‘Phantom’ flies into Rifle | PostIndependent.com

‘Phantom’ flies into Rifle

Amanda Holt MillerPost Independent Staff
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson Michael Churchill, 18, dances with Kaitlyn Frank, 17, during a dress rehearsal of The Phantom Ballet. Frank will dance as Christine the first night and Churchill will dance as the Phantom both nights. The ballet will run at 7 p.m. today and Saturday at Rifle Middle School.

RIFLE – “The Phantom Ballet” tells the same wicked story of a love triangle as “The Phantom of The Opera,” without any of the dialogue.The stars express the story through carefully choreographed dance. The performance is the first full-length ballet ever for The Academy of Dance & Gymnastics in Rifle. The academy has been teaching dance since 1996 and students always perform a recital in the spring and fall.”This is an ambitious project,” said Leah Hernandez, who teaches ballet at the academy and directed the show. “But I wanted to give these guys more opportunity dance.”There are 30 young dancers in the performance. Many of them are dancing in toe shoes, something that takes months and even years to master.

The main characters, as in the play, are the Phantom, Christine, Raoul and Meg. The rest of the dancers portray a number of different character from audience members and actors to the dark shadows of the Phantom.Every time the Phantom enters the spotlight his ominous shadows haunt the stage with him. They encircle and capture the innocent Christine, who is the object of the Phantom’s affection.They keep Christine’s childhood friend and new love away from her as the Phantom scolds him.”The shadows are great,” said Kristin King, who owns the academy and helped to choreograph parts of the production. “Leah came up with that. There wouldn’t have been enough parts for the dancers without them.”The shadows add significantly to the aesthetics of the production and make the Phantom’s presence as large and intimidating for the audience as it is for the cast members who are frightened to the core by the masked phantom.

Michael Churchill plays the phantom.”It’s not all bad for the guys,” King said, laughing. “They get to dance with the girls.”Kaitlyn Frank plays Christine tonight. Callie Buchanan will play Christine on Saturday night. Both girls are seniors at Rifle High School.Practice for the ballet started last spring and the dancers have devoted at least four hours a week to the project.In the story of Phantom of the Opera, Christine is raised in the opera house and the Phantom, without ever being seen, teaches Christine to sing. Meg is an obnoxious diva, who the Phantom insists the theater owners replace with Christine. Once Christine’s childhood friend Raoul sees her perform, he falls in love with her.

The Phantom appears to Christine, takes her into his lair and tries to keep her away from Raoul.”I think she loves the Phantom,” King said. “But more like a father. In the end she says, ‘you pitiful creature of the dark.’ She cares for him, but she doesn’t want to live her life in a dungeon.”Contact Amanda Holt Miller at 625-3245 ext. 103ahmiller@postindependent.com

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