Grayling dancers earn spots in world renowned training program
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Two Grayling dancers have earned coveted spots in training programs that youngsters from throughout the world seek to obtain.
Lizzie Kucharek will be attending one three-week session at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, while Anna Tomlinson will take part it two three-week sessions.
Interlochen Center for the Arts was founded in 1928 and is located on Green Lake in Grand Traverse County. Few schools offered music program in the mid-1920s, which prompted the establishment of the center. After taking on debt and weathering the Great Depression, support from musicians, private donors, instrument-makers, and music publishers helped the young organization survive.
Over the years, Interlochen Center for the Arts has gained national and international acclaims. Each year, thousands of artists and arts patrons come to Interlochen to experience world-class educational and cultural opportunities. Students study music, theatre, visual arts, film, creative writing, and dance.
Dancers train for six hours a day, and experience a rigorous curriculum. They also have many opportunities to enjoy presentations in music, theatre, visual art, creative writing and film.
At the end of each three week-session, dancers will participate in a public performance of repertory pieces. Instructors restage choreography or create original works in a variety of styles to showcase the students.
Kucharek, age 13, a seventh grade student at the Grayling Middle School, is the daughter of Chris and Marlana Kucharek. Tomlinson, age 14, an eighth grade home schooled student, is the daughter of Diane and Rob Tomlinson.
Both girls started dancing at an early age.
“I’ve been doing it since I was really little,” Lizzie said.
Both girls are part of the AuSable Dance Center, which is co-owned by Felicia Phillips and Hayley Strohpaul. They have been training there for the last six years. They are also members of the studio’s competitive dance team.
The dancers have trained at the studio under the instruction of Jill St. Germain, of Grayling, who attended the Interlochen Center for the Arts for her high school education.
“If she didn’t come to our studio, we probably wouldn’t have grown as much as we have,” Lizzie said.
St. Germain specializes in acrobatic and circus-style dancing as well as contemporary and modern dancing such as break dancing.
Both girls hope that the summer sessions at the Interlochen Center for the Arts will open up new doors for them as they advance their dancing endeavors.
“I just wanted to try something new, to have more options when I’m older,” Lizzie said.
Anna hopes to showcase her talents on stage and in other venues in the future.
“I just want to perform,” she said.
Lizzie hopes that dancing will offer her the means to broaden her horizons.
“I want to travel and meet new people and take classes,” she said.
Acceptance into the program required personal auditions, as well as the submission of video auditions and resumes.
Dancers from across the world vie for a limited numbered of positions in the training sessions.
“They take 50 kids for the program and they come and audition from all around the world, so it’s not just Michigan,” Marlana Kucharek said. “For two girls from Grayling to get in, it’s a pretty big deal. I’m super proud of both of them, because it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be able to do something like this.”
Although Kucharek and Tomlinson received scholarships from Interlochen, they still have to cover a majority of the cost to attend the programs.
A combined dance and musical performance with Oh Brother Big Sister, which will be held at the Rialto Theater, is in the works. Can drives and bake sales will also be held a fund-raisers.
“We’re looking for community support for sure,” Marlana said.