Ridgefield School of Dance to celebrate its 20th anniversary this weekend

The Ridgefield School of Dance will celebrate its 20th anniversary May 19-20 at East Ridge Middle School with a performance of Madeline, a charming ballet choreographed by the studio’s artistic director Jessica Boelts, based on the children’s classic. The entire ballet school will participate. Also performed will be the Grand Pas Classique from Paquita, and Brand New by the jazz department.

“This is such a fun performance. The choreography is wonderful, the costumes and the music — it is just a pleasure to watch,” said school director Alison Brown. “Jess has outdone herself with designing this not-to-be missed show that audiences of any age will enjoy.”

Gabrielle Tuttle, a third-grader from Ridgefield, will dance the title role of the tiny but brave Madeline, as the youngest of 12 schoolgirls exploring Paris. Erik Osterkil, a student at the prestigious SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance, will dance the role of the sailor, on leave in Paris and taken by the beauty of several lovely mademoiselles.

On their journey, the schoolgirls encounter a variety of characters, including gendarmes, shop girls, ballerinas and a sailor in the park, in locations as diverse as a patisserie, a boutique and a museum. “Virtually every student in the studio will be performing and audiences will delight in seeing the girls dance their way through Paris,’’  Brown said.

The spring show also presents the Grand Pas Classique of the romantic classical ballet, “Paquita.” Dancing the title role is Madison Rucolas, a Ridgefield High School senior, who is dancing her final ballet with the studio before heading off to college this fall. She will be partnered by guest artist Michael Crawford of Stamford.  "Paquita is a challenging piece and shows the classical training of the school, while Madeline allows the dancers to let down their hair, have fun in character roles and show off the versatility of all of the technique learned over the years,” said Boelts.

Also taking their final bows are high school seniors Mackenzie Whitelaw of Ridgefield and Rachel Castaldi of Wilton. As company members, all three will perform in Paquita and Madeline.

Madison and Mackenzie are both members of the jazz company and will also be in “Brand New,” the jazz component of the spring performance. Each year, the jazz department concludes the spring show with its own mash-up of jazz, theatre dance, lyrical, contemporary and tap dance. Following her debut last year as a choreographer, Wilton junior Kyra Winslow will present two new dances alongside the choreography of the jazz department teachers, Michael Crawford, Stevi Van Meter and Adea Sessoms.

The spring show is divided into two performances. The May 19 showcase will include Act I of Madeline, the Paquita Grand Pas Classique and selections from “Brand New.” The curtain is at 6:45 pm. The curtain will rise at 1:30 pm on Sunday, May 20, for the full performance of Madeline, the Grand Pas Classique and all of Brand New.

For tickets, www.theridgefieldschoolofdance.com. Tickets are also available at the door the day of the performance. For more information, 203-894-5957.