Dancing involves more than a series of steps.
Through movement, the dancer brings out a character’s personality and relates to the other characters on-stage.
That’s what Cynthia Kniffin wants people to understand before they attend her dance academy’s presentation of “The Enchanted Forest” and “Themes from Camelot.” The evening will also feature a divertissement.
The production is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the Ernsthausen Performing Arts Center at Norwalk High School.
The show features 130 area boys and girls ranging in age from 4 to 18, who have been rehearsing since January.
They’ve been practicing in order to bring characters such as King Arthur, Lancelot, Gueniverre, fairies and knights to life.
“It’s absolutely a story and they have to develop characters,” said Kniffin, artistic director of the Cynthia Kniffin Dance Academy in uptown Norwalk.
As part of the rehearsal process, she asks students to write descriptive words which fit their characters. Kniffin also asks students to convey those adjectives through body movement and facial expressions.
“That’s when it becomes a rich theatrical experience for the audience,” Kniffin said.
In this production, recorded music will try to enhance that experience, as will lighting and costumes.
Kniffin wrote both “The Enchanted Forest” and “Themes from Camelot.”
The former, an original fairy ballet, takes place in an enchanted forest. It centers on a king and queen who invite fairies to a party in the woods.
“Fairies are all in right now with little kids, so I thought it would be fun to do it,” Kniffin said.
“The Enchanted Forest” should have value for adults as well, she said.
“I think they’ll enjoy it just because it’s a beautiful scene and it is enchanting to see little children doing something well and enjoying themselves,” Kniffin said.
“Scenes from Camelot” is based on the Arthurian legend, and is a tragic version of the story; In Kniffin’s version, Lancelot and Gueniverre betray King Arthur.
“It’s a tale that all of us have known since childhood,” Kniffin said.
“Scenes from Camelot” begins with Arthur’s childhood, when the young boy pulls a sword from a stone with ease — a test only the future, rightful king would perform correctly.
The story then flashes forward years later, when Arthur has gained the throne, and taken Gueniverre as his queen.
The story involves knights as well. In one scene, Arthur instructs the Knights in medieval war skills as part of their training to protect the kingdom.
King Arthur’s knights are portrayed by a group of guys in their teens and 20s who are also known as the “Kniffin Knights.” During the production, they accompany the advanced ballet dancers. Just as King Arthur’s knights help ladies, the Kniffin Knights assist the female dancers.
The Kniffin Knights and other cast members are just some of the individuals who contribute to the production.
“There are so many volunteer parents and friends that help make this production possible,” Kniffin said. “It is just unbelievable how willing family members and friends are to come and sew and build and paint. It’s amazing.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Cynthia Kniffin Dance Academy production
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday
WHERE: Ernsthausen Performing Arts Center
HOW MUCH: $9 for general seating and $20 for reserved seating, which includes a patron listing.