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180 seconds

May 22, 2007|by MARY A. KAVANAGH

Ballet and All That Jazz dance school held its annual spring recital this past Saturday at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown. The performance displayed the skills and talents of dance students from preschoolers to high-schoolers. Dance styles included modern, ballet and jazz.

Some of the highlights of the show were the senior pieces - dance solos and duos. Each senior dancer had 180 seconds to embody their past 20,520,000 seconds of dancing as students at Ballet and All That Jazz.

I spoke with one of the seniors, Laura Farnen, 18, a student at North Hagerstown High School, about the performance.

Laura's performance, a mix of modern and jazz, was set to Madonna's "Ray of Light," which, she joked, she had "picked out in the third grade." She was allowed three minutes or less for her dance solo. All in all, there were 18 dances.

While some girls begin developing their pieces weeks before, Laura said she began working on hers earlier.

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"I started mine about a year ago. I loved how it turned out and it really showcased everything I've been learning," Laura said.

She was pleased with her performance. The recital went well in general, she said.

"I thought it was one of the best we've ever had; there were good variations and everything flowed this year," she said.

But most of all, she and the other dancers were thankful for the audience. "The audience is what makes it such a big deal," she said. "When everyone screams for you, it is unreal."

I wholeheartedly agree with Laura - this year was one of the most dazzling performances in the past few years. For the past seven years, I have attended BATJ recitals to watch my friends dance, and this year is by far my favorite one. Ranelle Flurie, owner of BATJ, engineered a spectacular recital. Choreography, costumes and music, chosen by Flurie and her teachers, were well thought out and appropriate for each class. I loved it when, during the Miss Muffet performance, a little boy, Richard Michiel, ran on stage dressed as a spider.

In previous years, the recital seemed to drag on and on. This year, two well-placed intermissions and shorter breaks between groups made the afternoon speed by.

But although Laura Farnen and the other dancers loved the audience, I didn't always feel the same.

The Maryland Theatre was packed when the show began. But as time passed, there were quite a few audience members who were restless. Some left in the middle of performances. In my favorite seat, the front row of the balcony, I could see the whole theater. By the time the last senior solo ended, about two hours after the show began, no more than 30 people remained.

This year's recital was everything that it should be - entertaining, breathtaking and humorous at times. I only hope that next year the students are just as excited to perform and that the audience is more eager to watch the efforts of a full year of practice.

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