Some of the older ballerinas at the Central Washington Dance Academy have been learning proper ballet techniques over the past 13 or more years. For its production of “Swan Lake” that debuts Friday, not all of that knowledge translates.

“They have to take every role they’ve ever learned about how to use their arms and throw it in the trash can,” said Jane Venezia, the performance company’s artistic director.

The production runs at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Morgan Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available at Jerrol’s and at the door for $15 for adults, and $8 for children under 12 and seniors.

With choreography originating in 1895, the ballet tells the story of a princess, Odette, who is captured by an evil magician, Count Rothbart, and transformed by him. She is doomed to be a swan by day and can only return to her human form at night.

While usually taught to stay rounded or straight, dancers in “Swan Lake” practice all different angles, to better emulate becoming an animal.

“I think because it is so old, it’s a very distinct style of ballet,” said Brea Norelius, one of the ballerinas. “You have to get used to it, and you need a lot of strength to do it. That’s very challenging.”

She said they practice Pilates as well as take a cross training class to help get prepared for the show.

The dance academy students range in age from 7 to 18, along with several adults helping in non-dancing rolls. In addition, the company hosts a guest artist, this time Reed Souther, who is the principal dancer at the Eugene Ballet Company in Eugene, Ore.

Souther spent a week in May learning the role of the prince.

“It’s been great,” Souther said. “The two students have been really great.”

Souther said it’s always difficult being a guest artist, since he has to rehearse parts at home with different partners, plus traveling around for other guest spots.

“I love Ellensburg,” he said.

The company has been rehearsing this production since February, with three-hour rehearsals on Friday and six- or seven-hour rehearsals on Saturdays. Since the material is quite challenging, Venezia said some adjustments have been made, including splitting the role of the white and black swan, which is usually performed by one dancer, into two roles.

“We felt this is our 10th year existing as a pre-professional, company for training a lot of dancers, so we were ready for the challenge,” Venezia said.


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