Movement, magic and a message. Dancers from Ballet Quad Cities tell the tale of The Ugly Duckling at Davenport North High on Thursday morning. And through each step, there's quite a connection.
"They see it on stage, in lights and costumes," said dancer Christina Sahaida. "It resonates much more with them, I think."
Ballet Quad Cities will stage a free family performance at Davenport North High School. It takes place at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 22. A bullying prevention program will follow with Dr. Jennifer Caudle, a Davenport North alum who became Miss Iowa and a physician.
As hundreds of Quad City youngsters absorb it, dancers deliver a performance that's light and poignant at the same time. Themes about rejection and acceptance hit close to home.
"That's mean," said second grader Khamawi Dean, about a sad part of the show.
"It was great," beamed first grader Lauren Groene, after the curtain call.
It's a stage story that has real-life applications.
"We ask them, 'What do you do? Who do you talk to?'" said dancer Calvin Rowe. "They know to talk to a parent or someone at home and someone at school."
That contemporary message is within this classic story. Lessons from the ballet that the young audience takes to heart.
"The children just relate to how sad she is," said Joedy Cook, executive director of Ballet Quad Cities. "They see the rooster just bullying her and being so mean."
Within the elegance and grace, there's an important take on bullying prevention. Reaching kids early can keep this story from repeating on the playground.
"It's important because kids are always supposed to be nice," Lauren said.
"If you won't be nice, they won't be nice back," Khamawi added.
One step at a time, it's an education from art.