Arts & Entertainment Editor hile the thoughts of most kids this spring are on finishing school and getting started
on summer vacation, an army of students at Dance in the Rockies are preparing to put a year's work on display in just
That's not to say the school's 21st annual Spring Recital is the only time the dancers get to show their stuff; but
with 270 performers of all ages (as in 3 years old to 50-something), it's by far the dance group's biggest production.
And playing to an almost-always sold-out Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, it's also one of the biggest
venues the students will see. Not that that matters to these seasoned vets.
Once you're out there you're just so concentrated on dancing you just forget (the audience) is there. We've done so
much practice, it's like motor memory," said 13-year-old Sophie Hickcox, who's finishing her fourth year under the
tutelage of Dance in the Rockies founder Toni McClanahan and her stable of instructors.
The spring performance season, which represents a solid nine months of five- to 10-hour weeks of learning and practice
for the students, began in March when the school's 54-member competition team put on its Team Showcase as a warm-up for
a competition in Phoenix in June. Since then, there was an April 10 all-school ballet recital at the Concert Hall and a
competition team trip to Albuquerque, where the team took home the award for Most Versatile Studio at the Cathy Roe
Ultimate Dance Competition.
The team also scored one of three judges' awards for its hip-hop segment from a pool of 385 competing numbers, and
13-year-old Franklin Wickstrom brought home the trophy for Mr. Teen Ultimate Dance."
He is a natural showman: You don't ever get nervous," McClanahan told Wickstrom during a group interview earlier this
week in the Herald offices - and the youngster agreed.
I love it. I feel free once I get out there and it's just me against the stage," said the acrobatic and versatile
dancer, who dabbles in jazz, tap, hip-hop and musical theater.
He'll star alongside Dance Dad" Bill Bowlby in the hip-hop number Generation Gap" this weekend. The duo will be a
highlight of the recital.
He only pulled his shoulder once," McClanahan joked of Bowlby, who will be upstaged more than once by his daughters
Sara and Katy, the latter of whom will spend eight weeks in New York this summer with the Joffrey Ballet before
starting her senior year at Durango High School next fall.
A wide range of dance styles is typical of Rockies students and also defines the weekend's program. The styles listed
on Wickstrom's résumé, in addition to lyrical dance, will make up the bulk of the show's 40 or so numbers, although
ballet will be noticeably underrepresented because it had its own night in April.
After 21 years, McClanahan has the most established dance company in town, and there are no signs that she or the
school has any plans to stop anytime soon. Not the least of motivating factors is her own daughter, Mikayla, who has
been in the program since she was 3, and now at 13 is a 10-year veteran with her best years ahead of her.
I'm always excited to perform," Mikayla said.
We have bad days sometimes, but it's never like I don't want to do it anymore."