This year is their 12th annual collaboration. The tiny and great dancers partner to perform through joint dance classes taught by ABS dance teacher Jan Adams. Ms. Adams also taught prep ballet classes for 27 years at UNCSA and was North Carolina’s Charter School Teacher of the Year in 2014-2015.
The young students and their teachers use Prokofiev’s beloved musical tale to study story structure and sequence, character and setting, and scientific examination of animal movement. They compare the evil wolves in children’s literature with real wolves, discovering that the shy creatures are family-oriented and have been vilified through much of classic fiction.
The students each dance the role of one character from the story. After introductory dance classes with the big dancers, Ms. Adams works with the UNCSA dancers to consider how they might choreograph the story for little people. Eventually, the story is prepared with big dancers leading the little dancers through, providing the little ones with a visual safety net. When the duck appears on stage, seven little ducks waddle behind her. If stage fright confuses the little ducklings, they can look up at their tall leader and follow. There are also breathtaking performances by the grown-up dancers when they break off into moments of their own.
This year’s performance took place yesterday on the big Freedman Theatre stage at UNCSA, (our first return to that campus since 2019) and in spite of ongoing adjustments due to the ever-changing Covid landscape. But most notable, it was Ms. Adam’s last. She has announced her retirement at the end of this year. The production was her unique idea. Her carefully developed mixture of individualized care and detailed group procedures makes it possible for us to manage a production of this scope with sixty little children, safely, effectively, and joyfully. It’s memorable, too. Our 8th graders recall it with nostalgic delight. The respect and trust extended to Ms. Adams by the famed dance department at UNCSA has made her an ideal mentor for accomplished dancers who are working with the community. She has given us this beautiful gift for twelve years, and we are most grateful.