By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
Ingra Pratt opened her dance studio – Ingra & Co. – in Shinnston just this past year. Classes began in mid- September with over 100 students enrolled. Now it’s time to show the public what they have learned and how they have developed as dancers!
Yes, it’s recital time … but, in this case, showcasing the students has truly become more of a “production” than just a recital! Those who attend will also witness some singing and theater numbers along with dance. And the props and costuming promise to be over the top … certainly something that has never been seen before in this community!
The theme of Ingra & Co.’s first production is “World In Motion”, and students will perform numbers representing many global countries – France, England, Ireland, Germany, Cuba, Egypt, Switzerland, and of course the USA, to name a few.
“There will be about 24 numbers performed and each one has its own country of origin,” Ingra noted. “Needless to say, the sets will change often!”
It has been a successful first year for Ingra & Co. It has also been an enjoyable year, although Ingra confesses that she pushes herself a lot because she is a perfectionist!
“I am very passionate about what I do,” she admitted. “That is good in a way because I want my students to pick up on that and be passionate about dance themselves. However, it also stresses me at times.”
Ingra says that the first few months were spent getting to know her students and allowing her students to get to know her. But she has been no less than amazed by the progress she has seen in her students.
“My youngest student is three years old, and students range in age up to 18,” she stated. “But for some of the younger students, it has been their first time away from mom and they’ve had to grow comfortable with that. Some of them have not yet gone to school so they have had to learn to work together as a group. However, it is shocking the retention that even young minds have and how they have grasped the understanding that dance requires discipline.”
She added, “Being a dance instructor is never dull, and you must be constantly aware of what motivates your students. Teaching is NOT ‘one size fits all’, so it can be challenging at times to adapt to everyone’s needs. But I love what I do and all I do 24/7 is devote myself to being a good teacher. The real progress will be even more evident next year with those students who return.”
Ingra’s student population is not all female! Yes, there are boys taking her classes too, and they will be featured in a Caribbean presentation as pirates. Another performance will be set on a cruise ship, and yet another will showcase the “Sound of Music”.
“Of course I want my students’ families to see how their children have learned fundamental dance and technicality, but I also want this to be something the audience will really enjoy!” she said. “I don’t want dads to cringe when they hear the word ‘recital’! I want them to actually appreciate the experience and be pleased that they have come.”
The opening act of “World In Motion” is set in an airport terminal … with an airplane Ingra made as the backdrop! Costuming for this number will include Pan Am bags, the attendants’ little pill box hats, and dance outfits that appear to be stewardess suits! Those boarding the aircraft will visit many countries as the performances unfold. You can even expect to see some cameo appearances by Elvis and Marilyn Monroe! After the two-hour production (which includes a short intermission), the recital will close in the good ole’ US of A!
Yes, this entertaining production has resulted from MANY hours of advance planning and hard work. Both Ingra and her students and student assistants have devoted much time and effort into cultivating a totally enjoyable stage performance – one that will demand an encore, not a quick escape!
While teaching classes and planning this elaborate end-of-season production, Ingra is still upgrading the building she purchased to house Ingra & Co. Folks can watch it become even better during this process.
“I have worked vigorously to build a solid reputation during this, my first year,” Ingra concluded. “I said from the beginning that I was not in this to make money; I just love what I’m doing and want that to filter through to my students. I purposely limited the number of students I felt I could handle during my first year, but I already have 50 kids waiting to come in next year. I truly have been so blessed at the reception I have received in this community and beyond. Now I want everyone to see and enjoy what these students have learned. I don’t think they’ll be disappointed.”
“World In Motion” will be presented at Lincoln High School’s auditorium this Friday and Saturday, June 10th& 11th with performances beginning at 6:30 p.m. each evening. Tickets are $10 per person. Friday’s seats are almost sold out with a few more left on Saturday evening. Tickets will be available at the door if you did not purchase in advance.