Classic School of Dance brings legend to life with ‘Mulan’

Mulan, played by Kylie Cranston, dances with village children Morgan Peltier, Charlotte Ziegler, Jaydyn Pegelo, Violet Bell, Lily Bowerman, Kamia Haggart, Cassie Tilston, Pat Tilston, Ainslea Chindemi, Navayah Corbiere and Lynndra Madahbee-Peltier. photos by Robin Burridge

M’CHIGEENG—The Classic School of Dance presented its 21st production this past Sunday ‘Mulan’ to a full house at Manitoulin Secondary School.

“It was great,” said Classic School of Dance Artistic Director Maja Mielonen of Sunday’s performance. “Everything went really well and the production was well received by the audience. We even had a standing ovation.”

Ms. Mielonen said she was ‘very touched’ when her senior students presented her with a gift. “The girls collected point shoes from all the dancers that had danced with me in the past and put them in a circle around a mirror with a beautiful poem on the back that said that I teach more than dance,” said Ms. Mielonen. “It touched my heart.”

Mulan (Kylie Cranston) and friends Kylie Cranston, Delaney Madore, Yohana Ogbamichael, Donnshai Bruleigh, Cassandra Kuntsi, Kieran Harper Hogge, Tierra Abotossaway, Alina Arthurs, Whittier  Dwyer-Gauthier and Maggie Chapman.
Mulan (Kylie Cranston) and friends Kylie Cranston, Delaney Madore, Yohana Ogbamichael, Donnshai Bruleigh, Cassandra Kuntsi, Kieran Harper Hogge, Tierra Abotossaway, Alina Arthurs, Whittier
Dwyer-Gauthier and Maggie Chapman.

Work on the large-scale production began earlier this year with director and choreographer Ms. Mielonen working with the school’s over 50 students on the unique and complex dances that came together with beautiful sets and costumes to create the amazing production that 400 parents and Island community members enjoyed.

The cast ranged from dancers aged 3 to 18, with each dancer an intricate part of the overall production.

Senior dancer Kylie Cranston gracefully danced the role of Mulan, accompanied by Michelle Campbell, Delaney Madore and Yohana Ogbamichael as Mulan’s three best friends. Donnshai Bruleigh played the role of Mulan’s mother, while Cassandra Kuntsi played Mulan’s father.

Kieran Harper Hogge played the matchmaker and Tierra Abotossaway, Alina Arthurs and Whittier Dwyer-Gauthier danced the roles of the dignitaries, while Maggie Chapman played the summons.

Michelle Campbell fiercely danced the role of the Chinese general with Kylie Cranston, Delaney Madore, Yohana Ogbamichael, Cassandra Kuntsi, Kieran Harper Hogge, Tierra Abotosaway, Aline Arthurs, Whittier Dwyer-Gauthier, Maggie Chapman and Donnshai Bruleigh playing the Chinese army and Mulan’s friends.

The enlisted soliders included Mark Kuntsi, Warren Tilston, Guy Nielen, Ryan Kuntsi, Dylan Kuntsi and Pat Tilston.

Enlisted soldiers Warren Tilston, Guy Nielen, Ryan Kuntsi, Dylan Kuntsi and Pat Tilston.
Enlisted soldiers Warren Tilston, Guy Nielen, Ryan Kuntsi, Dylan Kuntsi and Pat Tilston.

Mckenna Barnes, Sonya Jacko-Cywink, Keisha Panton, Lillian Tilston, Jocelyn Kuntsi and Lisa Ermilora danced the parts of the Hunns and happy dancers.

The apricot blossom dancers were Aubrey Lloyd, Grace Tuerk, Tria Panamik-Kastoff, Phoebe Aeschlimann, Nyala O’Connor and Gabriella Forsythe.

The umbrella dancers included Avery Barnes, Violet Aelick, Evalena Mainprize, Sloane Tilston, Dylan Kuntsi, Mya Roy, Mia Cameron, Rylee Purcer and Ryley Wassegijig-Migwans.

The rice planters were danced by Nova Debassige, Amber Brizuela, Lexi Fisher, Jolie Labranche, Payson Bie and Maria Loucks.

The village children included Morgan Peltier, Charlotte Ziegler, Jayden Pegelo, Violet Bell, Lily Bowerman, Kamia Haggart, Cassie Tilston, Pat Tilston, Ainslea Chindemi, Navayah Corbiere and Lynndra Madahbee-Peltier.

Every dancer was perfect in his/her own role (or multiple roles in the case of many of the senior dancers) and demonstrated the commitment and practice that they had put into preparing for the production.

The costumes, music, choreography, sets and lighting all worked together to create the overall success of ‘Mulan.’

Apricot  blossom dancers including Aubrey Lloyd, Grace Tuerk, Ira Panamik-Kastoff, Phoebe Aeschlimann, Nyla O’Connor and Gabriella Forsythe. photo by Yana Bauer
Apricot blossom dancers including Aubrey Lloyd, Grace Tuerk, Ira Panamik-Kastoff, Phoebe Aeschlimann, Nyla O’Connor and Gabriella Forsythe.
photo by Yana Bauer

The beautiful backdrop mural was painted by Madonna Aeschlimann, while the stage sets and behind the scene experts responsible for lights and sound were the hard work of Guy Nielen, Blanche Campbell, Issac Gosse, Kristen Mitchell, Daena Arthurs, Christina Gauthier, Jennifer Tilston, Tracey Chapman, Cassandra Cristo and Kaelyn Moor.

The costumes were created by parents and grandparents, transforming the dancers into their characters.

In addition to last Sunday’s production, the company also performed the show at Lakeview Public School, Central Manitoulin Public School, C.C. McLean Public School and Little Current Public School.

The Classic School of Dance’s 22th season will start in September 2016. To register contact Ms. Mielonen at 705-377-4471. Lessons will be offered in Little Current at Lakeview Public School in M’Chigeeng. Children aged 3 to 5 start with half hour pre-primary class, while full hour ballet classes start at age 5/6 and up.

ABOVE: The full cast gathers at the end of  Sunday’s performance.
ABOVE: The full cast gathers at the end of
Sunday’s performance.
Ribbon dancers Sonya Jacko-Cywink, Keisha Panton, Lillian Tilston, Jocelyn Kuntsi and Lisa Ermilova.
Ribbon dancers Sonya Jacko-Cywink, Keisha Panton, Lillian Tilston, Jocelyn Kuntsi and Lisa Ermilova.
Umbrella dancers Avery Barnes, Violet Aelick, Evalena Mainprinze, Sloane Tilston, Dylan Kuntsi, Mya Roy, Mia Cameron, Rylee Purcer and Ryley Wassegijig-Migwans.
Umbrella dancers Avery Barnes, Violet Aelick, Evalena Mainprinze, Sloane Tilston, Dylan Kuntsi, Mya Roy, Mia Cameron, Rylee Purcer and Ryley Wassegijig-Migwans.