MADISONVIILLE, Ky. — Although many children today may only know the story of Aurora and Malificent from movies and cartoons, the Children’s Center for Dance Education invites them to attend the ballet this weekend in Madisonville to learn the real story of Sleeping Beauty.

The one hour performance, part of the US Bank Family Specials, begins at 7 p.m. Friday at the Glema Center.

“Typically they do their first performance in Evansville, but this year, we are going to get their season premiere,” said Brad Downall, director of the Glema Mahr Center for the Arts.

Deena Laska-Lewis, ECDE founder and choreographer, said they have partnered with the Glema Center for 20 years.

“Our emphasis is on education, and we are finding that most professional companies are now learning that way. The arts are such an important way of learning, and Kentucky celebrates that,” she said.

The one hour performance, part of the US Bank Family Specials, is appropriate for all ages.

“It is appropriate for children from 2 to 92,” Downall said. “We are having a school days performance in the morning, and also an evening performance.”

Although the school days performances were already set when ECDE offered Sleeping Beauty, Downall said there is still a good sized audience planning to attend.

“I think that dance is such a gap in the curriculum in the school system that teachers really clamor for that,” he said.

Students who attend may also see their classmates as nearly 40 children from the Hopkins County area were chosen to fill spots in the production.

“There are two students in this area who have trained with ECDE and gone on to have careers in dance,” Downall said. “John Cartwright and Holt Walborn have gone on to live in the life of dancers.”

Laska-Lewis said watching local children grow as they have danced with them through the years is always exciting to her.

“I am honored to be part of this partnership,” she said. “It is absolutely wonderful to watch some of these little people grow. Introducing classical music to them at a young age is so important, and no one does it better than Tchaikovsky. The music from the Sleeping Beauty Waltz starts to play, and they realize it has been in every music box they’ve ever heard.”

Teaching arts education in a way that children understand is so important to her, so the ECDE makes it a point to travel and reach out to children who may not otherwise get the experiences.

“So many children who dance with us have used this as a springboard to go on as art administrator and art educators,” she said. “The art educators are the ones that we need even more that the ones who actually go out and do the jumps and turns. They are the ones who go to the state legislature and push for arts education.”

She hopes that by exposing more and more children to ballet, they will learn not only a love for the arts, but also life skills.

“This production is very unique because it is very much a group collaboration that we have teams that work doing costumes, lighting, painting, everyone participates,” she said. “This isn’t just about Sleeping Beauty. That is one thing that makes us highly unique. The dancer who is playing Aurora was a snowflake and a flower in the Nutcracker (last year). She was dancing behind the other girls and now she is dancing in front of them. They learn that you are not a solo act all your life. You are learning to work as a group whether you like them all or not. You just have to work in tandem, and then we’re all beautiful.”Everything in life, you can learn in ballet. Take your turn, pay attention, and you don’t have to like the person next to you, but you do have to stand in line. They are learning to pay attention to the little fine points. They are learning to take care of details. They are the little things that makes all the difference in the world. Dance is a detailed art.”

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