Thumb dancers to perform with the Moscow Ballet

Student Paige Klupp, left, receives instruction from ballet teacher Elizabeth Swoish at Sue’s School of Dance, 131 E. Frank St. With Swoish’s help, eight students have received the chance to dance with the Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. (Photo by John Cook).
Student Paige Klupp, left, receives instruction from ballet teacher Elizabeth Swoish at Sue’s School of Dance, 131 E. Frank St. With Swoish’s help, eight students have received the chance to dance with the Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. (Photo by John Cook).

Youth from a local dance school are gearing up for a performance Thursday with a professional ballet company.

Eight students of Sue’s School of Dance, 131 E. Frank St., Caro, will perform in the Moscow Ballet presentation of the Great Russian Nutcracker Thursday, Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Theater in Saginaw, 203 N. Washington Ave.

Tickets range from $35 to $95.

Local dancers selected to participate in the holiday classic were Kayla Vrable, 9, Caro; Paige Klupp, 13, Marlette; Rachel St. George, 11, Kingston; Emerson Fowler, 10, Millington; Caydence Sturtevant, 12, Caro; Kyla Spencer, 11, Caro; Cassidy Fritz, 11, Elkton and Mikayla Adamczyk, 9, Kingston.

The girls will dance alongside professional dancers from across Europe and Asia in the Moscow Ballet.

Students auditioned for the opportunity because of Elizabeth Swoish, 23.

“I love dance and I have that passion for dance but it boils down to my dancers,” said Swoish about her passion to help students reach their dreams.

Swoish said this is the second year students could audition for and perform in The Moscow Ballet’s The Great Russian Nutcracker. They also auditioned for the movie “The Heart of a Dancer” a faith-based film produced out of Midland, Michigan. More information on the film can be found at http://bit.ly/2gtvMBP.

Swoish has been dancing for 18 years, starting at age six. She has studied all forms of dance including ballet, tap, jazz and gymnastics to name a few and worked at Sue’s for five years. Swoish also received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Northwood University in Midland with hopes of owning a personal dance studio.

She is a board member of the Michigan Dance Council, a statewide nonprofit organization that considers itself the voice for the dance community in Michigan.

Through her work on the board, Swoish said she networked and gained access to opportunities for her students to audition for these roles.

“They’re really hard to find — you’ve kinda gotta know the right people and what to look for; you’ve gotta know what to ask people because it’s not very apparent,” said Swoish, a native of North Branch. “They’re not on a website somewhere where you can just go and look. You’ve gotta know people to get where you wanna be.”

Other girls participate in competitions, or extra performances through the year other than the annual recital. Swoish said her students do more auditioning than anything including trying out in the Grand Rapids area for Michigan scholarship programs.

One of her students received the opportunity to dance at the Carr Center in Detroit from July 18 to 29.

Cassidy Fritz won that scholarship in Detroit and will also play a party guest in the Great Russian Nutcracker in different scenes.

Fritz is one busy girl and Sue’s School of Dance plays a part in her workload.

On Mondays she is in the studio attending classes that include hip hop. Tuesdays are competition days. Wednesdays she has more to work on such as gymnastics and Thursdays jazz, ballet and lyrical dance courses — strong, emotional dancing to express lyrics of a song — and on weekends during the late winter and early spring, she will start comptetion.

Fritz said her favorite part of going to dance is spending time with her friends and learning from Swoish.

“Miss Elizabeth really tries to get us to work as a team and get scholarships,” she said. “She teaches us how dancing and friendship work together as a group and not as an individual. She’s really kind and lovable.”

Being in a large winter production is also an astonishing accomplishment, Fritz added.

“I’m really amazed because I’ve dreamed to be in a big dance like this and to be in a good ballet.”

In regard to teaching, Swoish explained ballet is a dance that is either “black or white.” With Russian ballet, the form of dance she teaches, the movements are intricate and require precision or it’s wrong.

Sometimes students come to dance because it is something they’re trying, Swoish explained, until they realize the dedication involved.

But hard work does pay off, Swoish said, and thankfully she hasn’t had any of her dancers quit. As an instructor she shows them what they are capable of accomplishing.

“With me, I’m so passionate about ballet and I really make sure I know what I’m doing and I make sure my students know what they’re doing,” said Swoish. “And I make sure that they feel confident and they have the tools to succeed and get where they want to be.”

Swoish said she has grown the ballet class at Sue’s School of Dance, starting off with around 40 students upon arrival and increasing the class size two to three times within the last four years, she said. Swoish now has eight ballet classes, ranging from seven to 13 kids, depending on the group.

Brandea Fritz, Cassidy Fritz’s mom, said it’s important for her child to have experiences such as auditioning for a role in a large production and having the opportunity to work together with other dance students. She said she has taken her daughter to the studio for two years and since said her daughter told her she feels most free when she dances.

“It teaches work ethic — working together on time, sacrificing time, but keeping together commitments like church and family,” said Brandea Fritz. “It’s just a fun experience. They take it seriously but they know how to have a good time.”

For more information about the school, contact 989-673-2775 or for information about Temple Theater, call 989-754-7469.

Debanina Seaton is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at debanina@tcadvertiser.com.

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