LWW recital

Students with The Dance Arts Center in St. Joseph performed a sneak peek Sunday afternoon of their upcoming rendition of ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.’

The wonders and utter magic of a classic novel are uniquely making their way to dance floors in Northwest Missouri this year.

Students with The Dance Arts Center, 1902 Jules St., performed a special sneak peek Sunday afternoon of their version of the C.S. Lewis favorite, “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.” The three Narnia-themed performances in “Tea With Tumnus” served as the kick-off to the center’s 2020 season, with the full show set to occur over the next few months.

Marla Heeler, the center’s owner and director, said rehearsals every Saturday have been a constant since September. The studio itself has been around for some 35 years, and she’s been at the helm for the past 15 years.

The presentations, Heeler added, are “just to give the kids a professional experience, as far as what it takes to put on the full story ... from the ground floor” while learning ballet techniques. The center had a showing of the famous story two years ago. An all-original production of “The Dark Fairy” was performed in 2019.

There will about 35 dancers in the production, with professionals portraying the characters Aslan and the White Witch. The initial rendition for local audiences depicts Lucy’s first meeting with Tumnus.

“The costumes, the set design, the music, are all original,” said Heeler. “We are just so thrilled to be able to put it together ... But this is told in a little bit more of a unique way ... It’s not even a full ballet.”

It’s not a given that anyone immediately makes the grade to perform such an illustrious tale.

“Our students have to achieve a certain ballet level, in order to even be eligible for the production,” she said. “And then they audition in August.”

Other dances are performed, including tap, contemporary and jazz styles.

“So it’s really a story that’s something for everyone,” Heeler concluded. “It’s just such a timeless story.”

More information about the upcoming performances can be found at thedanceartscenter.com.

Ray Scherer can be reached

at ray.scherer@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.