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Children are in for a treat this coming Saturday as the Warrenton Ballet Company introduces aspiring dancers to the world of ballet.

"Follow the Yellow Brick Road" is a performance geared for young audiences. The length (roughly 45 minutes) and presentation are geared toward children ages 4 to 7 years. Upon arrival, young guests will "follow the yellow brick road" past the forbidden forest to some great adventures, including wand making with Glinda and shopping at the Fun Store for Wizard of Oz-themed novelties, priced between $1 and $5.

When the show starts, young guests will be invited to sit on rainbow mats for an up-close viewing opportunity. (Chairs will also be provided.) The cast will not only perform on the stage,  but on the floor directly in front of the audience as well.

“We understand that young children often need to move around, check in with Mommy or Daddy, or simply change seats … the goal of this performance is to expose young children to the ballet,” said Melissa Yowell from the Ballet Academy of Warrenton.

As a dance teacher, Yowell said she often hears parents and grandparents talk about taking little children to see “The Nutcracker,” but having them become fidgety about half-way through the performance. “While ‘The Nutcracker’ is a fantastic and fun ballet,” she said, “young children simply do not want, nor should they be expected to, sit for an hour and a half.”

The philosophy of the Warrenton Ballet Company, a local nonprofit, is to introduce young children to the fine art of ballet (and tap dancing).

“We hold two performances each year, ‘The Fairytale Tea’ in November and our Storybook performance in April,” said Yowell, adding that previous storylines have included, "Peter and the Wolf" and "Down the Rabbit Hole."

The main roles will be performed by members of The Warrenton Ballet Company, which provides pre-professional dance opportunities for local young dancers ages 12 and up. The smaller roles, such as munchkins, will be played by younger students from Ballet Academy of Warrenton (ages 8 to 12).

“The dancers will not only be performing ballet, but tap and jazz as well, thanks to our fabulous choreographer, Autumn Hoke,” added Yowell.

Following the performance, the young guests will get to take a mini dance lesson with the cast. This will last about 20 minutes. Then it will be time for autograph-signing and photographs with the cast. Each attendee will receive an autograph booklet with the characters’ names.

“Follow the Yellow Brick Road” will be held at the Warrenton Community Center, 430 East Shirley Avenue, on Saturday, April 6. Doors open at 4 p.m. and the performance starts at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 each and will be available at the door. Only cash or check will be accepted.

For more information, contact Melissa Yowell at melissaballet.baw@gmail.com.

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