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Ballerina for a day
Little girls get an inside look at a ballet company
Ballerina Elena Paul shows a group of young ballerinas how to do a spin during Saturday’s Snow White Mini-Camp and Tea Party. The event was put on by the Gainesville Ballet for children ages 3-9. - photo by Tom Reed

Aspiring ballerinas ages 3 to 9 enjoyed a day of dance Saturday at the Snow White Mini-camp and Tea Party held by the Gainesville Ballet Co.

The young dancers dressed in black and pink also learned a short routine from Company 1 dancers and apprentices. The two-hour event included a dance rehearsal and performance, crafts, juice and snacks and a picture with Snow White.

Susan Schilling, chairwoman of the Mini-camp and Tea Party, is in her fourth year of volunteering.

"It’s a wonderful organization right here in the community," Schilling said of the Gainesville Ballet Co.

Schilling said she is happy to volunteer at the mini-camp to encourage the arts.

Dancers attending the mini-camp were placed by age into four groups: Red Flowers, Yellow Flowers, Woodland Creatures and Forest Fairies.

One of the 75 aspiring ballerinas at the event was Claire McCarty, 4, who was a Yellow Flower. McCarty also attended the Nutcracker Mini-camp in November and said she enjoyed eating snacks and meeting Snow White this year.

One of the leaders of the Yellow Flower group was Stephanie Savitz, 17, of Gainesville. Savitz and other group leaders taught the girls a quick dance lesson they made up themselves.

Savitz said she enjoyed watching the girls interact as they had juice and snacks, a makeover and watched the Disney movie, "Snow White."

"I love working with children," Savitz said. She has worked with the mini-camp for seven years and said she hopes to teach ballet in the future.

Sarah Griffin, 16, of Gainesville dressed as Snow White to take pictures with the dancers and visit with them in the tea room. Rommie Stalanker, who plays Snow White in the Gainesville Ballet’s performance, was unable to attend the mini-camp.

Griffin said the young dancers get so excited to see the characters and they love the costumes.

"I used to get so excited seeing characters as a kid, too," Griffin said. She said she takes part in the mini-camp to inspire the kids to become ballerinas.

Diane Callahan, the founding artistic director of Gainesville Ballet Co., said the mini-camp seemed "fabulously successful."

"It introduces them to an easy and fun way to dance," said Callahan of the event.

Tamara Stevenson, executive director of Gainesville School of Ballet, said she likes knowing the girls get to see the discipline and strength required of a ballerina.

"Dancing takes more intelligence than people think," Stevenson said.

The mini-camp, which began at 10 a.m., concluded at noon with the participants performing for their parents. The young dancers were also able to purchase Gainesville Ballet Co. T-shirts.

The company’s performance of Snow White will feature more contemporary dances by Juniors, Apprentices and Company 1 dancers. The show will run March 14-16 in the Pearce Auditorium at Brenau University. Tickets are now on sale and available by calling Gainesville Ballet’s box office at 770-532-4241.

"It’s one of our best shows. We are all psyched for it," Callahan said of the upcoming Snow White performances.