Spotlight On: Trillium Performing Youth

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Skylar Miller with Emily Newton in “Daybreak,” 2012, choreographed by Carli Mareneck
Trillium Performing youth in “Didgeri Don’t,” 2017, choreographed by Carli Mareneck

Many may not be aware that Trillium Performing Arts has a group of young people (13-18 years of age) performing all around the county in schools and nursing homes as well as dancing in state arts festivals.

The group, Trillium Performing Youth (TPY), was started in 1999 by Beth White. White says she started TPY because when she was in high school in Detroit she performed with a dance group in nursing homes and loved the experience.

Current director Carli Mareneck says, “Young dancers work with several teachers and choreographers … the training emphasizes self-expression.” All of the pieces they perform are original work.

When asked about experiences traveling to schools and senior centers, a current member Zenya Walters says, “…getting to see their faces light-up when you dance has always been my favorite part.”

“At the nursing homes, it was fun visiting them (the senior citizens) and just chatting about what they liked about the dance. Everyone is super sweet,” says Hannah Smart. Georgia Foster comments, “At the first elementary school we went to, my heart just ached with joy at all the kids. When we lifted each other into the air the kids all went ‘wow’ and gasped.”

Current TPY members by name and grade are: Alex DeGraff, 8th; Maggie Eggleston, 11th; Georgia Foster, 10th; Sarah Lore, 8th; Daisy McLaughlin, 9th; Hannah Smart, 9th;  Zenya Walters, 8th; and Sallie Wittkamper, 9th.

Many of the performers have expressed interest in continuing dancing once they go to college. It’s been a lot of hard work but they love the experiences they are having.

Several former TPY graduates have moved on to dance professionally. Laura Gorsuch is with RADAR Dance Company in Richmond, VA. Daniel Honaker just graduated from VCU with a degree in dance and choreography. Kelsea Hower is currently working on her degree in dance at WVU. Faith Hunt Levine teaches and dances professionally in Virginia. She received a degree in dance from the University of Utah.

Skylar Miller, a TPY alumnus, has just been selected to show a piece he choreographed (with another student) at the World Dance Alliance Global Summit in St John’s, Newfoundland. He is a student at Beloit College in Wisconsin. Theirs is the only student dance selected for the conference.

TPY will be performing the four pieces they have been touring with and some new works they have created in a showcase on Sunday, Apr. 9 at 3 p.m. at the Lewis Theatre in Lewisburg. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and AmeriCorps, 6 and under are free. For more information call 304-645-3003.