Six high school seniors spent more than 60 years preparing for their grand finale with the Potomac Dance Centre.
"I believe to be on stage is a privilege, you have to pay your dues," said Liliana Andreu, the founder of Potomac Dance Centre who choreographs a ballet for her dancers each spring.
Andreu reserves solo roles for seniors each and every year.
"Everyone talks about it, you train from the beginning for it," said Samantha Reisberg, a senior at Walt Whitman High School, who has been with the company nine years. "It's a huge ordeal, it's all very exciting."
Many of Andreu's dancers have been training at her studio, preparing for their senior role, since they were four or five years old.
THIS YEAR'S SHOW carries even more emotion since the soloists' grand finale will also be their director's grand finale, too. After teaching thousands of Potomac and Bethesda residents, Andreu will retire in June after founding the dance studio 30 years ago.
"Knowing my last show is also her last one is special. We seriously want to make her so proud," said Casey Ruderman, a senior at Wootton High School who has been with Potomac Dance Centre for 13 years.
ALONG WITH 64 other members of the studio's dance ensemble, Ruderman Reisberg and the other four soloists — Erin Antosh, Rachel Dubin, Rebecca Kurz and Rose Kohn — are featured in their upcoming performance of "Masquerade," on May 10, 11, and 12 at Winston Churchill High School.
Following the ballet, the troupe will showcase a tap, jazz and modern dance production.
"We started as early as December picking music. We've worked hard on it," said Eva Freitag, a junior at Stone Ridge who has been with the studio 12 years. Freitag says she trains almost every day, close to 10 hours a week.
"It means a lot, it's our way of showing what we've worked on, what we've achieved. This year's will be one of the best we've ever had," said Freitag, who is a student teacher at the studio helping elementary school dancers in the afternoons.
THE BALLET is set to Tchaikovsky's Serenade for String Orchestra in C Major. Following an intermission, dancers will perform, "United We Dance," including an opening number "Tribute to New York," a tap piece choreographed by Sheri Mendelsohn, a teacher at the studio who is a former Radio City Rockette.
The show closes with a jazz performance of "Synergy," by Marilyn York, who has taught at the studio for more than 23 years.
BROADWAY SINGER Lisa Panagos, a former Potomac resident, plans to come back for this year's recital. Panagos has tried to return for Andreu's recitals each year following her graduation from the studio.
"She took me under her wing, she nurtured my talents, supported and encouraged me. For me, it was my dream from when I was a little kid," said Panagos. "I took it so seriously. I was so excited when I had a solo."