Local dance conservatory to perform in Europe


By Laura Ann Brown Tipps/Staff Writer

On March 22, Linze Rickles McRae and 15 of her Downtown Dance Conservatory students will travel to Europe for a weeklong performance tour of London and France. 

McRae is the artistic director of the conservatory located in downtown Gadsden, which she opened 10 years ago with the help of the Gadsden Cultural Arts Foundation.

The upcoming trip to Europe is the result of a partnership McRae established with a tour company based in England.

“Once they approved us, they sent our press kits to different venues, who then choose to invite us to perform,” said McRae. “So these people liked what they saw and wanted us to come.” 

One of those venues is the Actors Church, or St. Paul’s Church, a centuries-old church in central London. In Paris, the dancers will perform at the park surrounding the Eiffel Tower, the Parc du Champ de Mars. 

“The Actors Church is mostly used as a performance venue for Shakespearean plays, with very few dance groups invited, but they chose us,” said McRae.

Just weeks before their departure date, the conservatory dancers were also invited to perform in Chartres, France. 

The Chartres venue will bring in the local dance community and host a reception for the dancers. McRae was  asked to extend the length of the performance in Chartres. 

In addition to the two pieces McRae had already choreographed for the tour, “Venus in Retrograde” and “Infra,” she added a third piece, “Waltz for Unwinding.” 

In between each piece, while the dancers change, McRae’s husband Ryan will play interludes on his guitar using two original pieces. 

The trip will be a family affair for the McRaes, whose older daughter, 11-year-old Azalea, is among the youngest of the dancers performing on the tour. 

The dancers range in age from 11 to 24, including McRae’s fellow conservatory instructors. 

While on tour, the 15 young ladies will have many opportunities besides dancing in beautiful, world-renowned venues. 

In addition to touring the Royal Opera House, the Eiffel Tower, the palace of Versailles, the Louvre, and Notre Dame Cathedral, the dancers will attend a Sleeping Beauty repertoire intensive at the London headquarters of the Royal Academy of Dance in Battersea.

This is a special place for the conservatory dancers, as it was the location of McRae’s graduation from the Royal Academy of Dance – one of her most extraordinary accomplishments. 

When the McRaes, the conservatory dancers and the 25 parents accompanying them return from Europe, they will proceed with a busy schedule of upcoming spring events. 

VIP  tickets for the local spring performance, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, go on sale April 28. Regular tickets will be available on May 1.

Although preparations for the spring performance are well underway, for now the main buzz in the studio surrounds the European tour.

“We are all very excited about bringing these pieces to historic European venues,” said McRae. “I wanted to do something significant, create something that would be presented well in Europe.” 

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