Photo of the fire dance from rehearsal of The Secret Garden. Photo by Mary Beth Loewen
If you like ballet, dancing in general, or at least cute children running around on stage, you’re in for a treat this weekend. The Little School of Dance will put on their version of The Secret Garden, based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
The school has been working since January to prepare for its spring recital. Director and owner, Molly Brodie, says the play is about two cousins from difficult family situations who find themselves through nature. And she says about 180 of their students will be involved, from 3-years-old and up.
“The kids have been learning dances and we’ve been putting it together now for five months,” says Brodie. “And that’s a lot of work, a lot of stage time, a lot of different roles, and I have 6 teachers that help me and we put it all together. It’s a huge job.”
Askar Alimbetov plays the male lead and flew up from California for the part. He says he met Brodie through friends and has traveled to Kodiak to perform with the school since 2005. Although now he lives near San Diego and teaches at a local school, he originally trained in Kazakhstan. He says a government sponsored ballet program recruited him at age ten.
“Two teachers came to my regular school and they had auditions,” says Alimbetov. “They picked me from 36 kids in my class and probably fifteen kids from entire school. And they were stretching us… to see who could do left split, middle split, to see who is more flexible.”
The performance’s female lead is Brodie’s daughter, Tessa Heiberg. Brodie says seniors get preference for special roles.
“Tessa’s a senior and I’m her mother and she’s an excellent dancer and actress on stage, so I chose her to do the lead role because I thought she could do it well,” says Brodie.
And it’s kind of fitting, because Brodie is in the performance too. Here’s Heiberg.
“I think we’re doing a little piece together. We’re gonna dance. She’s my mom in the show,” says Heiberg.
Heiberg says this is a bittersweet performance, because it’s her last one in town.
“Once I go off to college, I’ll still be doing the same thing, but I’ll really miss doing the community performances with all my friends, and everyone that’s been watching me my entire life, so it’s kinda sad,” says Heiberg.”
You can watch Heiberg dance an eclectic selection of pieces, from contemporary to ballet, at the performance this Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets will be on sale for fifteen dollars at the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium starting at 6:30 p.m.