Amelia Caldwell has moved up from villager to witch in the four years since Bluegrass Youth Ballet last presented the classic fairy tale Rapunzel.
Since that 2011 show, Caldwell, 17, has gained more confidence in her performance. She says she was nervous the first time because it was one of her first performances en pointe — on the tips of her toes.
"I remember having a conversation with my mom about how I didn't think I was going to do well, and now, I'm just like, 'I got this,'" Caldwell says.
Her favorite part of playing the witch is exploring parts of her personality she had not found before. "I am nothing like Mother Gothel, so I get to be this character that is totally different from who I am," Caldwell says.
Caldwell performs as one of the leads in Saturday's show. Because the company has 168 dancers in the production, there are two casts, allowing for more opportunities in lead roles.
Kate Cox, also 17, is the other dancer playing Mother Gothel. She prefers ballet over other types of dance because of the way she has to carry herself.
"I love being able to hold myself and project this confident sort of persona," Cox says. "I really love this uplifting feeling that ballet gives me."
Cox was really excited when she was cast as Mother Gothel. "I've never played an evil character like this before, and so I was super pumped to know that I'd get to be this crazy person on stage."
Her greatest challenge as the witch, who she describes as "psychopathic," is finding that inner evil and showing a wide array of emotions.
"Sometimes, she's really sweet to Rapunzel, and other times, she's just yelling at her, slapping her, going crazy," Cox says.
It was scary falling off the tower in the death scene at first, she says, but now it's her favorite part of the role.
"Once I got used to it, it became a lot of fun," she says.
The 18-foot tower is a part of the "beautiful scenery" that prompted director Adalhi Aranda to produce Rapunzel a second time.
"It was a fantastic show. ... I wanted to be able to use it again," Aranda says. "It's a story that is perfect for ballet and perfect for children."
Ages of the dancers in Rapunzel range from five to 18. Both of the casts have 125 dancers since some roles are double cast.
Aranda's 12-year-old daughter, Adalhi Corn, is dancing as a villager and a wedding attendant in both shows.
Aranda likes having her daughter involved because even when rehearsing takes all her time and energy, Aranda still gets to spend time with her.
Aranda loves ballet because it is a silent art.
She says, "It helps people explore their imagination in different ways, especially since we are used to such fast speed information."
Aranda likes being able to watch the kids at Bluegrass Youth Ballet grow as dancers. It is why she likes to repeat ballets.
"Most kids will be dancing different roles," Aranda says. "You see the development of their training."