‘Calling All Angels’ memorial ballet

The Second Annual Community Dance Showcase, presented by the Mountainside Dance Center this Saturday, June 9, at 1 p.m. at the Rappahannock County High School auditorium, will honor and remember victims of violence in this country.

With the help of a grant from RAAC’s Claudia Mitchell Art Fund, Mountainside Dance Center students will be joined by students from Hope Gardens Children’s Ballet Theater to bring a selection of classical and original ballet performances to Rappahannock County.

Courtesy photo
Emily Hilscher of Woodville, who died in the Virginia Tech shooting, will be remembered at Saturday’s “Calling All Angels” memorial dance showcase at Rappahannock County High School.

The Rappahannock community was hit especially hard by the loss of Emily Hilscher, who died as a result of the Virginia Tech shooting on April 16, 2007. Saturday’s performance will be dedicated to her.

Special guest and renowned instructor Mme Fran Ichijo will present her troupe of accomplished dancers during the performance. Mme Ichijo is the artistic director of Hope Gardens Children’s Ballet Academy and its Ballet Theater. She has instructed ballet for 30 years and many of her students have gone on to dance in professional companies all over the world.

Though busy with her own original production of Pocahontas, she has graciously agreed to bring her dancers to Saturday’s program.

“This helps to inspire our dancers to see the potential they have for the future,” says Anne Williams, director of Mountainside Dance Center.

Other special guest artists include Miranda Hope, who will begin the program with a thoughtful message and beautiful voice. Matti Mae Hicks, a solo vocal artist, front woman of the band Paracosm, and private music instructor will accompany the Mountainside dancers. Local musician Ted Pellegatta will also perform.

Choreographers will include Kitty Keyser, a long-time Rappahannock dance teacher who instructed Emily Hilscher; Philip Rosemond, who danced professionally for many years; Nicole Wyant and Williams. Each has collaborated to create a series of dance pieces intended to honor those lost in school violence.

Just last year, RCHS averted a potential tragic event with the cooperation of students, the school system and law enforcement officials working together to keep students safe.

“Dance has been a form of cultural communication since the beginning of civilization. It not only gives the dancer a symbolic voice but can be very therapeutic to the audience,” Williams observes, adding that a dance studio can be a safe haven where children forget about their problems and become immersed in the joy of music and movement.

Through the gracious support of RAAC and local philanthropists, Mountainside has been able to offer dance to children that otherwise would not be able to afford the luxury of dance instruction.

“These are exactly the children we need to reach out to,” says Williams, “and these are the children that may most need the positive healing effects of dance.”

The receipt of a recent grant will allow Mountainside for the first time be able to offer dance to adults with limited budgets. Dance programs will also be available to young children in Orange and Culpeper counties at Lakeside Manual Physical Therapy in Unionville.

Williams points out that her father was president of the Humane Society of the U.S., and “I had the great opportunity to learn that the only way to preserve everything around us is to treat it kindly, with respect and reverence for all life.”

She says she also learned that “it takes just one person at a time to make a global change.”

For information on classes or scholarships at Mountainside Dance in Rappahannock County, or the new dance location Lakeside Manual Physical Therapy, or for advance ticket sales, call 540-987-9390. Children will be admitted free to Saturday’s performance; adults are $10.

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