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Let the downtown dazzle begin

Sahil Garg (left) and Andrew Alday, both 11-year-old pupils at Wilkes-Barre Academy who have demonstrated their piano skills on the floor of Carnegie Hall, will be part of the Downtown DANCES! performances on Saturday at Downtown Arts on North Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre.

Some of those slated to display their dance moves at Downtown Arts this weekend include Bridget Giunta, Julie Mazaleski, Gabriella Randazzo, Angelica Alday, Julia Randazzo, Sonal Garg and choreographer Jared Wootan.

Jared Wootan and Bridget Giunta rehearse for Downtown DANCES!, which goes on stage tomorrow at the Downtown Arts building on North Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre.

DON CAREY/THE TIMES LEADER

Do you like watching contemporary dance? How about hearing modern music on the piano? Or is listening to a dramatic monologue more your thing?

All of the above and other forms of artistic expression can be found in the Downtown Arts building tomorrow at Downtown DANCES!, the start of a new season of performances that dance teacher and organizer Gina Malsky hopes will continue throughout the year.

“We try to get everybody together,” Malsky said, which is why a variety of acts are scheduled beginning at 7 p.m.

For 21-year-old Karlene Yozwiak of Larksville, a student at Without Walls Dance Co. and of Malsky’s at Misericordia, taking the stage tomorrow will let her show off her modern-dance moves, which she’s recently been practicing.

Skilled in ballet, tap and jazz, she’ll do a classical ballet piece choreographed by Malsky and take part in a more contemporary piece put together by New York City choreographer Jared Wootan, along with dancers from the Dance Theatre of Wilkes-Barre, Without Walls Dance Co. and Misericordia University.

“The modern is kind of new to me, so I wanted to expand my knowledge,” Yozwiak, a Misericordia student who considers dance “a way to express personality through movement,” said.

Wootan, 32, has put together a 10-minute contemporary piece with music by Fergie that showcases dancers ages 6 to 26 in solos, duets and in groups.

The piece itself is called “Lidless,” but within that piece, there are five pieces, Wootan explained.

“It’s a mixup as far as the form goes,” he said. “It’s very lively.”

Wootan, a performer for international dance company Momix, has been practicing with the performers for about eight days.

“I feel like they’ve taken it to another level that it definitely wasn’t at when we first started working on it,” he said. “They’ve made it just go from dance steps to something nice and wild.”

“It’s definitely a whole community of artists coming together and putting together a whole show,” he said.

Youngsters like Andrew Alday and Sahil Garg, both 11 and classmates at Wilkes-Barre Academy, plan to wow audiences with their piano skills, just as they’ve wowed audiences at New York City’s Carnegie Hall in the past.

The boys, who began playing piano at young ages and have studied at Wyoming Seminary’s Junior Performing Arts Institute, plan to do solos and duets.

“We do it on the same piano,” Alday explained. “We play a lot of modern but a lot of classical at concerts.”

Visitors will likely hear a range of music, from pieces by Ludwig van Beethoven to more modern Lil Wayne renditions.

One thing’s for sure: They will hear “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay on the piano at some point.

“We’re really excited to show our friends what we can play on the piano,” Alday said.

ArtsYOUniverse executive director Kathleen Godwin has a role in the festivities, too – not in the planning but the execution.

She’ll perform a monologue from a scene in the play “Impassioned Embraces,” by John Pielmeier.

“It’s a very interesting little piece,” she said. “I hope to take them on a little emotional ride – up and down like a rollercoaster.”

The eight-minute rendition showcases Godwin as an actress trying to win a role. “The audience will let me know how I do – whether or not I get the part,” she said.

If you go

What: Downtown DANCES!

Where: Downtown Arts, 47 N. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre

When: 7 p.m. tomorrow

Cost: $20 (free for college students with valid college ID)

More info: 332-7817

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