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Get ready to leap into the holidays

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Isabella Taylor, 15, playing Aslan, dances during a rehearsal of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on Nov. 9, 2019, at Allegro School of Dance and Music in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
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Katie Cook has fond memories of viewing a film of "The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe" as a little girl.

"My sisters and I grew up watching the old BBC version of the movie," Cook said. "We had very imaginative play as a result of that."

Now, Cook is putting her imagination to work as choreographer and director of Allegro School of Dance and Music's production of "The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe," which will be presented Nov. 22 and 23 at Lourdes High School.

"I staged this show with another organization in 2007 and I never thought I would do it again," Cook said. "A year ago this little voice said, 'You should do it again.'"

Cook said she has avoided duplicating that 2007 production when designing this year's performances. Having three children of her own opened her eyes to new ways of looking at the story told in C.S. Lewis's book, "The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe."

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"I feel I've been able to capture more," she said.

The production features 85 local dancers, as well as guest dancers Daniel Klinkhammer and Cameron Harris. The show is being presented to celebrate Allegro's 30th anniversary season.

Tryouts were held last May, and the dancers have been rehearsing every weekend this fall. During that time, Cook has returned frequently to Lewis's original work for inspiration. "I've probably read the book six times since May," she said. "The book is so expressive."

Descriptions of costumes and hints for helping to choreograph individual characters can be found in the book, she said.

Cook, who directed Allegro's "Believe! The Polar Express" for the Christmas season of 2015, said "The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe" has become a popular holiday story in part because it connects imaginative characters with the excitement of the season.

"Some of the characters are super warm and inviting," she said. "For me, I love the story and the magic."

The dancers will be accompanied by music from the Royal Shakespeare Company's stage adaptation of the Lewis book.

Allegro's performance schedule requires the dancers to take the stage for three shows on Saturday. Normally, that would be a daunting undertaking.

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"Because this show is a little shorter, we can do it," Cook said. "They've put so much work into this, I'm excited for them that we've given them more opportunities to perform it."

What: "The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe" by Allegro School of Dance and Music

When: 7 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Lourdes High School auditorium, 2800 19th St. NW

Tickets: $20 in advance at allegrodancemusic.com/lww.html. Tickets at the door are $25 for adults, $23 for students.

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