Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 1, 2013

All in the family

BY MARTA HEPLER DRAHOS mdrahos@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Titan Alec Coolman is as comfortable on the stage as he is on the playing field.

The 6-foot-3-inch offensive lineman will dance the role of Prince Charming in a local ballet production of “Snow White.” Playing opposite him as Snow White: his 5-foot-10-inch sister, Olivia Coolman.

The pair star in one of two Dance Center Youth Ensemble performances of the original ballet Nov. 9 at Milliken Auditorium. They’ll dance different roles for the other performance of the double-cast production.

“At first I was a little nervous and everybody was saying, ‘Oh, you’re dancing with your brother, that must feel weird,’” said Olivia, a freshman at Traverse City West Senior High. “But we’ve always been really close. It makes it easier that we have that because in dance, if you have to hug a partner you don’t know, it’s awkward. It doesn’t flow and it doesn’t feel real like a ballet should.

“You definitely have to have some kind of chemistry with your partner because if you don’t feel somewhat of it, it doesn’t come across to the audience,” she said.

The 13-year-old ballerina should know. She’s been dancing locally for eight years and studied in New York this summer at the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet started by the longtime American Ballet Theater star.

Alec, 17, took to the dance floor two years ago and discovered a natural ability for lifting and partnering.

“My mom and my sister talked me into taking a ballroom class and I liked it,” said the senior, who plays lacrosse in addition to football for TC West. “It was a good time.”

He said the training has made him more agile and lighter on his feet, traits that come in handy on the playing field. And there are other perks, too.

“Hanging around with a bunch of women or hanging around with a bunch of guys: which would you rather do?” he asks teammates who tease him.

Sarah Parshall, Dance Center Youth Ensemble ballet mistress, said it isn’t uncommon for athletes to turn to dance to improve their performance.

“Alec is one of several football players who take dance for strength and coordination,” she said. “I think when people actually watch a ballet and see all the strength and coordination and power they have to have to lift the girls and move them on the stage, they realize it’s not all tutus.”

The brother and sister are among 35 students from The Dance Center who will perform in “Snow White,” set to music from “Snow White and the Huntsmen,” “Snow White on Ice” and other versions of the popular fairytale. Parshall said the production she helped choreograph is similar to the Disney movie original, but with its own twist, including young woodsmen and a dancing magic mirror.

As for that romantic moment when Prince Charming awakens a poisoned Snow White, “We’re still working on that kiss,” Parshall said. “Right now it’s a peck on the forehead.”

Performances are at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors 55 and older, and $10 for children 18 and younger. To reserve, call The Dance Center at 947-6820.