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ART BEAT: Sugarloaf Ballet celebrates decade of concert dance

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Sugarloaf Ballet will present its 10th annual Youth Concert Series performances Jan. 25 and 26 at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center. (Special Photo)

A performing arts event that began 10 years ago as an in-studio demonstration will celebrate a decade of dance with the 10th annual Youth Concert Series on Jan. 25 and 26 at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center. This offering of mixed repertoire by Sugarloaf Ballet will be performed at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

General admission tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased at Sugarloaf Performing Arts, located at 1140 Old Peachtree Road, Suite B, in Duluth.

Originally, this showcase was designed as a special training exercise to provide motivation and choreography experience to aspiring young dancers and choreographers. Now, the event has expanded into a full length production. Sugarloaf Ballet has also transitioned from the sole participant into the production host. SB extends invitations to local college companies and other well-respected dance companies. This year’s guests include Bravo Dance Center of Acworth, Breneau University and Refuge Dance Company of Atlanta.

The community collaboration will result in audiences experiencing a diversity of work without two shows being duplicated.

Audiences can expect many different types and styles of dance. There will be adaptations of children’s stories such as “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Willy Wonka” to the more mature romance of “Romeo and Juliet.” The Youth Concert Series may be named for the young, but all ages will find something to enjoy.

Artistic Director Lori Zamzow-Wire has created a new production titled “Song of Silence” set to music by Simon and Garfunkel. Dance genres featured in the program include classical ballet variations, modern, contemporary, jazz and lyrical. Choreographers include college students to seasoned professionals.

During the Youth Concert Series, Zamzow-Wire will give special recognition to student choreographers ages 13 to 19. One such young artist is Charly Gioino, a Youth Concert Series dancer.

“It’s both rewarding and challenging to work with my friends,” Gioino said. “Sometimes, the challenge is staying focused during rehearsals. The reward comes in the choreographers sharing their vision at a pace that really makes sense and seeing their dream come to life.”

Another student choreographer, Olivia Brooks, said, “As a choreographer, I’m learning that things don’t always go the way I plan them in my mind. Sometimes I have to dig a little deeper to find another solution that doesn’t compromise what I really want to see happen on stage. It’s hard work, but lots of fun.”

All of the student choreographers this year are from Gwinnett County. In addition to Gioino and Brooks, they are Alberto Andrade, Alex Archer, Jada Bourgeois, Abigail Harrison, Heather Jackson, Jane LeMay and Hannah Smith.

There is more to making a dance than putting together the movement. Young choreographers not only create the dance steps and patterns, they learn how to produce a work from start to finish — securing rental space, setting rehearsal schedules, creating costumes and identifying technical requirements.

For more information about Sugarloaf Ballet and the Youth Concert Series, visit www.sugarloafperformingarts.com or call 770-476-0025.

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