Talents merge at Youth Movements

Abbott's love of her work is evident in conversation. She notes how fortunate she has been to merge her interests -- as well as her educational background -- in elementary education and dance. In addition to running the School for Creative Arts in Averill Park, she visits local schools and teaches creative arts classes.

"It's basically taking all the arts and using them to teach the academics," she said.

When Cumming called her about taking part in the Youth Movement Festival, she jumped at the chance.

"I thought this would be a wonderful collaboration," she said. "He's extremely talented."

Not many people have collaborated on "La Boate Joujoux" before, particularly a children's version. Both Abbott and Cumming said that as far as they can tell, this is one of the first times the ballet will be performed by children, despite having been written in 1913.

"It's amazing that it's been kind of a neglected piece," Cumming said.

The ballet tells the story of a cardboard soldier who falls in love with a doll and is later wounded fighting for her affections. The doll nurses him back to health, and, in Debussy's words, "everything turns out for the best."

About 25 of Abbott's students will perform the ballet. She said that she has as many as 75 enrolled in her classes, but not everyone could take part because the school is also preparing for its annual performance of "The Nutcracker." Those who will be on stage at UAlbany range from about 4 to 12, she said.

"It's really a treat for my students to be dancing to live music," she said.

She also thinks the performance will be a treat for children in the audience.

"I think it's special to see children their own age," she said. "They can relate."

Cumming noted that the performance will be complemented by illustrations that will be projected before the performance. The idea, he said, is not to "dumb it down," but to make some concessions to keep children's interests

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