Ballet returns to the Overture, featuring piece by teenage choreographer

Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 12:31 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 8, 2021 at 8:40 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The ballet returns to the Overture Center this weekend and one young dancer taking center stage is also the mastermind behind a moving piece.

Dance Wisconsin will perform “Dancing Forward” on Saturday, October 9th at 7 p.m. at the Overture Center for the Arts. This will be the first time in nearly two years these dancers have performed in front of a live audience.

“Last year when things were pretty much shut down we still kept choreographing,” said JoJean Retrum, the artistic director of Dance Wisconsin.

The event will feature not only ballet, but hip-hop fusion and jazz. While the dancers will be masked up, their excitement to be back is sure to shine through.

“I’m just really proud of my dancers for hanging in there, working hard, not giving up, because it would have been so easy to give up,” said Retrum.

16-year-old dancer Ana Velazquez is ready to soak up the spotlight. “I’m so excited. It’s been so long since we’ve been on a stage,” said Velazquez.

She choreographed one of the pieces for Saturday’s performance, which she said is inspired by her biggest passion outside of ballet: addressing climate change.

“The dancers have been doing a really good job with performing and showing their feelings towards climate change and I think when people watch it they really feel like we need to be doing something,” explained Velazquez.

The aspiring professional dancer moved to the Madison area from Plano, Illinois specifically to study dance under Retrum. She now attends school virtually full-time to allow for a more flexible schedule.

“I think dance is so special because the movement can show anything you want it to and when you use your face and your emotion it just transports you to a different world when you watch it,” said Velazquez.

Retrum said another pieces in Saturday’s event is inspired by the pandemic and what it was like for the artists when theatres were shut down. There will be 24 dancers of varying ages.

Dance Wisconsin is also preparing for this year’s performance of The Nutcracker alongside artists from the Joffrey Ballet.

“My school that my mother founded is almost 75 years old and we’ve been doing the Nutcracker now for 44 years,” said Retrum.

She continued to express that “a year without doing the Nutcracker was really, really hard so it’s going to be exciting to bring it back to life.”

Tickets to both events are available on the Overture’s website.

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