Stage & Dance

It’s ‘magical to watch.’ Performance to include circus artists, special needs dancers

Lindsey Long and Angelito Anacan rehearse for the Saturday performance. The dance company, headed by Jeana Klevene, features contemporary dance rather than classical ballet.
Lindsey Long and Angelito Anacan rehearse for the Saturday performance. The dance company, headed by Jeana Klevene, features contemporary dance rather than classical ballet.

Jeana Klevene wants dance to be open and accessible.

A former professional ballet dancer, she was drawn to the emotion evoked by contemporary dance, and used her training with the Boston Ballet Company’s adaptive dance program to form Lexington’s Allegro Dance Company, whose newest work “Come Fourth” will be performed Saturday at the Lyric Theatre.

The show celebrates the contemporary dance company’s fourth season with four new works, produced by Klevene and two guest choreographers.

The performance moves through four sections: “Another Level,” which plays with height and physical levels, “What We Leave Behind,” about the ramifications of death, “Not Me,” a response to the #MeToo movement, and the closer “Just for Fun,” a lighthearted end to a more serious performance.

Performers include local dancers, the company’s special needs students and circus performers such as trapeze artists, hanging hoop artists and a globe walker. Klevene was influenced by Cirque du Soleil, she said, but wanted to focus on dance rather than acrobatics.

Dancers with special needs will be featured in the opening dance of the show. Those dancers include some with Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder and physical disabilities.

“It’s pretty magical to watch,” Klevene said of performers with special needs. “Just to see them onstage, just beaming with pride and joy with the audience cheering them on, it’s what it is to be a dancer.”

Angelito Anacan, Gwendolyn Hinkle, Isabelle Hayden and Connor Perry from the Allegro Dance Project demonstrate a section from their upcoming performance. Angela Gervasi

Each of the local dancers is paired with one or two special needs dancers to work with for the rehearsal process

Through its adaptive dance classes and inclusive dance outreach program, Allegro teaches about 300 children and youth with Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder and physical disabilities throughout the school year. Some of those performers are included in the show.

“The outreach kiddos bring a lot of joy to dancing,” said dancer Kate Cox. “It’s a supportive community of the kids, the parents, and all of the artists involved.”

“You form a connection with them,” said dancer Connor Perry. “It’s very special, the bond you have with them.”

Twenty outreach children will join the 17 dancers in the opening number.

Lindsey Long prepares for the Allegro Dance Project’s upcoming show, “Come Fourth.” Angela Gervasi

“Everyone should get to dance, and we want to make sure everyone has that chance,” Klevene said.

The dancers range in age from 13 to 31. Some are returning to perform with the company, including a dancer coming back to Kentucky who has been involved since its first season.

“I’ve seen it grow, it’s unbelievable,” said Tivez Littlejohn, who choreographed his own solo. “It’s cool that I get to come back every summer and see the bond the company’s building.”

The show will also feature six local musicians performing four original pieces and three covers while the dancers are onstage, while most performances feature recorded music. The departure makes it more difficult for dancers to practice, but will be more engaging for the audience. Klevene said her team is up to the challenge.

“We love having the live music. As a dancer, it’s one of the most exciting and most scary thing you ever experience,” she said. “We’re so reliant on the music for our movement, and to have it be live and to not know if it’s going to be there, it really gets the adrenaline pumping.”

Dancers rehearse in the Lyric Theatre before their upcoming showcase, “Come Fourth.” Angela Gervasi

Proceeds from performance ticket sales, plus a silent auction in the lobby before and during the show, will go toward expanding the outreach program to accommodate more children in Fayette and surrounding counties.

“This is a chance for people to experience a new kind of show in Lexington,” Klevene said. “It’s like going to see a dance show, a music concert, and a circus all in one day. And not only are you being entertained for an hour and a half, you’ll also know that you’re supporting a good cause, and just by being here you’re supporting dance inclusion.”

If You Go

“Come Fourth” by Allegro Dance Project

When: 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday July 14

Where: Lyric Theatre, 300 E Third St.

Tickets: $15-20