NEDT seniors take their final bows
High school seniors Birna Gustafsson, Emilie Kushner, Laura McLaughlin and Sarah Sprole, students of the New England Dance Theater and New England Academy of Dance, will dance principal roles in this year's spring production entitled "Ballet Through the Ages."
The annual show takes place on Saturday, June 15, and Sunday, June 16, at New Canaan High School.
"We're so excited for audiences to take the journey with us and see the girls dancing new original choreography," said Ginna Ortiz, artistic director. "It's a beautiful show and not to be missed."
Gustaffson, who attends NCHS, has been taking classes at the NEAD since she was 3 years old. This spring, she stars in a contemporary repertoire as well a classical piece.
"I will definitely keep taking classes in the future," she said, "because dance is an escape from the stress. I'm looking forward to the upcoming show because it's my last one with NEAD. It seems like a major milestone to graduate from the academy, and I'll miss it."
Kushner, also a student at NCHS, also has been dancing at the academy since the age of 3. In her final performance with the NEDT, she will be dancing in Suffragettes, Belo Monte and as a soloist in Pas de Quatre.
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"While my journey with NEAD is coming to a close," she said, "I hope to continue dancing with the Vanderbilt Dance Program." Dancing with Ginna and Frances Ortiz, artistic director, and Ted Thomas, associate director, "has taught me so much more than just ballet. They have taught me discipline and life lessons I will forever cherish," she said.
Sprole, who attends Wilton High school, has been doing ballet for 15 years and has been at NEAD for 10 years. In her final performance with the NEDT, she will be performing as a soloist in Pas de Quatre, contemporary pieces and a soloist is Suffragettes.
"Looking back on my experiences at NEAD," she said, "all I think about is the fact that I will be leaving my home. I think of the studio as a second home and the dancers and directors as part of my family. I am sad to be leaving such a remarkable place; I learned so much about myself while dancing here. I am so thankful for all of the experiences I had. I have made lifelong friends with my fellow company members. I know that NEAD has left a mark on my life and I hope I have left a mark on the other dancers' and directors' lives, as well."
Sprole plans to continue dance at Northeastern next year.
McLaughlin, from New Canaan and a student at the School of the Holy Child in Rye, N.Y., has been dancing at NEAD dancing since she was 5. In her final performances, she will be dancing in Suffragettes and in Tango as a soloist.
"For the past 12 years I have gone to two schools," she said, "one school taught me how to read and write and the other taught me an art form that uses highly disciplined technical skills to achieve transcendence on a stage. One school took me on fields trips to Ellis Island, the other took me to the land of the sweets when I performed in `The Nutcracker.' It was in the latter that I learned both real life skills such as working in a group and quickly processing information, as well as more than an appreciation, a love, for dance that will last a lifetime."
Frances Ortiz added, "I am so proud of our girls' accomplishments. They rank as some of the highest achievers in our community, on stage and off. The endless perseverance they have showed over the years will no doubt make them successful in any field they choose."