Sleeping Beauty Awakens

The show will go on with a full audience

Courtesy of Autumn Jones

Sophomores Shilah Pless and Autumn Jones are joined by freshman Jade Van Lennep and junior Greanly Phillips during rehearsal for Sleeping Beauty. The show goes on at Peak Academy June 5 & 6. Tickets are available at:

Students at Peak Academy of Dance have been working on the Petipa-Tchaikovsky ballet Sleeping Beauty since June of 2020.  The show was originally scheduled to run in February, to coincide with the world ‘waking back up’ after covid, as well as to have it at a different time than so many other performances so that the dancers wouldn’t have to deal with having shows and rehearsals every day in late May.  However, covid scares at the studio, mask mandate changes, and different Jeffco covid safety levels ended up moving the show to March, then April, and eventually to the first weekend of June.  

The Sleeping Beauty cast members were told that between all four shows, each dancer was allowed four audience members, to keep the audience consistently below a certain number.  However, after Jeffco moved to the clear level, studio owner Danielle Heller made the decision to have a full audience for the show.  The audience at Peak seats 91 at full capacity, and dancers have been told that they may now have more people purchase tickets.  While that is a large number, a lot of the cast feels like it’s okay.

“I do feel like it’s safe as long as we clean all of the chairs in between every show and everyone wears their mask correctly and especially since as far as I know, most of the audience or many of the audience members will be vaccinated,” sophomore Shilah Pless said.  

Pless is not the only one who thinks that vaccinations are helping the chances of a safe show.  Sleeping Beauty will be the first dance performance ever for sophomore Roch Sparks.  He is nervous about having a large audience, but also considers it to be safe.  

“By the time we do the shows I think it will be safe enough with the vaccines coming out super quickly and we’re going down in the age group, so that’s nice too,” Sparks said. 

Having an audience is essential to a performance like this because a lot of dancers channel their energy from the audience.  There’s a big difference between dancing for a camera and dancing for a friend or family member.

“It makes me a lot happier because I know I’m dancing for someone,” freshman Cassidy Martin said.  “There’s definitely a big difference between an audience and no audience because with no audience, I am just dancing for the camera, whereas with an audience I usually have someone there for me so I have a reason to dance.”

Although mask-wearing rules may be relaxing in places, the audience will remain masked, so that it is safer to have a full room.  

While wearing a mask is not a comfortable way to dance, the cast members will remain masked.  There is a small possibility of vaccinated soloists being allowed to perform their solos without masks, but as of right now, that is not happening.  While dancers would be very happy to dance without masks, some of them think it would be difficult to control their faces without masks.  If you talk to yourself or unintentionally make faces under your mask when you’re running or doing something active, you might know how they feel.  

“We have been dancing with masks for a year so it’s going to feel very weird with the facial expressions that we have to show,” freshman Jade Van Lennep said.   

Covid has provided a lengthy list of obstacles for the Conifer community.  Navigating through the pandemic has caused a lot of changes in the way artistic individuals and businesses do things.  Van Lennep is thinking that in the fall Peak will be returning to no masks, and the studio community will grow again.  Some of the dancers see having a full audience for Sleeping Beauty as the first step towards more regular shows and a more regular dancing environment.  

“I am very excited to perform for an audience again,”  said Pless.


Update:  Due to complications with this second COVID-19 vaccination, Roch Sparks was unable to continue rehearsals and will be replaced in the upcoming show by Lucian Johnson.