10AODA1Alpha & Omega Dance Academy is ending its 12th year with a new kind of Cinderella story. “The Glass Slipper” will incorporate all ages and 10 styles of dance into an end-of-year recital and production with one mantra: “Have courage and be kind.” AODA welcomes the community to the production, which takes place Saturday, June 8, at Huff Concert Hall (formerly known as Reeves Auditorium), Methodist University.

Rachel Choi, who owns the studio and teaches many of the classes there, is also the artistic and productions director for “The Glass Slipper.” She said she wasn’t at first planning to produce a recital based on the Cinderella story. “I didn’t want to do ‘Cinderella’ … because in most versions of the story, they portray Cinderella as maybe a little wishy-washy,” Choi said. “They don’t show her strength. I don’t want to communicate to girls that you need to be this passive person, just waiting for your prince to come. We have a life of our own that we can live before we meet that perfect someone.”

A few “Cinderella” renditions with more inspiring messages, along with instructor Maria Choi, who will portray a stepsister in the recital, swayed Rachel’s opinion. “The 2015 version with Lily James, to me, has a better storyline … which is ‘have courage and be kind,’” Choi said. “She chooses to be a servant and to be kind versus letting someone push her into it. That’s what made me change my mind.”

The students and staff at AODA strive to show kindness, too. “Ever since I’ve gotten here, everybody’s just been so welcoming … and they really do focus on storytelling and having a community here,” said Justin Nolen, who will play the prince.

AODA is one of the only local noncompetitive studios of its size. Instead of competing, the studio focuses on developing artistry in students and telling stories through dance. “I don’t feel any competition with any of my classmates,” said Collette LeFavor, who plays Cinderella in the production. “And I also love that it’s a Christian studio. The prayer before class really gets your mind right.”

Maria commented on the family environment at AODA: “I feel like I know everyone; it’s relational. The students are excited to be here, and I think there’s just a friendly atmosphere that people enjoy being in.”

“The Glass Slipper” begins at 3 p.m., June 8. AODA will have a shorter recital for children ages 3-6 at 10:30 a.m. Tickets can be purchased online for $10, or at the door for $12, and include access to both the morning children’s recital and the afternoon production. Huff Concert Hall is located at 5400 Ramsey St. Children under 6 years old and all AODA students enter free. Doors open 30 minutes before the show.

For more information, call 910-860- 1405 or visit the studio’s website, www.alphaomegadanceacademy.com.

Photo: L to R: Maria and Angel Choi as Stepsisters Olivine and Carnelia; Ashlyn Clark as Stepmother; Collette LeFavor as Cinderella; Ebony Norris as Fairy Godmother; Isabel Beck as Young Cinderella; and Allison Todd as Cinderella’s mother

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