Dance performances honor recent local tragedies

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By Bernadette Lauritzen

Los Alamos High School and Los Alamos Middle School will have students in the upcoming production of Dance Arts Los Alamos’ “Neverland.”
“’Neverland’ is a one act ballet that I have written based off of the original novel ‘Peter Pan’ by J.M. Barrie,” said DALA Director, Jonathan Guise. “It begins with the arrival of the Darling Children to Neverland and finishes with the battle between Peter and Captain Hook. It has neverbirds, fairies, mermaids, Lost Boys, pirates and more.”
Guise was invited by the previous director, Christin Severini, to apply for the position last summer and is now director of the school.
“This title requires me to take care of all coordination, choreography and overseeing the day to day functions of the school in cooperation with the Board of Trustees, who are the best board I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with,” Guise said.
DALA’s seniors from Los Alamos High School include Lauren Burr, Renee D’Andrea and Louisa Singleton. Additional Los Alamos Public School students are Cody Maggiore, Jenna Erickson, Melina Burnside and Indiana Warrior.
“Neverland” will be shown 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday with a matinee at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The Friday evening performance will have a reduced ticket price of just $5 and will also spotlight a special presentation of, “Peace for Broken Pieces,” a contemporary work in tribute to the four lives lost in the community, from suicide and a personal loss for Guise, of a dear friend and fellow artist, Julian Hunsaker.
“It was a very emotional time for all of us when it happened, and for me personally to lose such an amazing artist,” Guise said. “Someone I feel that would have made such a positive impact in the world with his music.”
Guise began dancing professionally at age 18 after graduating from The Harid Conservatory and dancing with the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Boston Ballet and The Eugene Ballet.
Guise has also taught at multiple dance studios around the country and had his choreography featured in commercials, television shows, and film.
“When it comes to ‘Peace for Broken Pieces,’ I selected those whom knew the victims,” Guise said, speaking about the local losses. “When we were going through the creative process, I was asking them to create movement that symbolizes what you would say if you had five minutes to speak to them again. I think that so far it has been a very healing process for them and I hope that translates to the audience.” 
Guise also hopes the piece will inspire the viewer to get involved with the community, support local initiatives and raise awareness.
A complimentary performance of “Life in a Pond,” featuring their early childhood division will be 2 p.m. Saturday. The free presentation will not include “Neverland.”