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Students spotlight dance, Wonderland

Hayward School ballet dancers present spring show

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Posted: Thursday, May 31, 2012 1:59 pm

Upstairs in the historical Montara schoolhouse, home of the Susan Hayward School of Dancing, a soft piano cadence floats from a practice room lined with barres. Dancers move diagonally across the floor, whirling gracefully, arms flowing, posing on pointe before whirling on.

In the hall, costumes in bright pastel shades hang on a rack below somber portraits of ballet giants Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev. When the warmup is over, the girls will put them on and quietly file downstairs to rehearse for the school’s annual spring production.

At 7 p.m. on Friday, June 1, and 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 2, roughly 65 dancers age 8 and up will perform “For the Love of Dance” and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

“For the Love of Dance” is an exposition of all types of dance, when small ensembles will leap through modern and classical ballet, jazz or tap dancing. “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” a returning favorite since the school presented it in 2002 and 2006, features excerpts from the classic tale.

At 1 p.m. on Saturday, the school will present a matinee featuring 25 younger dancers age 3 to 6, in “Alice and the Enchanted Garden.”

For three students due to graduate high school in June, these shows are a farewell to the Hayward company. Rachel Walker and Hannah Greenberg will alternate dancing the roles of Alice and the White Rabbit, and Devin McPherson is part of the Wind and Flowers.

Walker started dance at 3 and studied at the Hayward school for nine years and for three years at St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco, which she credits with improving her ballet. Though not aiming to go professional, she plans to continue dancing in college and credits ballet with giving her the discipline “that will help me in adult life.”

Greenberg, last seen as Cosette in the Half Moon Bay High School musical production of “Les Misérables,” also started ballet studies at 3. Noting that ballet “is a big part of my life,” she plans to minor in dance while studying environmental science at the University of Oregon.

“I learned determination and the importance of hard work” at the Hayward school, she said. “It’s more than dance. Ms. Hayward teaches you life skills.”

McPherson studied gymnastics and hip-hop when she was younger but had always wanted to try ballet, so she became a Hayward student three years ago. She recalled that it was “a bit awkward” starting dance among veterans as a teen, but now that she knows everyone in the school, it’s much better. What does she take with her from the school? “No matter how difficult it is, keep smiling and make people think it’s easy,” she said. “I highly recommend (ballet).”

Tickets to the shows are $15/adults and $12/children and seniors. For information call 728-7519.

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