Park City dancers leap into Children’s Dance Theatre’s production of ‘The Magic Lake’
The Children’s Dance Theatre will present “The Magic Lake” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 23, and 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 24, at the Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South in Salt Lake City. Tickets are available by calling 801-355-2787 or by visiting www.arttix.org.
Park City dancers Isabelle Aglaure and Sophia Wakefield will be among the 300 dancers who will take the Capitol Theatre stage when the Children’s Dance Theatre presents its production of “The Magic Lake” in Salt Lake City this weekend
“The Magic Lake,” based on a Peruvian folk tale, is set in the Inca Empire and follows the story of a girl named Chaska, a llama herder. When the emperor’s daughter falls ill, she is tasked with retrieving some of the lake’s healing waters.
Both Aglaure and Wakefield have been part of the Virginia Tanner Creative Dance program, which houses CDT at the University of Utah, for most of their lives.
Aglaure, a sophomore at Park City High School, started dancing when she was 2, and Wakefield, an eighth grader at Treasure Mountain Junior High, has been dancing in the program for 11 years.
Wakefield wants to inspire
Sophia Wakefield, whose segment takes place with 15 other dancers at the Magic Lake, said she enjoys performing in the Children’s Dance Theatre productions because they are more than just recitals.
“Dancing at the Capitol Theatre is a cool opportunity because there aren’t very many kids my age who get to dance on such a big stage,” she said. “I also get to perform in front of more than just parents and friends. I get to perform in front of dance lovers who come see the show, and I also get to share my passion with school students from Utah who come to see us. Who knows, someone who see us might want to get into dance because of the production.”
The 13-year-old likes to dance because it’s a form of expression.
“You don’t have to say anything when you dance, but you can still show how you feel,” she said. “There are so many ways to dance; you can just use your imagination.”
Wakefield, who has performed with Children’s Dance Theatre since she was in second grade, said she learns new things with each performance.
“I have a different teacher every year, and they all have different styles of movement and ways to choreograph,” she said. “I’ve gotten a taste of their different approaches, and that has given me a way to figure out my own style of movement and how I like to choreograph my own dancing.”
In addition to the Children’s Dance Theatre, Wakefield is part of Virginia Tanner’s In Motion, a company for junior high-aged dancers, and she also does dance in her school.
“I try to do my own choreography, and when I’m in a studio, I like to work in things by myself and improvise in the open space,” she said.
Dancing has also helped Wakefield with her self esteem.
“I tend to look down a lot when I walk around the school, and my dance teachers are always reminding me to look up and show people my face,” she said. “By doing so, I have learned to look people in eye because of that.”
Wakefield said dance also improves her ability to make friends.
“You meet so many different types of people, and it’s a lot easier to get to know someone when you’re at a place like Virginia Tanner because of all the people who are also different ages,” she said.
Wakefield got into dance because her mom signed her up for classes.
“I didn’t really fall in love with dance until the middle of last year,” Wakefield said. “That’s when I decided to put more focus on it and started working harder.”
Aglaure enjoys expressing herself
Isabelle Aglaure’s segment in “The Magic Lake” takes place shortly after Chaska heads out on her mission.
She dances as part of a pack of pumas who fight Chaska as she is making her way through the forest.
“When Chaska is making her way through the forest, she sees a hungry pack of pumas and we fight,” Aglaure said.
The 15-year-old said being a puma is a challenge because of the physicality of the role.
“Since they are cats, there is a lot of movements you have to do with your back,” she said. “The pumas also play with each other a lot, so there is a lot of jumping on each other. It’s very physical and intense.”
The intensity of the role is also one of the reasons why Aglaure likes her role.
“I like how the dancing feels in the moment, because you feel a sense of accomplishment when you finish,” she said. “It’s fun to dance with slow, sinister movements.”
Like Wakefield, Aglaure enjoys expressing her emotions through dance.
“You can translate everything you experience into movement,” she said. “If you’re having a bad day, you can create a dark dance and things like that.”
She also enjoys the friends she has made during the years she has been with the Virginia Tanner Creative Dance program.
“Tanner Dance is like a family, and there is a Big Sisters program where the older dancers spend a whole week with one of the younger dancers,” she said.
Both dancers are grateful for support
Aglaure and Wakefield said they wouldn’t have been able to dance in the performance if it weren’t for their parents’ support. Their mothers — Tamara Aglaure and Paige Wakefield — said sometimes getting their daughters to rehearsals three times a week in Salt Lake City is difficult, but the final results are worth the sacrifices.
“It is a pain to drive down there, especially in the winter, but when we get down there, you feel this nurturing, amazing and unique environment for the kids,” Paige Wakefield said. “It’s so hard being a teenager, and to have her in that nurturing environment for three nights a week is worth it.”
Tamara Aglaure agreed.
“There are many options for dance, and many of them focus on competition and don’t highlight the beauty of creativity,” she said. “Children’s Dance Theatre focuses on the creativity.”
Production expands dancers’ horizons
Mary Ann Lee, artistic director of Virginia Tanner Creative Dance and Children’s Dance Theatre, said the production company worked hard to make the story authentic to the Incan and Peruvian culture.
“Our company composer Tristan Moore found the story and brought us a book full of very old traditional folk tales,” Lee said. “When we started doing some research, we saw the tale told in other books, so we put together our story from several different iterations.”
Lee said she tasked Virginia Tanner teachers, who choreographed the different segments, to do more research on Incan culture.
“This production has been fantastic for us because we have learned so much about the culture and the beliefs of the Inca and Peruvian people,” Lee said. “’The Magic Lake’ is a heart-warming story and what’s been cool for us is tying us back to the culture.”
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