Copper kids perform in Colorado Ballet
Ryan Summerlin February 27, 2009
Ashton and Landon Harris have been studying ballet since before they were 2 years old
By KIMBERLY NICOLETTI
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Ashton and Landon Harris, 11-year-old twins who live at Copper Mountain, began ballet lessons just before they turned 3 years old. Their mother, Beverly, drives them down to Denver four to five times a week for lessons and rehearsals. And now, it’s beginning to pay off.
Today the Colorado Ballet presents the opening of Christopher Wheeldon’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and Ashton will be performing in a starring children’s role as the Changeling. The twins also will dance roles as Mini Pucks. The show runs through March 14.
The Midsummer production features approximately 50 kids from the Academy of Colorado Ballet. The Harris boys have been studying at the academy for eight years. Of all the students at the academy, they have probably been in the most Colorado Ballet productions, including “The Nutcracker,” “Swan Lake” and “Giselle,” said Christin Crampton Day, spokesperson for Colorado Ballet.
In addition, Landon’s interest in ballet has landed him a two-week summer intensive with the American Ballet Theater ” the top ballet academy in the nation ” located in New York City.
Beverly Harris enrolled her boys in ballet early because she wanted them to have options later in life, and she knew starting lessons late isn’t conducive to a professional career in dance. She also gave them piano and violin lessons. In addition to dance, the boys like skiing, but the Saturday and after-school schedule dance lessons provide is most practical for their school schedule, she said.
When Landon talks about his future, he realizes he’s not quite old enough to make such a weighty decision but says he would like to perform lead ballet roles.
“Personally, I like the rhythm and how challenging ballet is,” Landon said. “I’m a person who likes to go hard at things and progress.”
Dancing with his brother, Ashton, on stage calms his nerves and gives him “a boost of confidence,” he said.
Ashton isn’t as passionate about ballet; he prefers the freedom of self-expression that lyrical dance presents, and beyond dance, he’s interested in photography and motion pictures, he said.
“They are just darling boys, and as they are getting older and maturing, they are developing their own unique dancing style,” said Michelle Dolighan-Rodenbeck, director of the Academy of Colorado Ballet. “Landon has more athletic ballet ability, and Ashton has more of a soulful, musical theater, lyrical (style) … They bring a real strength to the ballet world for young boys.”
Beverly Harris, of course, is proud of both of her boys. She enthusiastically tells the story of how Colorado Ballet’s artistic director changed choreography one night during “The Nutcracker” ” a move almost unheard of for an 11-year-old to pull off, she said ” to allow Landon to perform his double tour (a double-rotation jump). He, of course, aced it.
And now that Ashton’s taking a lead role in “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” she’s overjoyed.
“When I saw Ashton dance this past Saturday, it was his first solo. I was in tears,” she said.