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Pictou County dancers performing show in honour of late choreographer

Ashlei Ballet School students rehearse for a ballet production on Saturday.
Ashlei Ballet School students rehearse for a ballet production on Saturday.

Students of Ashlei Ballet School and the Northumberland Youth Ballet will be honouring dancer and choreographer Kennet Oberly, who died in January from ALS, during a performance Saturday.

Artistic director and instructor Janet Bradbury said the presentation is a little different from previous productions they’ve done, a collection of shorter ballets rather than one story.

Artistic director and instructor Janet Bradbury said the presentation is a little different from previous productions they’ve done, a collection of shorter ballets rather than one story.

“It’s a chance for them to perform and a bit of a tribute to him and the work he did with the students here…” she said, noting Oberly, who had a distinguished career, has been visiting the area to work with local students once or twice a year from 2009 to 2013.

Bradbury met the U.S.-based teacher while he was doing an open workshop in Halifax, bringing three students to it. She said he noticed their talent and asked where they were from, prompting them to keep in touch after that.

He fell in love with the area, Bradbury said, spending anywhere from one to three weeks during his visits.

Oberly has danced with the Boston Ballet, the Houston Ballet, the Tulsa Ballet Theater and Tivoli Pantomime Theater in Denmark, to name a few of his accomplishments.

“It was kind of amazing for someone who worked with professional to not just be willing, but enthusiastic about working with young people.”

Bradbury said the students gained not just technical skills, but also a lot of knowledge about the process of choreography.

“Each individual little part comes together to make a whole. And it’s about the impression it gives the audience when everyone does their part and works together.”

The short ballets that will be performed Saturday were choreographed for Ashlei Ballet School students, one of whom has never been performed.

Titled Sunrise, it was created in the summer of 2012 and is an “abstract ballet,” Bradbury said, adding that it’s about the visual interpretation of music.

“It really challenges the dancers,” she said, elaborating that the piece is artistically and technically demanding.

The other ballets include a piece about a group of girls who are trying to stay out of trouble but keep getting into it, and an exploration of how a relationship changes as two friends grow from childhood to adulthood.

The production, taking place at the deCoste Centre at 7 pm., includes 18 dancers.

Tickets are $10 for children and $15 for adults. They’re available in advance and at the door.

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