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MarLo Dance Studio presents 'Pinocchio'

From left: Nameer El-Kadi, Hadassah Slater and Isaac Wright in the MarLo Dance Studio production of "Pinocchio" opening Saturday, May 11 for five performances. 

BANDON — Senior MarLo dance student Isaac Wright auditioned for and received a full tuition scholarship to American Ballet Theater’s 2019 summer intensive. Wright will be training in ballet, contemporary and partnering full time for three weeks in Irvine, Calif. this July. The experience will culminate with a showcase performance.

In order to pursue dance as a career, Wright completed his GED early from Southwestern Oregon Community College. This fall he plans to enroll both at Lane Community College and Eugene Ballet Academy.

“What I like best about MarLo, was that I was not restricted to one style of dance," Wright said of his 10 years of training with MDS. "When I travel to intensives, I feel well-versed. A lot of the dancers only study ballet, where as I trained equally in ballet, tap, jazz and lyrical. It’s given me an advantage.”

Over Wright's 10 years with MDS, he has danced such feature roles as Nutcracker Prince four times, Prince Florimund in "Sleeping Beauty," "Peter Pan," and Honest John in the upcoming "Pinocchio." When asked what role was his most memorable, he replied, “Charlie, from Pure Imagination, probably because it was my first and I was only 10.”

“Isaac has been a role model to other young boys at the studio of hard work and dedication to excellence," said MDS director Maria Merriam.

MarLo Dance Studio's productions have grown in popularity to the point that the performance for "Pinocchio" will run for two weekends. The spring production will open in time for Mother's Day weekend. Performances are scheduled Saturday, May 11, and Sunday, May 12; and Friday and Saturday, May 17 and 18, with a final performance on Sunday, May 19. Friday and Saturday curtain is at 7 p.m. and Sunday matinees start at 3 p.m. at the Sprague Community Theater, 1202 11th St. SW in Bandon.

A wooden puppet carved from pine, Pinocchio’s only wish was to become a real boy. This beloved story, created by Carlo Collodi, won the hearts of children throughout Europe in 1883, and later through the genius of Disney, was popularized throughout the United States through animation in the 1940’s. For MDS's presentation of the classic tale, the story of Pinocchio will feel nostalgic — but with a few twists. The story has been reset in the 1940s with many of the dance choreography set to the big band sounds of the time period. The wicked gypsy, Stromboli, is portrayed as an Italian mafia character and his tap dancing gang. Follow the hapless dancing Pinocchio on his quest to become a real boy in this charming 90-minute production under the direction of Merriam.

MDS is celebrating its 20th anniversary season of serving the greater Bandon area. The studio's 120 students travel from as far as Powers, Brookings and Coos Bay to be part of Bandon’s unique program that focuses on a solid ballet foundation with jazz, tap, lyrical, hip hop and ballroom genres made available to both youth and adults. As a performing arts school, MDS specializes in not only providing a dance education, but also in giving students an opportunity to express dance theatrically in story productions that are often sold out.

Recently the Coos County Cultural Coalition provided a grant to fund the rental of three backdrops for the scene presentation of "Pinocchio." In addition to the expanded performance run, MDS students and staff will give a free highlights presentation to elementary students at Sprague Theater on May 16.

Advance purchase tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children 12 and younger or at the door $18 for adults and $15 for children. For reserve seating visit www.marlodance.com or call 706-550-1416.

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