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For Dancers, World's a Stage

Featuring spectacular costumes and splashy dance numbers, Encore Theatrical Arts Project presents "All the World Is a Stage," June 5 at 7 p.m., and June 6 at 3 p.m., at Northern Virginia Community College's Annandale campus.

The show's in the Ernst Community Cultural Center; tickets are $12 seniors and students, and $15 adults. Call 703-222-5511, or buy them at the door.

Choreographed and directed by Raynor van der Merwe, the musical extravaganza follows Kate — Avery Hobbs, a Virginia Run Elementary fifth-grader — who learns about the magic of theater. Professional actors Tina and Dan Delafield show Kate how her imagination can transport her anywhere.

She "visits" many countries, brought vividly to life by Encore's 35 dancers, ages 9-21, and van der Merwe says they've worked really hard and are rarin' to "get out on stage and do their thing."

Brittany Martin, a Stone Middle eighth-grader, said the audience will love "all the excitement and energy of each number and the enthusiasm of the dancers."

Her favorite song is "Ay Caramba" because it's a fast-paced dance with colorful costumes. "This is my second home and a fun place to be," said Martin, who has been with Encore for five years. "We're all like a family."

Westfield High's Lauren Moss, 14, has danced 11 years and especially likes "A Night on the Town" — "a jazz number where we do a whole dance with feather boas." It's set in the Copacabana nightclub, and scenery includes 16-foot palm trees. She loves performing for the audience and is happy that Encore gives her that opportunity.

Abbey Hurlbert, 14, attends St. Timothy and likes the number "Dancing Fool" because it's jazz dancing and she likes the way the choreography captures the music's spirit. "There's a lot of jumps and turns," she said. She loves dancing because it lets her release her energy "in a way that's fun." And when the show's over, she said, "it's great knowing you've done a really good job and the audience enjoyed it."

"AFRICA" is the favorite number of Courtney Moran, 14, of Liberty Middle. It's a different style of dancing with unique movements. A dancer for 12 years, she said van der Merwe taught her that good dancers "act and perform like professionals." She dances 15 hours a week and enjoys expressing herself through performing. Moran said that "you can change people's lives by entertaining them."

Jessica Altman, 18, of Centreville High, has been dancing since age 3 and joined Encore when it began, eight years ago. "Dancing is like an escape," she said. "You let go and free your mind." She said van der Merwe taught her to have self-confidence, and she hopes to someday dance professionally.

Altman loves the show's finale because the dancers portray different characters from the 1940s. "It's a New York street scene," she said. "I'm a painter; there's a sailor, paperboy, ladies in nice outfits, and a variety of older songs, all put together."

College sophomore Lee-Ann Joel, 20, a 2002 Chantilly High grad, hopes to become a dance teacher. She especially likes "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" because it's so difficult. "It's challenging and is so upbeat that, by the end of it, we're out of breath," she explained. "But the harder the dance, the more we can show off our talents."