica Runyan.

For Miller, every moment she spends in her studio pays off in dividends. As a director, she’s most at home sitting in her raised director’s chair, nestled in the corner of her studio, softly calling directions to her dancers.

“As the students get older, you see how they progress and how they do the different parts,” she said. “It’s just rewarding.”

“Snow White and the Seven Woodsmen,” March 28,29 in the Bremerton High School Performing Arts Center. For tickets, call (360) 692-4396.

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