NMDT to present 'Mother Goose'

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By Special to the Monitor

New Mexico Dance Theater will perform its fourth annual spring recital, “Mother Goose,” Friday and Saturday at Duane W. Smith Auditorium.

“NMDT spring recitals offer a chance for every student from the age of 2 through adult to perform in the style of dance in which they take lessons on a weekly basis,” said NMDT director Susan Baker-Dillingham. “Recitals are each student’s opportunity to shine, and show their families and friends the improvements they have made during the year.”

New Mexico Dance Theater’s 2007/2008 dance year has been a collaborative effort between NMDT and the Los Alamos County Library System, titled “Literacy in Motion.”

“How better to wrap up our collaboration than to use the rhymes of Mother Goose as the theme of our spring recital,” Baker-Dillingham said. “Mother Goose gives me and the NMDT faculty members a consistent theme to follow, and with choices like ‘Little Robin Redbreast,’ ‘Mary Mary Quite Contrary,’ ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ and ‘Pretty Maids All in a Row,’ how can you go wrong?”

The NMDT School was founded by Baker-Dillingham in August 2004 at the White Rock Municipal Complex with only 17 students. Its first spring recital, “Red White and Denim,” featured only 42 dancers, but these days the NMDT studio, located at 149 Central Park Square, conducts classes for 170 students on a weekly basis. “Mother Goose” will feature 150 of those students performing in 20 dances, and the faculty has choreographed dances in Mommy and Me, creative movement, jazz, tap, men’s class and all levels of ballet.

NMDT’s growth and popularity has flourished over the years. “I believe the steady increase in enrollment is due to the quality of training the students receive from the NMDT faculty members, who are each former professional dancers,” Baker-Dillingham said. “Los Alamos residents want the best they can get for their children and that is what NMDT offers. As well, I think past NMDT Performance Company productions – presented to the community such as our ‘Mixed Bill’ performances, ‘Dracula,’ and ‘Snow White’ – have made a very positive impact on Los Alamos.

“People want to get to know what we are doing and want to get their children involved with NMDT at an early age because they can sense the quality of the training,” Baker-Dillingham said.

And earlier is better in Baker-Dillingham’s opinion.

“NMDT Performance Company productions give students in the school something to strive for, something new and different to perform each year, and multiple chances to get on stage. The later you get started, the harder it is,” she said

Each year, NMDT students graduate and move on to college or university life, and those seniors are always honored at the end of each NMDT spring recital with a very special senior piece.

This year’s “Mother Goose” is a little different in that only one student, Anna Sofia Bridge, will graduate from NMDT and Los Alamos High School.

“I usually have several students graduating, but not this time,” Baker-Dillingham said. “It is always hard to say goodbye, but also very rewarding to see the accomplishments the high school seniors have made in the NMDT dance arena.”

Art Bridge and Meredith (Suki) Coonley are one set of parents who will be glowing as they watch their daughter’s last dance with NMDT. With guest artist Peter Strand, Bridge will perform “The Grand Pas” from the ballet “The Nutcracker” as her senior piece.

“Anna has studied under Susan’s tutelage for seven years,” Coonley said, “and she would not be where she is today without the mentorship, opportunities and skills Susan has provided her. I am moved to tears when I think about the positive aspect both Susan and NMDT have had on my daughter and my family.”

“Anna and Peter have had the opportunity to perform together in three other NMDT productions, so they know each other’s style of movement well,” Baker-Dillingham said. “I am very proud of Anna’s accomplishments and very proud I can help give her this chance as a graduating senior.”

Spring recitals are usually held at what seems like the end of the year, but at NMDT there is always something new to look forward to. NMDT will conduct its second annual Prince and Princess lessons for ages 5-7 and Young Dancers Workshop for ages 8-12 May 27 –31, with performances for each group May 31.

The fourth annual Summer Dance Intensive for advanced and intermediate dancers, featuring guest teachers Sheila Rozann of the Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet and Debra Mercer from Colorado College, will be held June 2–13, and NMDT’s summer term will run June 30–July 26.

Plans are also confirmed for next season, when the NMDT Performance Company will offer at least two new ballets, including Baker-Dillingham’s original version of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” and the full-length “Cinderella.” Students in the NMDT School will perform “The Night Before Christmas” at Fuller Lodge during Winterfest weekend, and the fifth annual spring recital will be presented the second weekend of May 2009.

Join NMDT at Duane W. Smith Auditorium in celebrating all of its students during its fourth annual spring recital, “Mother Goose,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and at 2 p.m. Saturday. Pre-sale tickets are available at Village Arts or at the door 30 minutes prior to performance times. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and children age 4 and younger are free. Registration materials will be available during intermission.

For more information about “Mother Goose,” or any of the summer programs listed above, call 662-NMDT.