News Column

Local dancers Five local dancers earn spot in 'Brothers of the Knight' production

July 8, 2014

By Ed Waters Jr., The Frederick News-Post, Md.

July 08--Five young dancers from Frederick have been practicing seven hours a day through June and early July for their part in the Washington production of "Brothers of the Knight."

The girls, all students at 24/7 Dance Studio, were chosen from hundreds of dancers from around the region who auditioned for the five performances July 10-13 at the Warner Theatre. Sixteen boys and girls from the local studio went to the auditions.

Mackenzie Davis, Alyssa Perando and Addison Smith, all 11; Madison Knapp, 12; and Olivia Wilkison, 9, have been hard at work perfecting their ensemble performance with rehearsals at Howard University.

"We are in three scenes," Madison said. "It is mostly jazz music, toe-tapping music. And we sing."

All of the girls said they want to pursue careers in professional dancing.

Gina Korrell, owner of 24/7 Dance Studio, said the show, presented by Debbie Allen, James Ingram and Norman Nixon, will be performed in a number of cities.

A core group of dancers is traveling to all the cities, but in each one, an ensemble group is chosen from auditions for the specific city performances.

"They were picked as individuals for their skills, not as a group from the studio," said Korrell. She and the other 22 instructors at the studio have been working with the girls in all types of dance, as well as acting and singing.

Korrell, who has operated her studio for 13 years, is proud of the girls for their achievements.

"You have to find your passion. It doesn't have to be in performance, there is directing, producing, costumes, a lot more," Korrell said.

Rehearse, rehearse

Each morning for the past several weeks, parents have driven the girls to Howard University, about a 90-minute drive. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the girls go through their routines under the direction of choreographer Brandon O'Neal. The parents take turns on the commute, some on weekdays, others on weekends.

April Smith, who takes turns driving the girls to the rehearsal site, said they have the CD and the book the musical was made from. Based on the Brothers Grimm tale "The 12 Dancing Princesses," the performance tells of the youthful Knight brothers, who sneak out each night to dance at the Big Bad Ballroom.

The rehearsal is hard work, and O'Neal keeps the girls on track.

"He lets us know when we aren't keeping up," Addison said.

Korrell said that is an eye-opener for parents. "They may think their kids are great, but it is a whole different thing when they are being directed by a professional."

"It is a good taste of what professional life is like. ... It is a real education," said Cheryl Knapp. "I'm riveted when I watch it."

The girls have made new friends and are getting experience in the real world of performing arts, the parents said.

Jen Perando said the girls eat, do their homework, everything at the studio throughout the year.

"It is a learning experience for the parents, too," Korrell said. "It required the kids and parents to be professional."


(c)2014 The Frederick News-Post (Frederick, Md.)

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Source: Frederick News-Post (MD)

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