Kimball Recital Hall on the UNL campus was the location for Universal Dance Academy’s 22nd annual Spring Recital May 26-27. UDA owners Vivian Ball and Angela Beery and their staff of six instructors presented “The Legend of Moana” a full-length ballet featuring ballet, pointe, acting, musical theatre, and a grand finale including all ballet dancers.
UDA's younger ballet students portrayed characters such as Seashells, Rainbow Rays, Ocean Water, Island Flowers, Lobsters, Monkeys and Dancing Doves. All UDA ballet students are given a special character to make the magic of the ballet come to life. The younger students learn a dance and interact with the main characters, who are advanced ballet dancers at the Academy.
UDA had 14 graduating seniors; 6 played main character roles in the ballet. Main characters included “Moana” danced by Lillian Ball, a junior at Lincoln North Star; “Maui” danced by Matthew Hakel, a senior at Lincoln Southwest; “Heihei” danced by Kelsie Bliss, a senior at Lincoln East; “Gramma Tala” danced by Allison McElroy, a senior at Lincoln Pius X; “Te Fiti” danced by Claire Johnston, a senior at Wahoo High; “Tamatoa” danced by Macy Behrens, a senior at Lincoln High, “Chief Tui” danced by E-Keithmel Wreh, a freshman at Lincoln East; and “Sina” danced by Jennie Hammel, a senior at Lincoln Southeast. Each main character and ballet student took the audience through an array of beautiful emotions as the story of young “Moana’s” life played out on stage. Universal presented two shows of “The Legend of Moana” with a full audience in attendance.
UDA's second act in both recitals included their competition’s production number “The Nightmare Before Christmas” along with jazz, tap, lyrical, and hip hop dances of all ages. A favorite for the audience was the Creative Movement classes featuring UDA's 3- and 4-year-olds who danced to “Dance with Me Tonight”. UDA's tiniest dancers - 2- & 3-year-olds, known as Wee Go Together - danced with their parent or special dance partner to “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile.” Wee Go Together always leaves the audience cheering for the hard work of each tiny dancer.
This year’s Spring Recital gave the audience a taste of all dance genres. It featured a strong flavor of Broadway by including several girls and boys who make up each show. UDA's recitals are brought to life with the help of costume designer Donna Himmelberger, who designed all the main character costumes and all the costumes for “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” The Kimball stage was enhanced with special lighting designed by John Himmelberger, whose special talents gave artistic beauty to enhance the overall performance.
UDA concluded the recital by acknowledging their 14 graduating seniors. Universal owners and instructors are proud to have more than half of their graduating seniors continue with dance performance or education around the country.