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Seniors in Gainesville Ballet enjoy a storybook ending
Dancers will grace Pearce Auditorium's stage one more time before graduation
Hansel and Gretel cast members, from left, Phalan Henry as Hansel, Monica Glosson as Gretel, Hannah Patten as Mother and Ralph Jacques as Father. - photo by Tom Reed
‘Hansel and Gretel’
What: Spring Storybook play performed by Gainesville Ballet
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Pearce Auditorium, Brenau University, 500 Washington St. SE, Gainesville
How much: center seating, $24 for adults, $20 for seniors, $16 for children; side seating, $16 for adults, $12 for seniors $10 for children
More info: 770-532-4241

Senior dancers Jessica Shilling, Kathryn Ash and Hannah Patten all will take the stage to perform Hansel and Gretel with the Gainesville Ballet Company this weekend.

But it will be their last performance with the company on the stage in historic Pearce Auditorium.

“Although we will be doing Dancing at Dusk at the amphitheater in May, this coming Sunday will be their last performance in Pearce,” said Tamara Stevenson, executive director of the Gainesville School of Ballet.

The three seniors who will graduate from high school in May will perform their roles in “Hansel and Gretel” this weekend, along with repertory pieces in Act I.

Patten plays Hansel and Gretel’s mother and a fairy, Ash also is a fairy and Shilling will throw on loads of green paint and play the witch in the ballet.

Costume designer Jill Peterson has spent months updating and reworking old costumes for the performance. Costumes include woodland creatures made from unitards, old tutus made new with top layers and bright hob goblin costumes.

“We have used them for everything you can imagine,” Peterson said.

About 75 dancers will put on the four performances from Friday to Sunday at Pearce Auditorium, which was choreographed by former Gainesville Ballet student Susan McGraw. McGraw taught the dancers the ballet in just nine days in January during what the ballet school calls “marathon week.”

“They got back from Christmas break and started on ‘Hansel and Gretel,’ and for nine days they worked solidly on ‘Hansel and Gretel,’” Stevenson said.

The story of Hansel and Gretel takes place in the woods and follows the children as they get lured by a witch into a gingerbread house. Hansel and Gretel soon escape after several mishaps.

“The first act is repertory pieces and there are eight of them,” Stevenson said. “We have company I, we have apprentices and we have juniors. And company I is going to do five of them (repertory pieces), the apprentices will do a piece and then we have two students that are dance students at Brenau that will do a piece also.”

Patten said that the contemporary ballet repertory piece called “Pulse” is her favorite because “it is fast-paced and intense.”