Dance returns to Cullman County stages starting this week

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Image courtesy of Brooke Desnoës Ballet Academy

ULLMAN and HANCEVILLE, Ala. – As the world reopens from a year of disappointing COVID shutdowns, Cullman County is seeing live arts and entertainment events return to local stages. Dance productions will open this Wednesday, April 7, with a show by Wallace State Community College’s (WSCC) Allegro Dance Theatre, followed by ballet performances later in the month. 

Brooke Desnoës, WSCC dance instructor and head of Cullman’s Brooke Desnoës Dance Academy, told The Tribune, “We were able to do a few things outside, but it’s nice to be back in the theater. It’s good to be able to do both; you know, both are good learning experiences for the kids. But certainly, they need to be in the theater, too. There’s a whole other concept of dancing in the theater, so it’s nice to be back.” 

“Futures” 

WSCC’s Allegro Dance Theatre will put on the student-produced multi-genre show “Futures” Wednesday evening. 

WSCC issued this statement: 

Wallace State Community College’s Allegro Dance Theatre will present its spring showcase “Futures” Wednesday, April 7 at 6 p.m. in the Betty Leeth Haynes Theatre. The Betty Leeth Haynes Theatre is located in the Garlan E. Gudger Sr. Student Center on the Hanceville campus. A donation of $5 for admission is suggested. 

The spring showcase is an opportunity for students in the Dance program at Wallace State to choreograph and perform their own dance pieces. Performances will range in style from classical ballet to jazz, modern and hip-hop. 

“It’s really a nice show,” said Brooke Desnoës, Wallace State’s dance instructor. “You’ll see a little bit of their personality in each piece. It’s really a reflection of the dance program because there’s a little bit of everything in it.” 

Most of the students in the Dance program will go on to teach, choreograph or perform dance once they complete their education at Wallace State. Others may use what they learn as they pursue other careers, such as education or psychology. 

“They’ve figured out how dance fits into their future,” Desnoës said. “Some of them want to dance, some to teach, some of them want to use what they’ve learned in other careers. One student wants to be a child psychologist and will use dance in her practice. 

“It’s very telling of where the future of dance is going,” Desnoës added. “To study dance at Wallace doesn’t mean you have to walk out the door and wear a tutu. It can mean many, many things.” 

Desnoës said she’s proud of this group, her first cohort with the college’s new dance program. 

 “I’ve seen them grow so much over the two years, as dancers and as young people,” she said. “They’re all very talented, but they’re all very responsible and respectful people. They’ve all got pretty bright futures ahead of them, I think.” 

 The program offers associate degrees with concentrations in Dance Performance and Dance Education and short-term certificates in Choreography and Ballet Pedagogy. Priority registration for the Summer 2021 semester will begin April 13, with classes starting May 26. 

 Desnoës told The Tribune, “It’s basically a showcase of the students’ work. We’re graduating our first cohort of dancers, and so it’s a totally student-generated performance . . . It’ll be ballet, it’ll be modern, it’ll be contemporary, it’ll be jazz, it’ll be hip-hop; it’s a little bit everything. The students have choreographed it, they’ve promoted it to some degree, they’ve generated the program, the poster. This is like their final project.” 

 Desnoës added, “All of the kids who are graduating have gotten accepted into university programs or elite training programs all over the United States, so we’re super, super proud of them. They’re going to places like American Repertory Ballet, they’re going to Florida State summer programs. They’ve been accepted to Belmont, Belhaven dance programs. I’ve got two transferring to UAB; they’ll be trying out for the Blazerettes. So I’m just really proud of the work they’ve done.” 

 Seating for the performance will be socially distanced, and masks are encouraged. 

 “Alice in Wonderland” coming to the St. Bernard Byre April 24 

 Brooke Desnoës Ballet Academy, in collaboration with the Cullman Civic Ballet, will present its production of “Alice in Wonderland” at the Byre Theater on the campus of St. Bernard Abbey Saturday, April 24, 2021. 

Desnoës told The Tribune that her studio’s production is “a 45-minute synopsis of ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ based on the Lewis Carroll book, and it’s very child-friendly. It’s just a fun ballet; it’s danced by children for children.” 

Desnoës said of her students, “They’ve just made so much progress, even through the pandemic. That studio and Cullman Civic Ballet’s only really been in existence for about two years, and just the potential that those kids have to go on and do pretty much whatever they wanted to do with dance is huge. And it’s good to have the opportunity to work with them and help them realize their dreams.” 

In addition to the full production at St. Bernard, the troupe will also offer a sampling of pieces from the show at Art Park April 22 during Cullman’s Earth Day celebration, and at the Cullman Strawberry Festival May 1. 

 Tickets for the full performance are $10, and are available by calling 256-338-6401. 

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com