Must-see teen show

‘It’s not ballet. It’s about you’

The performance

What: "TeenAge WasteLand" by Rochester Dance Company.

When: 7 p.m. March 13; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. March 14; 1 p.m. March 15.

Where: Mayo Civic Center Presentation Hall, 30 Civic Center Drive S.E., Rochester.


Tickets: $12, adults; $10, students; available at the civic center box office and through Ticketmaster at Macy’s, by phone at 252-1010 and online at

By Tom Weber

There was a time when friends had to be begged to come and see "TeenAge WasteLand."

"When I would say ‘Are you going to come?’ they’d say, ‘I don’t want to see ballet,’" said dancer Beatrice Huston, 17, of Mayo High School. "And I’d say, ‘It’s not ballet. It’s about you.’"

That was a few years ago. Now, however, "TeenAge WasteLand," a production of Rochester Dance Company, is regarded by many teens as a must-see.

"I have friends at school who are so excited now to see this because it’s about them," said dancer Kirsten Schowalter, 15, of Mayo High School.

About 60 dancers, accompanied by a soundtrack of hip-hop, rock, pop and jazz music, will present "TeenAge WasteLand" March 13-15 in Mayo Civic Center’s Presentation Hall.


The production, which debuted in 2006, is designed to reflect the reality of teens’ lives. The issues teens face on a daily basis are addressed through music, dance and voice-overs recorded by local teens.

"It talks about making the right choices," said dancer Melanie Jensen, 15, of John Marshall High School.

While taking a break from rehearsing for the show, the three dancers talked about:

• The challenge of dancing in this strenuous production:

"It’s moving extremely quickly from emotion to emotion, from one type of dancing to another," said Beatrice.

• Portraying the typical teen characters of the popular crowd, the nerds, the jocks, the stoners and the regular Joes:

"In a way, you have to find something within yourself to convince the audience who you are," said Melanie, who will train this summer at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School in Canada. "Each of these people is human. It makes you think how unfortunate those stereotypes are."

• What "TeenAge WasteLand" can teach new teens:


"It was all new things I had never heard of before," Kirsten said. "I was living in ‘Kirsten’s bubble.’ It eased me into the teenage world. I knew I was going to make the right choices."

This year’s production includes updated choreography and direction by guest artist Jeremy Plummer; a new focus on how teens communicate through texting and Web sites; and comments from teens on the state of the economy. In that way, said RDC director Ellen Huston, the production continues to reflect its roots.

"The whole show has stemmed from teens and their thoughts," she said.

For information on ticket discounts available through RDC’s "One-Two Step" program, see page 4C.

For more information and to see a video clip, go to

TeenAge WasteLand

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