Living dolls take the stage at East Aiken School of the Arts

March 23, 2018

A fairy tale came to life Thursday at East Aiken School of the Arts.

Dancers from the Aiken Civic Ballet performed scenes from “La Boutique Fantasque” for the school’s kindergarten, first- and second-grade students.

The ballet tells the story of a toymaker’s shop in France in the 1860s. At night, the dolls he creates come to life, and the soldier doll and the can-can dancer doll have fallen in love.

When different families – one from America, the other from Russia – buy the dolls, threatening their happiness, the other dolls in the shop come to their rescue to keep them together.

Deedee Vaughters, president of the Aiken Civic Ballet, called “La Boutique Fantasque” part “Pinocchio,” part “Toy Story.”

“It’s about toys that come to life at night and live this life that the shopkeeper and the toymaker have no idea about,” Vaughters said. “It’s a fun story for children.”

Sitting cross-legged on the cafeteria floor, the students watched the dancers warm up and “spot” their places on stage, which is smaller than the stage at the Etherredge Center, where they will perform this weekend.

Then, the children oohed and aahed as the dolls – a Chinese doll twirling a paper parasol, a Scottish doll in a tartan kilt and tam o’shanter and a Russian doll with a tambourine – danced and leaped across the stage.

East Aiken Principal Lisa Fallaw said Aiken Civic Ballet’s performance fits with what students are learning in dance class.

“Every week, our children get to experience dance, and this year, they have learned about ballet,” Fallaw said. “So when they see a plié, the first position, the second position, they understand it, and it really hits home because they have learned it and they have done it. One of our 4K students said to Miss Vaughters, ‘Thank you for me ballerina today.’”

Diane Toole Miller, the artistic director for the Aiken Civic Ballet, said the outreach programs bring the joy of ballet to children.

“Ballet has a beauty all of its own, and I think it’s great to bring a little beauty to life,” she said. “The children are working hard in school, and the beauty of ballet brings a little imagination into their lives.”

The Aiken Civic Ballet will present “La Boutique Fantasque,” or “The Magical Toyshop,” at 7 p.m. March 24 and 2 p.m. March 25 in the USC Aiken Etherredge Center.

Want to go?

WHAT: “La Boutique Fantasque”

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Etherredge Center on the campus of USC Aiken, 471 University Parkway

COST: Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for children.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call 803-641-3305 or visit etherredge.usca.edu