ART BEAT: Sugarloaf Ballet Company makes its debut with 'Aladdin'

Gwinnett audiences will welcome a new performing arts organization as Sugarloaf Ballet Company makes its debut with the ballet “Aladdin” on Oct. 2 and 3 at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center. The new company, which just received its nonprofit 501(c)3 status, is headquartered at the Sugarloaf Performing Arts studios in Duluth.

“Aladdin” will launch the new company as this full-length, three act ballet is presented in three performances: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2 and 2 p.m. Oct. 3.

The ballet is choreographed by SBC Artistic Director Lori Zamzow-Wire. It tells the story of how young Aladdin struggles with a ruthless sorcerer seeking power and destruction. With the help of Princess Jasmine, a magical genie and a cast of 60, Aladdin prevails.

The character of Aladdin is danced by Nick Hagelin, a professional dancer who studied at the American School of Ballet and danced with the Carolina Ballet and Georgia Ballet. He is also a professional singer/songwriter and recently signed a recording contract.

Hagelin will be anticipating more than applause. He is also about to become a father. His wife is due to give birth to their first child the weekend of the show.

The role of the evil sorcerer will be portrayed by Beau Foister, a Georgia native. The Genie will be danced by Nick Lewis, a dance student at the University of Georgia. Princess Jasmine will be performed by Jessica Ojeda, a pre-professional student at the Sugarloaf Performing Arts School.

One of the intriguing aspects of “Aladdin” is the Cave of Wonders. It is being carved out of foam by Gainesville artist Eddie Wright and a few volunteers.

SBC spokesperson Brian Wire said, “The cave resembles a panther head, and it is over 12 feet tall, 16 feet wide and 8 feet deep. The huge foam blocks were provided by Peachtree Packaging in Lawrenceville.”

Starting a new pre-professional company during these hard economic times is a salute to the perseverance and determination of the SBC directors. Lori Zamzow-Wire, artistic director, has a good foundation for making SBC successful. She grew up in Lakeland, Fla., and received much of her early training and teaching experience from Florida Dance Theatre. She then obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with emphasis on dance performance from the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.

Zamzow-Wire was a soloist for five years with The Georgia Ballet, headquartered in Marietta, and is a guest choreographer for that organization. She purchased the studio in 2004 and started building her vision for a performing company, hiring top instructors and creating an academy of arts.

One SBC student has become so successful that he cannot perform in “Aladdin.” Julian Duque has been accepted at the prestigious Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and has already started classes in Carlisle, Penn. This institution is one of the leading training grounds for developing young classical dancers in the United States.

Tickets for “Aladdin” are $16 and are available through all Ticketmaster outlets and at the Gwinnett Center Box Office. Group tickets may be purchased at the Sugarloaf Performing Arts studio lobby for $12 each.

For more information, call SBC at 770-476-0025 or visit www.sugarloafperformingarts.com.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. E-mail her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.