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Mary Poppins pops into Gainesville
Area ballet to perform Mary this weekend
The Gainesville Ballet presents “Mary!” at Brenau University’s Pearce Auditorium on March 14 through March 16.

The Gainesville Ballet Company is celebrating 40 years of performances with “Mary and other repertory works.”

“For the celebration, we’re doing our own version of the story of ‘Mary Poppins,’” said Diane Callahan, the company’s founding artistic director. “For the public performances, we’re also doing seven other short ballets, which are all varied. There are two classical ballets, one hip hop, a couple of jazz pieces and one for the younger junior company kids called ‘All About Shoes,’ which is just about various types of shoes and what people do in them.”

The show features original choreography by Kassandra Taylor Newberry, a lauded choreographer and dancer based in Atlanta. Roughly 60 performers will participate in the shows, though not all will be present during each performance.

Veteran dancers and company members Caroline Hollier, Jessie Johnston Carmon and Peter Swan are returning to perform in the anniversary show as well.

At a Monday afternoon rehearsal, the three reminisced about their experiences with the company over the years.

“It’s awesome being back here,” Carmon said. “Caroline was like a little sister to me. Your ballet friends are your best friends.”

Hollier, who returned to dancing about two years ago after a long hiatus, quickly agreed.

“There is joy, fun, pain and tears,” she said. “There is every emotion that goes into dance. I think that is why you are so connected to it.”

Swan and Carmon have led fruitful ballet careers as dancers and instructors outside of the Gainesville Ballet Company.

“It’s kind of like home,” Swan said. “I did pretty much start here, and Miss Diane has always been encouraging.

“Whenever I told her that an opportunity arose for me to dance elsewhere, she said ‘By all means go, but know that if you have to come back, you can.’”

The role of Mary will be shared by company members Olivia Jones, Reagen Leimbach and Caitlin Hardegree, who will each play it at a different show. Additional main roles will be played by dancers Mary Victoria Raynes, Ada Spahija and Shawn Enright.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Brenau University’s Pearce Auditorium, at 500 Washington St., in Gainesville. Ticket prices range from $12 to $26.

For more information or to order tickets call 770-532-4241.

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