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Aladdin takes the stage at VHS Theatre

Kaia Boonzaier, Allison Spencer, Rachael Thomas, Yarden Blausapp (courtesy photo)
Kaia Boonzaier, Allison Spencer, Rachael Thomas, Yarden Blausapp (courtesy photo)

Aladdin and his host of exotic friends, including Genie, Jeannie, Jasmine, the Wishes and an unruly Flying Carpet take the stage at Vashon High School for a week-end production by the dancers of Vashon Dance Academy, June 27-29. Performances run Friday and Saturday evening at 7:30 PM and Saturday and Sunday matinee at 1:30 PM. Tickets are available at Vashon Bookshop and Pampered Paws; $15 adults, $11 students.

The show is produced by Dance!Vashon and features Eva Cyra and Silvia Henley sharing the role of Jasmine and Rachael Thomas and Charlotte Schoen as Jafara, the traitorous vizier to the Sultan. Besides Thomas, other graduating dancers in the production are Kaia Boonzaier (Snake Charmer), Yarden Blausapp (Emerald), and Allison Spencer (Jeannie).

In addition to the usual parts of the story, this creative production features imaginative characters such as Power, Snakes, Sand Dunes, and an intense Cave Spirit, as well as the bedazzling Rubies, Diamonds and Emeralds …and a Love Potion that saves the day!

Vashon Dance Academy students have worked alongside their teachers to develop original choreography, under the Artistic Direction of Cheryl Krown, Director. Dance teachers Julie Gibson, Erin McEachran, and Ronly Blau have provided important choreography and support.

Says Krown, “I am excited for the audience to enjoy a show that has a mix of romance, conflict, power, friendship, and of course humor. All the dancers have worked so hard this year, from the littlest 4 year olds to our graduating seniors.”

Each year the show is a capstone to years of hard work by the senior dancers. Having danced at VDA since the ages of 4-7, each dancer remembers the evolution of being a tiny dancer on stage and looking up to their older mentors, to being a mentor and appreciating the gifts of the younger dancers.

Says Boonzaier, “Growing up in the VDA community has been an amazing support system for me over the years. It taught me to be comfortable in front of large groups of people, and the responsibility of being part of a production has been a great lesson in how to work cohesively in a large group of people.

“One of my favorite memories is doing the energy circle every year pre-production, where we all link hands and yell and dance and exhaust ourselves until we can barely breathe -- and then we put on a two and a half hour show. Energy circles have always been a lot of fun, and I remember being a little girl and being so excited that I got to hold hands with the older girls and play all the energy circle games with them, so now it’s always fun when I get to do the circle with the little dancers, and pass on the tradition.”

Spencer added, “I have made everlasting friendships that I feel are really special since the people you are with have been with you for your whole dancing career. Also I have gotten to work with lots of little dancers, which has taught me patience and how to work with children. I have also learned that it’s ok to make mistakes and that making them actually helps you grow.”

“Growing up in VDA has taught me to be disciplined, how to manage my time well, and the importance of a close community. One of my best memories as a dancer is being the leader of the Munchkin dance in Wizard of Oz when I was in third grade,” says Blausapp.

The dance corps has been working on the show since February, and the dancers have to balance their dance commitments with other high school demands, particularly challenging for seniors.  “Something that I’ve had to deal with for the past four years is balancing dance rehearsals and being a part of the high school’s tennis team at the same time,” explains Boonzaier. “It really just requires efficient time management, which is another thing that being a part of VDA has definitely taught me.

She adds, “My goal as a dancer is just to have fun with it and always enjoy what I’m doing, I don’t dance because I want to be a professional dancer or anything like that, I just love doing it and it makes me really happy; so as long as that’s happening my goal is fulfilled.”

Thomas agrees that she has gotten more out of her years at the Dance Academy than just dance skills. “I have been dancing since I was 7 and it has helped shape me to the person that I am today by teaching me that if I want something I have to work really hard to get there and to keep working even if it takes longer than I want to reach this goal. My goal as a dancer is to constantly improve and push myself even further in dance once I get to college.”

Gibson and Krown have worked nonstop at the many details of producing a polished show with 130 dancers. Likewise, Producers Tina Shattuck, Tara Vanselow and John “Oz” Osborne have contributed countless hours to managing over hundreds of volunteers, securing props and costumes and ensuring the show will come together by the end of the month.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the audience reaction to all of our dancers’ hard work.  There will be smiles and laughs and hopefully we’ll be able to bring this fairy tale to life for everyone!” summed up Gibson.