Stephanie Harper doesn’t believe one art form trumps another. Although she’s a ballet dancer and choreographer who’s also into hip-hop, the company she started six months ago, Harper & I, is dedicated to incorporating both music and art into the mix of classes and performances the company offers.
“I have always enjoyed the arts,” Harper says. “I often found myself going to music shows and museums and choreographing work in my mind based off what I would hear and see…These art forms, along with dance, are very individualistic experiences. Combining these worlds, or exposing them in new ways, will make the experience that much more special and unique, not only for the performers, but for the audience as well.”
Audiences will get a chance to see Harper’s visions in action when Harper & I—in collaboration with Northwest Ballet Theater—presents performances of “La Boutique Fantasque” Dec. 21-22 at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center. The lighthearted ballet veers away from the plethora of holiday-related fare onstage this time of year, and instead focuses on a love story between two can-can dancer dolls in a toy shop and the hijinx that ensue when they’re about to be separated.
“’La Boutique Fantasque’ is a family-friendly performance filled with a lot of silliness,” Harper says. “You will see beautiful dancing and passionate hard work that has paid off. Dancers from ages 3 and up will take the stage, and it is such a treat to see how much they love what they do!”
As part of Harper & I’s mission to collaborate with other artistic entities in their region, Harper and her staff have been working closely with Northwest Ballet to get “La Boutique Fantasque” ready for the stage. In addition to helping in terms of studio space, costumes and props for the show the show, Harper says they’ve also taught classes for one another’s students as well as shared ideas about what they can do both for the community and for their organizations.
Harper says it’s been hard work to get the show performance-ready—especially while continuing to teach classes and make other artistic connections—but notes the growing pains have been worth it.
“The growth of the dancers has been both fun and challenging throughout this performance process,” she says. “The time and commitment that goes into putting a show like this together is something that many don’t realize. But it is worth every single minute, especially during show week when it all comes together. I’ve been so happy since I’ve started the company, and the change in my choreography is apparent to me and others. It’s all just been wonderful.”
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