Wayne Center for the Arts

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Dancers prepare for "The Journey of Sunshine"

Wayne Center for the Arts dancers are pursuing an intense rehearsal schedule for their spring ballet “The Journey of Sunshine.” Choreographed by artistic director Brian Murphy, the ballet will tell an inspiring story of overcoming adversity with the support of family and friends. 

Wooster High School Performing Arts Center will again serve as the host location for the spring performances on April 13, 2019. The 2:00 performance will feature the entire school of dance at Wayne Center for the Arts, presenting both the Pre-Professional and Community School divisions. At 7:00, the Pre-Professional division will return with added guest performances by the local professional company, Walnut Street Ballet. The Walnut Street Ballet is a newly-formed company meeting and rehearsing out of Wayne Center for the Arts.

Tickets are now on sale at www.wayneartscenter.org, or may be reserved by phone at 330-264-2787, or in person at Wayne Center for the Arts, 237 S. Walnut Street, Wooster. Ticket prices are $8 for adults and $6 for students at the 2:00 performance and $12 for adults and $6 for students at the 7:00 performance.  

With over twenty years of experience, Wayne Center Ballet Artistic Director Brian Murphy brings a high level of energy, creativity, and expertise to his role as teacher and choreographer of these young dancers. Murphy’s choreography credits include the Verb Ballet, Lakeshore Dance Theatre, and University of Akron, and he is well-established as a teacher of dance across the state of Ohio. In addition to teaching, Murphy has also enjoyed a remarkable performing career, appearing with such professional dance companies as NEOS Dance Theatre, Verb Ballet, the Ohio Ballet, Groundworks Dance Theatre, the San Jose Ballet, the Nashville Ballet, and Ballet Met.

Murphy states the The Journey of Sunshine is a “ballet of opportunity, relationships, overcoming fear, and following the journey of life.” He encourages young dancers to make positive connections with others count.  “The journey of life is spent with people daily, and with our memories of our loved ones in our heart,” Murphy says. “In the end, love overcomes all.”

Murphy is dedicating the choreography in “The Journey of Sunshine” to Mel Tomlinson, a mentor, an advocate, and a friend. Tomlinson was an American dancer who performed with the New York City Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine. At the time of his debut, he was the only African-American dancer in the company. He went on to perform with prestigious groups across the company and to teach at the Boston Conservatory of Music, Harvard University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the School at Greensboro Ballet, and Charlotte Ballet. Tomlinson passed away earlier this year.

In addition to Walnut Street Ballet, Murphy will welcome the University of Akron Chamber Choir to the evening performance. Under the direction of Marie Bucoy-Calavan, the UA Chamber Choir is the premier auditioned choir at The University of Akron. This select ensemble has recently performed at Severance Hall, The Hochschule fur Musik und Theatre in Munich, Germany, the Knight Center, and the historic First Congregational Church, among others.  The choir will perform “Ad Manus” from Membra Nostri Jesu by Dietrich Buxtehude and To the Hands by Caroline Shaw as accompaniment to Walnut Street Ballet’s performance.

Dance Program Coordinator Kimberly Payne is also enthusiastic about this year’s performance, stating, “The Wayne Center Ballet has continued to become a family of strong, positive dancers and I'm proud of each of them.  We're looking forward to a powerful upcoming season of classical ballet."

Wayne Center Ballet dancers performing principal roles in this ballet include: Alayna Green as “Sunshine,” Ashley Schroer as “Rabbit,” Hannah Arnold and Oneli Basnagala as “Cat and Mouse,” Brianna Shearer and Sammy Amier as “Ballerinas,” and Alicia Martinez as “Darkness.” Also featured will be Carter Boreman and Olivia Murray as “Jackie and Heidi,” Ivy Shearer, Emma Graziano, Brielle Burchett, and Duncan Grimes as “Family,” and Nola Holmes-Rodgers, Soren Veney, and Lillian Schultz as “Birds.”