Farragut youth dancers learn rewards of Go! sacrifice, discipline

Eight Farragut youth dancers ages 12 to 18, combining the skills of classical ballet, contemporary ballet and modern dance, make quite a sacrifice to perform with Go! Contemporary Dance Works.

Many of these young locals will perform in the swashbuckling contemporary ballet “The Bar-barosa, The Tale of the Pirate Anne Bonny,” starting at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 11, and 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 12, in Bijou Theater, downtown Knoxville. 

The story of Anne Bonny, a 16th-century privileged yet rebellious teenager who eventually turned to the seas for the rebellious life as a pirate, will be told through a merging of ballet, modern, aerial, fencing and world cultural dance.

“The Barbarosa” is written by Lisa Hall McKee of Farragut, GO! founder [in 2004] and its artistic director.

“‘The Barbarosa’ is a huge show. It’s theatrical, it’s athletic, it has tons of aerial work in there. It’s innovative, it’s original. There’s not another Barbarosa anywhere. I wrote the script,” McKee, a Farragut High School graduate, said. “But I consider it the dancers as well because we integrate them into the creative process.

“I do market this as a pre-professional show,” McKee added. “I do have professional dancers that are in the show as well.”

Anna Cakes, a 13-year-old Farragut Middle School eighth-grader, is among the Barbarosa cast. “It’s something maybe people don’t know a lot about,” Anna said. “We take a lot of risks by doing things but all the audiences seem to love what we do and the message that comes across.”

Tempe Coker, age 13, is another Barbarosa cast member. “I enjoy it so much because it’s something I’ve never done before,” she said. “I’ve never expressed dance in a way like I have at this studio. It’s very good to know history that I’ve never known before. And it’s very amazing to perform it and it’s just a great production.”

“It is difficult but it is very rewarding,” Tempe added.

Micah McKee, 16, is yet another Farragut cast performer.

“I love doing The Barbarosa because it’s something different, you get to show people what dance is,” Micah said. “A lot of people in Knoxville don’t know what dance is. I want to show people the love that I have for it by doing something new with it.”

“Classical ballet is generally safe and comfortable, sometimes, with people. But with Go! it’s blending contemporary, modern [dance] and ballet all together in something that’s maybe new to people,” Micah added. “It’s generally more expansive and exciting.

Though difficult to master, “It’s a rewarding experience to hear that somebody loves what we do,” Micah said. “It’s a very hard process but it’s very, very satisfying at the end.”

About the cast, “All of us are basically family, we’re together all the time,” Anna said. “We all really care about each other so it’s really fun getting to dance.”

“Go! to me is an incredible opportunity for them because it’s going to make them think out of the box,” Lisa McKee said. “It’s going to make them learn that when they’re on the floor, with choreographers, they have to participate, they have to be engaged, they have to be disciplined, they have to be self-motivated.

“They have to be able to endure the difficulties. ... It’s hours and hours of rehearsal time. To do three minutes of choreography may take up to 10 hours. ... They have to be self-disciplined.”

For more information about “The Barbarosa” or Go!, visit www.gocontemporarydance.com