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Learning their felines

Media City Youth Ballet presents original choreography to short story apt for the season.

October 06, 2009|By Joyce Rudolph

Media City Youth Ballet has a spooky treat planned for children this Halloween season.

Director Natasha Middleton has taken the short story, “The Cat and the Witch” by Elizabeth C. Stephens and combined it with the music of 20th century Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich.

There will be a different cast of young dancers, ages 9 to 17, at each performance — 3, 4:15 and 5:30 p.m. Oct. 24, in the Theatre Arts Courtyard just outside of the Media Dance Centre. All performances are free and youngsters are invited to dress up as a witch or a cat for a costume contest, Middleton said.

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There will also be treats for the kids.

“It’s nice to be able to give something to the public and have kids experience the arts,” she said. “We want kids to see youngsters their own age become these different characters and dance at the same time.”

The youth ballet performed the show for the first time Sunday at the West Hollywood Book Fair, drawing a crowd of 500, she said.

“It was a big success,” Middleton said. The fair is an annual event dedicated to promoting literacy in West Hollywood and is sponsored by the West Hollywood, said Burbank resident Carrie LaFerle, who is a coordinator of the book fair with Roz Helfand, the main organizer.

The children watching the ballet were enraptured, LaFerle said.

“It’s a real clever piece,” she said. “The characters had very intricate and detailed movements.”

The cat had such feline-like movements, it really thrilled one little girl, La Ferle said.

“She saw the cat come on stage and she ran all the way from the back to the front of the stage so she could see it close,” she said. “It was darling.”

The youth ballet, which is only in its second season, has also been invited to perform at Emerson Elementary and John Burroughs High School later this month, Middleton said.

There’s a lot of satire in it, which adds to it appeal, she added.

“It’s a funny situation between this poor cat who gets taken from the streets and the witch who tries to get the cat to do her evil work,” Middleton said. “The cat can’t seem to come back with the merchandise.”

The narration is prerecorded by actress Elmarie Wendel from “George Lopez” and “3rd Rock from the Sun.”

She is an honorary advisory board member to the Media City Ballet Company.

The music by Shostakovich matched the story, Wendel said.

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