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Yellow brick road leads to Thailand

Stoneleigh-Burnham dancers, musicians participate in international festival

Claire Lane of Greenfield and Sophia Orellana of Bernardston re-enact an iconic moment from the 1938 movie version of L. Frank Baum’s classic novel, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” on Friday. The dance piece, which Stoneleigh-Burnham students will be taking to the Surin International Folklore Festival, manages to convey the entire story in an action-packed 20 minutes of dance. 
Recorder/Trish Crapo

Claire Lane of Greenfield and Sophia Orellana of Bernardston re-enact an iconic moment from the 1938 movie version of L. Frank Baum’s classic novel, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” on Friday. The dance piece, which Stoneleigh-Burnham students will be taking to the Surin International Folklore Festival, manages to convey the entire story in an action-packed 20 minutes of dance. Recorder/Trish Crapo

GREENFIELD — A group of 18 dancers and musicians from Stoneleigh-Burnham School, including seven from Franklin County, will represent the United States in an international festival in Thailand this week.

The students will be performing a 20-minute dance and music routine, which tells the story of “The Wizard of Oz,” as a part of the Surin International Folklore Festival. They’ll perform nine times over a period of 10 days — both on a university campus stage and out in the countryside, where they’ll meet fellow artists from 19 other countries.

“They’re really going to discover what it’s like to be performing artists on tour,” said Ann Sorvino, a dance instructor who chairs the school’s performing arts department. They’ll play in 90-degree heat, travel to locations hours away and play under bright lights in packed outdoor stadiums.

The festival’s theme this year is folktales, said Sorvino, who built a dance performance around American author L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” tales. The story is often considered an allegory for economic and social events in America in the 1890s, she said.

Student musicians and vocalists, under the direction of music teacher Greg Snedeker, will play a series of songs tangentially related to the story. The list includes a song from the play “Wicked,” the country song “Tornado” and the Muppets tune “Bein’ Green,” a reference to the green-skinned antagonist of the story.

Sorvino and Snedeker attended the festival two years ago with another adult performer. When festival organizers invited Sorvino back this year, she asked if she could bring along students, as well.

Claire Lane, a 10th-grader from Greenfield, said she can barely contain her excitement in the days leading up to the group’s departure today.

“This is my first time out of the country and I can’t wait to meet so many people from around the world,” she said. “I am excited to live the life of a professional dancer, and even have an opportunity that some professional dancers never get to experience.”

Students had to pay for their own flights but otherwise will have no real expenses during the trip, said Sorvino. The group will travel for over 24 hours from Massachusetts to the site of the festival.

Festival organizers provide free lodging for performers. They also serve meals, and Sorvino gave rave reviews of the food she had there two years ago.

Though they’ll be keeping a busy schedule, Sorvino wants to introduce the students to Thai culture.

The group plans to visit a Buddhist wat, which is a type of temple, and witness silk production. They also may ride elephants in an area of the country where the animal is prevalent.

Other Franklin County students attending the trip: Jordan Albers of Shelburne Falls; Sophie Hathaway of Greenfield; Mary Mason of Whately; Sophia Orellana of Bernardston; Grace Powers of Northfield; and Victoria Subritzky-Katz of Orange.

You can reach Chris Shores at: cshores@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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