WILKES-BARRE — Ask some budding ballerinas about the characters they portray, and each one can show you what’s special about her respective dwarf.
“Happy,” 9-year-old Macie Centak said, with a grin and a two-thumbs-up signal.
“Grumpy,” 11-year-old Julia Litwin, contorting her face into a funny-yet-angry-looking frown.
“Bashful,” 9-year-old Nina Dunleavy admitted, leaning backward as if she wanted to disappear.
By now you’ve probably guessed that the Seven Dwarfs of fairy-tale fame — plus their friend, Snow White, and all sorts of birds and bunnies of the forest — will be making a local appearance.
Armed with pick-ax props, the dwarfs practiced their “heigh-ho, heigh-ho” march last week in a dance studio at the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center, where students of The Degnan Ballet Center at the Wilkes University Conservatory are preparing for a June 2 and 3 performance of “Snow White” and “Swan Lake Act 2.”
“It’s a very kid-friendly show,” dancer Lauren Youngblood, 12, of Nanticoke, said of “Snow White.”
“I think people’s jaws will drop when they see ‘Swan Lake,’” she added.
Among the many experienced dancers who will appear in both shows is 15-year-old Lauren Patrick, of Mountain Top, who will appear as one of the swans in “Swan Lake,” and as the title character in the children’s ballet.
“Snow White is innocent and happy all the time,” Lauren said. “She’s cheerful and maybe unaware of things going on in the world.”
When a huntsman is getting ready to kill her, Snow White is scared. When a second huntsman protects her and saves her life, she’s grateful. When she gazes into a wishing well and thinks about her future, she’s hopeful.
“It’s a challenge for me to express emotions,” Patrick admitted. “Expressing everything Snow White is feeling is a good experience for me.”
To showcase the talents of two young men, director of dance Kristin Degnan Boonin doubled the number of huntsmen in the traditional story. The one who protects Snow White will be portrayed by Christopher Papciak, of Mountain Top. The less gallant one who is ready to kill her will be portrayed by Patrick’s 14-year-old brother, Edward.
“I pushed him” into taking dance classes, Patrick said. “I told him how much fun it is.”
Of course, the first huntsman wouldn’t try to kill Snow White if her villainous stepmother hadn’t told him to. That evil queen is portrayed by Patrick’s good friend, Aoife Burke.
“It’s an interesting duality for them to have these roles,” Degnan Boonin said.
As “Swan Lake” rehearsals also progress, dancer Rachel Woodich is preparing for her role as Odette, the maiden under a sorcerer’s spell. Guest artist Ruben Suarez will portray Prince Siegfried, and guest artist Julie Degnan will dance a “Swan Lake” variation.
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.