Although it showcases the talents of Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet's students, the "June Series" is much more than a recital. It's more accurate to think of the annual event as a spring repertory program.
Each of the five performances in the series is unique - in total presenting more than 20 different ballets.
"The structure of the program gives the opportunity for choice, because each performance has a different flavor," says Alan Hineline, CPYB's CEO. "It's like seeing a subscription series at the New York City Ballet."
One of those programs - on Friday evening, June 24 - is "Celebrating Hineline!"
Feting 15 years of works by Hineline, also CPYB's internationally known resident choreographer, the program will include a world premiere set to Beethoven's "Diabelli Variations," danced by the youngest students.
"Roseland Pictures," capturing the energy of the Swing era, will be performed to a live, nine-piece jazz ensemble. Lanny Meyers, a six-time Emmy Award winner, arranged the music - of signature tunes by Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller and other Big Band composers.
"We worked together in New York, and Lanny suggested doing something from that era," says Hineline of Meyers, who composed the music for "Sleepy Hollow," a CPYB ballet Hineline choreographed. "He will be at the performance Friday evening."
Hineline has restaged a few of his works for the occasion. These include "To the Eternity," the first ballet he ever choreographed, which will have its CPYB debut during the June Series.
The ballet was created for Darla Hoover, an alumna of CPYB and the New York City Ballet and now a Balanchine repetiteur who works with CPYB.
An "Audience Appreciation Night" offers a special 2-for-1 ticket price Wednesday to kick off the four days of repertory program.
The following night presents a return of "Serenade," danced by CPYB for the first time in five years and featuring 26 dancers.
"This was the first original ballet created by George Balanchine in America," says Hineline. "It was a dance that came to define a new kind of dancer - the American classical dancer."
Saturday there were will two performances of the same program - "Serenade," Sean Lavery's "Twinkliana," Hazel Sabas-Gower's "Green" and Hineline's "San Souci" and "Roseland Pictures."
Among the repertory ballets featured in the June Series are "You May Think" and "Babes in Toyland," choreographed by Marcia Dale Weary, CPYB's founding artistic director; "Childhood Song," by Weary and Melinda Howe, a principal faculty member; "L'lle Enchante" by Howe; "de l'innocence" by Hineline; and additional works by Gennadi Vostrikov.
Another way the June Series diverges from a traditional recital is that dancers may have the opportunity to appear in several ballets.
That is true of Marta Monroy-Kelly, who is performing Balanchine's "Serenade" and "Raymonda Variations," as well as Hineline's "Roseland Pictures" and "Sans Souci," among other works.
That's undaunting to the 15-year-old, who has danced "Hansel and Gretel," "Cinderella," La Source," George Balanchine's "The Nutcracker" and "Swan Lake" at CPYB.
And that is only a partial listing.
Monroy-Kelly, a virtual school student, came to CPYB four years ago at the suggestion of a teacher who had been on staff there.
"I came for a two-week program and stayed," she says. "At first it was very hard, but CPYB demands more dedication."
Monroy-Kelly welcomes the diverse opportunities in the June Series and at the school in general.
"‘Serenade," set to Tchaikowsky's ‘Serenade for Strings,' is gorgeous music," she says. "I'm one of the Russian girls. It needs a lot of stamina, but the music carries you. It's a good kind of tired. The ballet is one of the favorites of what I've learned here."
But Monroy-Kelly has probably "learned the most" from "Roseland Pictures."
"The music is so fun," she comments. "It's completely different - jazz and big band. I recognized a lot of the songs."
Although the steps are jazz, they're still a ballet and require "clear movements," Monroy-Kelly adds. "It was out of my comfort zone, but I learned that you have to let go. I didn't know how to just have fun."
Hineline says it's exciting to watch the impact of his repertory develop over the 15 years he has been associated with CPYB. It is also exciting to watch the young dancers in the company "grow up right in front of our eyes."