Backstage: NU dancers, Gregg Schiffner and Glass Bead Players supported |

Backstage: NU dancers, Gregg Schiffner and Glass Bead Players supported

It must be rewarding to be in the Nevada Union High School Theatrical Dance Department!

The department presented its first “A Student Choreography Showcase” last Friday and Saturday to extremely enthusiastic full houses. Saturday’s performance began 15 minutes late as audience members tried to find seats.

The dancers were cheered nonstop by all-ages audiences, beginning with the first of eight poised student choreographers introducing their pieces to the grand finale.

The finale was a tribute to the late Cierra Davis, who was in the NU dance program from 1996 to 2000. Seventy cast members danced as pictures of Davis and her peers were presented on a large screen above.

Dance program director Yelana Holt was proud of her students’ determination to present the two-night showcase.

“It was a lot of work,” Holt said. “The students rehearsed after school, on top of rehearsals for the (annual) May show.”

Holt estimates each dance number took six rehearsals, three hours each. In addition, the students spent the last two weeks at school in rehearsals during class and after school.

“It really gave the kids ownership, gave them leadership skills and helped them understand all the roles in being involved in producing a dance show,” Holt said. “It also empowered them to other strengths and capabilities they didn’t know they had.”

Also receiving a lot of community support was Gregg Schiffner’s “Stories of the Yuba” documentary, returning last Friday through Sunday at the Nevada Theatre.

Schiffner’s event also included live music by musicians in the documentary and the playing of a new CD, “Musicians in Praise of the River,” which was accompanied by a photo collage of the musicians.

More than 600 attendees showed up at the theater during the three nights.

Expecting 500 viewers last weekend, Schiffner is thrilled with the turnout.

“The audience was so warm and gracious,” he said. “To me, these were the best shows since the first opening night in 1997. The live music, the audience and the CD made this weekend special.”

The CDs should be in area stores by mid-March. Call Schiffner at 265-3638 to order a CD.

Attendance was also high at the Glass Bead Players debut Friday and Saturday at the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center.

Mike Getz said all the seats were taken both nights. His daughter Azriel Getz formed the dance performance group with Bill Dufford and Juliet Lin in October.

– Carol Feineman

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