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Ballet company announces auditions for 'Jungle Book'

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Curt Yeomans and Johnny Jackson

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The Atlanta Festival Ballet will bring the characters of Mowgli, Baloo, Bagheera, Shere Khan and King Louie, from "The Jungle Book," to local stages this spring, and local residents are invited to audition as back-up performers in the production, according to ballet company officials.

The company is looking for locas, whether they are ballet novices, or experienced dancers, to play roles such as a pack of wolves, or villagers.

The production, which was previously performed by the Atlanta Festival Ballet in 2006, was created by Gregory Aaron, one of the company's two artistic directors. It is a combination of the Walt Disney Company movie, "The Jungle Book," and its sequel, "The Jungle Book 2," he said.

"It basically follows the Disney version of 'The Jungle Book,' and 'The Jungle Book 2,' so we have a Mowgli, a Baloo, a panther, a snake, a tiger, and a princess," Aaron said. "Act One will take place in the jungle, while Act Two will also take place in the jungle, but what looks like the Taj Mahal has been added to the background."

The ballet company will hold auditions for residents, ages 3 and up, on Sunday, Jan. 31, from 1 p.m., until the last person auditions, at the Atlanta Festival Ballet company studio, which is located at 416 Eagle's Landing Parkway in Stockbridge.

Atlanta Festival Ballet Executive Director Judi Peterson said children, ages 3 to 6, can audition from 1 p.m., to 2 p.m., while youths between the ages of 7 and 10 can audition from 2 p.m., to 3 p.m., and any child over the age of 11, and adults can audition from 3 p.m., onward. People who want to audition should arrive at least 15 minutes early to register, she added.

"Our typical productions include right around 125 people, and sometimes, we have more than one cast," Peterson said. "It depends on how many people we get."

Aaron said the auditions will be judged by himself, fellow Atlanta Festival Ballet Artistic Director Nicholas Pacana, Associate Artistic Director Jocelyn Buchanan, and Ballet Mistress Giselle Pugh.

People who audition will be judged on their willingness to learn, ability to follow instruction, and their coordination, Aaron said.

"They will be given a simple set of dances to do, and they will be judged on how well they follow our direction on how to do those dances," Aaron said. "They will actually be given steps from the ballet, itself, to do."

Aaron said he is hoping to have, at least, 50 males, and 100 females in the cast, to fill several roles, including the pack of wolves, the leopards, and monkeys in the first act, and villagers in the second act. He said he hopes dance students from Clayton County Public Schools' fine arts magnet school program at Mt. Zion High School will audition as well.

The ballet partnered with the magnet program, in the company's production of "The Nutcracker" this fall, Aaron said.

Peterson said the current ballet will be performed on April 18, at the Henry County Schools Performing Arts Center in McDonough, and on May 2, at the Clayton County Public Schools Performing Arts Center.

New classes begin this week

In other business, the Atlanta Festival Ballet has also opened registration for its first-ever offering of fitness classes in Yoga, Zumba, and Pilates, which are beginning this week. The classes are being offered at $56 per month for one class each week.

Peterson said that participants may choose: a Pilates class on either Mondays or Wednesdays, from 9 a.m., to 10 a.m.; a Zumba class on either Mondays or Wednesdays, from 10 to 1 a.m.; or a Yoga class on Wednesdays, starting at 7:30 p.m., or Thursdays, starting at 7 p.m.

Peterson said the idea to provide fitness classes to the public sprang from various discussions among the company's directors and its professional dancers. "A couple of our professional dancers are certified to teach these classes," she said. "It just came about in learning the backgrounds of some of our new professional dancers.

"I think that we all need to be concerned about our health and stress," Peterson added. "It seems like everybody's life is so hectic right now, but we need to carve out a little bit of time to take care of ourselves. I think that these classes are very good for stress, for staying in shape, and for taking care of ourselves."

Peterson noted that the ballet company is also conducting a registration drive for its musical theatre class, which begins today, and will be held each Monday, from 1 to 2 p.m. She said the class, targeting home-schooled youths, will be held throughout the winter, at a cost of $56.

All classes will be held at the Atlanta Festival Ballet company studio. For more information, visit the ballet company's web site, or call (770) 507-2775.

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On the net:

Atlanta Festival Ballet:

www.atlantafestivalballet.com