A festive season of color and movement

Dust off the tuxedos, pull out the pearls and get ready to celebrate a new dance season with anniversaries, reunions, holiday performances and a masked ball here in Howard County.

Around this time of year, Kathi Ferguson puts on a seasonal dance show for children and their parents. In the past we have watched dancing ghosts and goblins and a wicked witch who jumped high on her broom. This season, the director of the Howard County Ballet has planned a "Masquerade Ball," complete with waltzes set to Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev, and a vampire scene a la "Phantom of the Opera."


"We wanted to reach out to the community ... again," said Ferguson, who first produced "Masquerade Madness" in 2000. "This show will be bigger and more festive," promises the longtime Ellicott City resident who is overseeing the fundraiser with support from her staff and student choreographers. "We hope to raise money at the ball to send our dancers to Florida over the Christmas holidays."

The Howard County Ballet was recently invited to participate in the televised Orange Bowl halftime show, yet another opportunity to showcase local talent nationwide.


The Howard County Ballet "Masquerade Ball" at the Howard County Center for the Arts Black Box Theater will be held Oct. 6 at 2 p.m. and Oct. 7 at 2 and 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. Go to or call 410-465-9414.

The "Modern Master Class Series," geared for the older goddesses of dance, continues at the Arts Center Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. Auditions for "The Nutcracker" will be held in the HCCA studios Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 8-9. Open to all area dancers, the audition fee is $15. For information and to reserve a space, visit

Septime Webre has invited some devilish characters for the Washington Ballet's "Seduction of the Senses" series that brings "Dracula" to the Kennedy Center Oct. 24-Nov. 4. This wildly theatrical ballet stakes its claim as this Halloween's most thrilling adventure with two favorite Washington Ballet dancers, Luis B. Torres and Maki Onuki as Count Dracula and his lover/victim.

Local dance stars, including wunderkind Brooklyn Mack, add to "L'Amour (Love, Baby)," and Webre's take on Papa Hemingway in the world premiere of "The Sun Also Rises." There's also a children's ballet series plus an option to buy tickets for the Washington Ballet's delightful, Americana version of "The Nutcracker" (with Howard County dancers). Call 202-362-3606 or visit

'Bad Boys' are back

You can bet on some terrific dancing and a bit of mischief when Lithicum-based Bad Boys of Dance return to our area after their world tour. Rasta Thomas, his wife Adrienne Canterna, and a bunch of wild guys push the boundaries of dance with athletic jumps, endless turns, and high kicks galore. The troupe (with roots to Howard County) perform at Montgomery College's Robert E. Perilla Center in Rockville Sept. 14 and 15 at 8 p.m.

Whether they're dancing on the catwalk at NYC Fashion Week or performing at Carnegie Hall with Sir Elton John and Lady Gaga, the Bad Boys of Dance are a hit. Tickets, $30 with discounts for seniors and students, are available at For a close-up look at the Bad Boys, check out their Intensive Workshop at the Best Western Plus and Conference Center in Baltimore on Oct. 7 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To register, visit

Donna Pidel has trained dozens dancers who have gone on to professional careers at her Ballet Royale Institute of Maryland on Red Branch Road in Columbia. A quick look includes Alicia Graf Mack, now dancing with the world famous Alvin Ailey American Dance Company, Michele Weiss and Katie Williams of American Ballet Theater fame, the King siblings — dancing all over the world — and at least one of the Canterna sisters.


To celebrate her achievement in the past 25 years, Pidel will host a gala performance and first student reunion Nov. 23 at 7 p.m.

Alvin Ailey dancer Linda Fisher-Harrell kicks off the Master Class Series Nov. 17, and Alicia Graf-Mack returns on Jan. 12. Also slated for the anniversary season will be a showcase of Ballet Royale students Dec. 8. Join Pidel, who will teach the Alvin Ailey Company when it is on tour in Baltimore and Washington, and Associate Director Jennifer Boothe for an open house Saturday, Sept. 8, from 5-7 p.m. Call 410-997-8443 for more information.

Howard County's Kinetics Dance Theatre's Professional Company will soon celebrate 30 years of entertaining young and old in our community. Dozens of dancers got their start at the Kinetics studios on Pine Orchard Lane in Ellicott City. KDT kicks off its new season at Slayton House, in the Village of Wilde Lake, on Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m. Call 410-480-1686 for information on classes, workshops and upcoming performances.

For more than three decades, Marilyn Byers' award-winning teenage troupe, Dance Dimension, has been based at Slayton House. Note the company's annual Fall Dance Program, held the weekend before Thanksgiving, which features new works by the choreographer and appearances of veteran dancers who got their start in Columbia. Call the village center for details on all dance events at 410-730-3987.

Auditions for 'Nutcracker'

For local dance companies, "Nutcracker" practice already has begun. Arabesque, Columbia's first dance studio, will hold auditions this weekend for the holiday classic, performed at the Jim Rouse Theater in December. This is a three-generation family tradition. Call 410-381-0017.


The Patuxent Youth Ballet, located in the Atholton Shopping Center complex, will perform its "Nutcracker Suite" at the Chesapeake Arts Center Nov. 10. Call 410-992-4084.

L'Etoile/The Russian Ballet Academy of Maryland is holding an open audition for its "Nutcracker" at the Ellicott City Studio on Plum Tree Drive on Sept. 15. The fully-staged production will be danced at Century High School in Carroll County just before Christmas holidays. All students must be registered in advance. Go to

Kimmary Williams and Jacob Rice have recently moved their Central Maryland Youth Ballet to a spacious studio on Berger Road in Columbia. The Open House is this weekend. Auditions for "The Nutcracker" will be held in the new facility Sept. 15. Call 443-472-7772.

Misako Aoki-Oda has no plans for "Nutcracker" this year but will continue her free studio concerts, with a holiday theme, in December. Meanwhile, the director of the Misako Ballet Company, has booked the Jim Rouse Theater for the second installment of "Classical With A Japanese Twist." Misako has been a coach for a couple of the Bad Boys of Dance and pros who visit Columbia to brush up on their ballet. For more details, call 410-884-9690 or visit

Check out Judy Templeton's "Kids Theatrix" at Slayton House. The longtime Columbia singer/dancer/TV personality has made a difference for a lot of folks in Howard County. Call 410-730-3987.

For kids, nothing tops Candlelight Concert's Performing Arts Series for Families at Howard Community College this season. "CandleKids" is a terrific entertainment package as low as $10 for terrific shows, including dance, geared for the school-age child. Visit