Celebrating a local Dimension to the art of movement

In her 30 years with The Dance Dimension, feisty dance director Marilyn Byers has rarely missed an opportunity to welcome back her star dancers at Thanksgiving time. One of those rare missed opportunities came last year, when the two-time cancer survivor turned over the responsibility for putting on the show to two of her proteges.

This year, Byers is back and more energetic than ever, as stars of past and present Dance Dimension rosters will be joined by a few "pick up" dancers for a very special one-night-only show this Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Slayton House Theatre.

Last Sunday afternoon, the Wilde Lake Village stage was absolutely buzzing with the energy of young dancers. While a half dozen teen-agers from Dance Dimension were rehearsing their big holiday concert in the studio, kids from the Kinetics Dance Theatre were putting on their own show in the auditorium. Earlier that same day, students from the Patuxent Youth Ballet had gathered for an early "Nutcracker" run-through.

Certainly, Columbia dance lovers and parents of dance students have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.

It's always a treat to watch a rehearsal, and Dance Dimension never ceases to dazzle us with intricate choreography, performed with a clarity and drama rarely seen in such a young group. Comprised mostly of teens and young adults with a serious interest in dance, the company never shies away from serious issues, and expresses those concerns through artful movement.

For example, Byers herself has restaged "Tom O' Bedlam," a poignant piece that deals with mental illness and the homeless. A lighter work, based on the process of making silk, finds dancers wrapped up in layers of cloth. Audiences love the ending, in which the young performers "moonwalk" across their make-believe fabric bridge.

Designated cultural ambassadors for the state of Maryland, this award-winning teen-age dance troupe is planning at least one new tour-de-force number called "Over The Top." As a bonus, two Dance Dimension alumni, both of whom got their early training from Byers here in Columbia, will return as guest artists.

Corinne Imberski is traveling from Michigan, where is she is a member of the Detroit Dance Collective and assistant professor of dance at Hillsdale College. She will perform two solos: "Allemande," to a selection of Bach compositions, and an excerpt from "Dances For Isadora," originally choreographed by Jose Limon.

Erika Surma, the artistic director of Next Reflex Dance Collective in Northern Virginia, will share her talents in a program highlight titled "Idee Fixe," set to "Bella by Barlight" as performed by the Kronos Quartet.

"This has really popped up our level," exudes Byers, obviously proud and thrilled that so many of her students have gone on to professional careers.

Other alumni performers to look for Saturday include Lauren Kovach, a University of Maryland graduate who is pursuing service with the Peace Corps; Morissa O'Guinn, a New York University graduate who works in film and TV production; Kristen Tessmer, who went on to study dance and political science at Kent State University; and Emily Richardson, now working at the National Institute of Health.

The four make up the cast of "The Crow," created by Byers' daughter, Larissa. Rumor has it that other alum may make surprise appearances, as well.

Current Dance Dimension members are Sydney Jackson, a senior at Atholton High School; Kielan Wilcomb, a graduating junior at James Hubert Blake High School in Montgomery County; plus Marina McCaney, Sarah Narcise, Severin Sargent and Genevieve Legowski.

The Dance Dimension performs at the Slayton House Auditorium in the Village of Wilde Lake in Columbia, Saturday, Nov. 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults, $12 for students, alumni and children; they can be purchased at the door. For more information, go to http://www.thedancedimension.com.

Getting the Royale treatment

Director Donna Pidel offers the first glimpse of "The Nutcracker" Friday-Sunday, Nov. 18-20 at her Ballet Royale studio in Columbia. Here is a fine production that showcases young talent.

Tickets are sold out for all three shows, with two separate casts performing Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings. There's always a chance for a cancellation, so call 410-997-8443 or go to balletroyale@verizon.net for updates.