DDC Prepares Beauty and the Beast


by Terry Rogers


For the second year, Diamond Dance Company will present the ballet “Beauty and the Beast” in two public performances on April 21 at 2 PM and 7 PM. A special children’s production is planned for school students on Thursday, April 19.

“We do our shows in two-year cycles,” Bliss Soucek, one of the directors of the dance group, said. “This enables us to use sets, props and choreography a second year. It also gives dancers an opportunity to portray different roles in the show.” Misty Yencer, a director at Diamond Dance Company, says that the group looks at stories that are going to appeal to families and the public in general. Because Beauty and the Beast is a classic story that appeals to both young girls and boys, it felt like a natural choice. The fact that a live action movie based on the fairy tale was scheduled for release last year was another factor.

Audiences will see differences in this year’s performance. There are a few new costumes and there is a new village backdrop that enhances the opening of the show. The ballet was completely recast which meant that the directors had to reshape choreography to fit the new dancers.

“We are changing things from last year that we feel we can make stronger or more challenging,” Aimee String, who assists in directing the dance group, said. “It really is a labor of love. We’ve also kept the DDC tradition of using some of Tatiana Akinfieva-Smith’s original choreography. It warms our heart to keep her legacy alive in this manner.” Akinfieva-Smith founded the dance company and the dance studio is named in her honor.

Juliana Warnock, 14, who will dance the part of Belle in the ballet says she loves finding new ways to be more like the iconic character each week. She enjoyed being able to dance and portray the lead character.

“Belle has always been one of my favorite princesses,” Warnock said. “As I grew up, I believe that I have learned something from each of the princesses. Therefore, I bring my humorous and curious side from my own personality to the role. In rehearsal, everyone can see those two things and I can’t wait to do this role on the stage!”

Emma Moorman, 14, will dance the part of Rose and loves dancing the character because the mood on stage changes whenever Rose appears on the stage. The rose in the ballet casts a spell over everyone which leads to different dances on stage. The most difficult part about playing Rose is that the flower dies throughout the ballet, so Moorman must express those feelings through dance. Moorman is able to bring her sensitive side out through the dance as the rose is thoughtful, something she thinks she is able to portray well.

“I am really excited that this is my first lead role,” Karsyn Bradley, 14, who plays Chip the teacup, said. “I really enjoy getting to dance with the older dancers and the male ballet dancers. The most difficult part can be the scenes where the music is more fast-paced. I’ve had to work hard to learn to dance at a fast pace. Chip is really curious and always seems to know what’s going on in the castle and I like to know what is going on around me, too. Chip also seems to be happy and upbeat, and I try to 

bring that to the character as well.”

Natalie Stevenson, 11, who plays the part of Tabouret the footstool, loves to have fun and “be sassy,” character traits she plans to bring to the role of Tabouret. Makenzie Dee, 14, who will dance the part of Wardrobe says that she loves clothing and is excited that she will dance the part of the ballet that is the “keeper of all Belle’s beautiful dresses.”

“When dancing the part of the clock, what I enjoyed most was really bringing the character to life and telling a story through dancing,” Rebecca Lane, 15, who will dance the part of Tick-Tock, said. “Being able to portray a character that is unlike me was, at times, challenging, but overall, was a fun, creative experience I will cherish for years to come. The most difficult part of this character was trying to be the serious one. This is due to the fact that in real life, I love to have fun and make people smile, but as the clock, I had to be stern, strict and serious.”

Tickets for public performances can be purchased online at https://www.tututix.com/client/southerndelawareballet/. Tickets are $20 for premium seats, $15 for adults and $10 for students/senior citizens. The performances will take place at the Milford High School Auditorium.