Ballet Theatre of Annapolis (BTA) ended an extraordinary season last weekend with a nod to the future in a program that focused on youth in its fairy-tale subject matter and by showcasing young dancers.
Forty-six dance students from Anne Arundel County and the Eastern Shore performed with the troupe's professional dancers. The children's joy and pride were contagious, adding enjoyment to the program. Newly choreographed works by the theater's prolific artistic director, Edward Stewart, spotlighted the strengths of his 26-member company and the youngsters who joined them.
In the Beatrix Potter segment of "Fairy Tale Highlights," Amber Lynn Zecker as the Hedgehog brought great fun to the dance as she moved in a deliberately awkward fashion that required skill and concentration.
The second half of the program was devoted to the third act of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty" with choreography after Marius Petipa. The scene opened with the entire cast assembled on stage, followed with a lovely dance by Leslie Bradley as the Lilac Fairy. The Four Fairy Princesses danced by Anmarie B. Touloumis, Amber Lynn Zecker, Jennifer Dancesia and Natasha Kiryanova were outstanding.
The triumph of the evening was the incomparable Grand Pas de Deux by Dmitry Tuboltsev and Zhirui Zou.
The evening was marked by minor problems, including an overly long pause before the entrance of Jennifer Dancesia in the Fairy Princess segment and gaps in the music.
My one serious complaint concerns young children in the audience, who should be better supervised by the adults who bring them. A child decided to run from the front row of the theater half way up the aisle before she was caught by her adolescent sitter only to break away again for another shorter run, again chased by the adolescent. This happened at the worst possible time -- the beginning of Zou and Tuboltsev's Grand Pas de Deux. A recurrence of this kind would persuade me to advocate that BTA adopt a policy of admitting only school-age children to its performances.