Arts and Entertainment

A mother reflects: Dancers bring transformed ‘Snow White’ to life on the high school stage

At left is queen Nelle Horsley; Becky Snyder as Snow White is at right. - Kathleen Webster photo
At left is queen Nelle Horsley; Becky Snyder as Snow White is at right.
— image credit: Kathleen Webster photo

By SALLY LEONHARDT

For The Beachcomber

I had an interesting experience this last school year in terms of change.

During the first jazz class of the season, I looked through the Vashon Dance Academy studio window to see my daughter, and I couldn’t find her. The girls were dancing with their backs toward me — I could see Allison, I could see Lili — but I couldn’t find Ellie. Hadn’t I driven her there? Had a quick jaunt to The Little House allowed enough time for her to disappear?

I searched and searched, baffled. When the girls turned to face me, I saw her; she had been there the whole time. I hadn’t recognized her because she had grown so much. I didn’t know the length of her legs, the shape of her body. She had changed so much that, in leotard and tights, she looked like a different person to me.

What else would change with the year?

In December, she announced to her soccer team that she would not return for her eighth season so that she would have more time to focus on her passion — dance. My husband, her coach, instead of cringing in dismay, instead of fighting her on it (for soccer is his passion, absolute), engaged in a most heroic act — he joined the spring production as a dancer-dad to support her.

Change as a concept appeared to me again and again as I observed rehearsals for “Snow White,” this year’s unique and irreverent yet tasteful rendition of the old tale.

It is all about change. Gone are the weird little men. Gone is the prima ballerina awarded with inordinate amounts of stage time. Having 17 talented principal dancers as well as performers of all ages, director Cheryl Krown has once again created a uniquely interpreted and amusing performance, balanced so that all talents are showcased.

Artistic credit also goes to dance teachers and mentors Julie Gibson, Geoff Reiman and Sarah Mercer.

There are many dancers, and they are divided into two casts. (Check with friends and favorite dancers before buying tickets in order to see the right shows.)

Rebecca Snyder and Chelsea Wagner will share the part of Snow White.

Nelle Horsley and Laura Hicks share the role of the Evil Queen, while Emma Strong and Simone Wood portray an evil stepsister. (These roles are played on Friday night/Saturday matinee and Saturday night/Sunday matinee, respectively.)

Other outstanding principals include Lisa Mitchell-York, Anne Dulfer, Aleythea Dolstad, Madeline Osborne, Lizzy Schoen, Carlie-Sue Anderson, Chloe Zimberg, Rachel Taylor, Anna Hicks, Graham Peet and Amelia Wilke. Also in supportive roles are Maria Osborne, Silvia Henley, Audrey Benner and Jarrod Swenson.

All students who attend Vashon Dance Academy are stars, from the tiniest creative movement bunnies through all the levels of ballet, pointe, modern and jazz. Their roles vary from inanimate objects brought to life — a poisoned apple, the evil potion, even feather dusters — to the distinctive characters we know and love, or love to hate: the evil queen, the magic mirror and Snow White’s companions. (Hint: There is no “heigh ho” in this version.)

These are the staples of a Vashon Dance Academy production that will never change, and they enhance the show again this year.

Happily, the dancing dads are back, as the bumbling huntsmen. John “Oz” Osborne, Dave Wilke, Mark Lacina, David Leonhardt and Jim Westcott will grace the stage with fresh energy.

The sets, as interpreted by Jenna Riggs and crew, are superlative.

The costumes, designed and sewn by a team headed by Sharon Schoen, are always amazing. Vashon Dance Academy continues to be fortunate in having Josh Randall as resident wizard in all things magical, including lighting and special effects.

Even if you don’t have a dancer in the show, it is interesting and heartwarming to watch a performance and see how the Islanders in your life grow from year to year.

For our family, the (now recognizable) progression of our daughter’s height and my husband’s courage to venture outside his comfort zone to be in solidarity with her, impress upon me that things never stay the same.

For Vashon Dance Academy’s “Snow White,” change means a better story, livelier characters and a more exciting production than you’ll see in the big cities that surround us. Yes, change can be good, and with “Snow White,” it’s very good.

— Sally Leonhardt is the mother of Ellie Leonhardt, a dancer at

Vashon Dance Academy.

See Snow White

Show times are 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 29; 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 30, and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 31. All performances are in the Vashon High School theater.

Early ticket purchases are suggested. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for those up to 18.

Tickets are available at Books by the Way or at the door.

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