Local ballet students adapt children’s book

Abbie Davis as Rabbit and Anna Claire Wilson as Scooter Mouse paint rocks for Miss Mattie in a scene from Rejoice Dance Academy’s ‘Scooter Mouse and Rabbit.’

Those who grew up in Pike, Amite and Walthall counties are probably familiar with two names: Miss Mattie and Scooter Mouse.  

Retired children’s librarian Miss Mattie Rials has been entertaining children with her Scooter Mouse stories for decades, but area kindergarteners are about to encounter Scooter Mouse in a different way.  

The children’s story, “Scooter Mouse and Rabbit,” written by Magnolia resident Alice Rhea Mitchell, is coming to life at local schools in a ballet performed by students at Rejoice Dance Academy.

The academy is a multi-genre dance studio owned and directed by Kristi Draut. The McComb studio showcases two performance companies that have performed at Disney World and in New York on Broadway and Times Square.

The troupe also participated in the portrayal of Mitchell’s story “Scooter Mouse and the Teddy Bears” two years ago. The group travels locally using dance as a way to worship and glorify God.

For the “Scooter Mouse and Rabbit” project, Draut tasked her senior company members with transforming the book into a ballet.

 

The students chose music to accompany each scene, choreographed the dances and cast junior company members into the parts. They have also been responsible for teaching the dances and offering corrections to their younger team members.

The story focuses on young Alexander, who visits the library with his favorite stuffed blue rabbit in tow. He enjoys a lively story hour playing with Miss Mattie and his friends. But Alexander does not realize that his beloved rabbit has fallen out of his backpack and has been left at the library. While Alexander searches frantically for his rabbit at home, the blue rabbit comes to life and enjoys an adventurous night playing in the library, painting rocks and zipping around on a scooter with Scooter Mouse. Alexander returns to the library the next morning, and with the help of Miss Mattie, finds his rabbit hiding behind a potted plant in the children’s section of the library.

The book comes to life in a six-scene ballet performed in front of a backdrop rendition of the actual storybook that will be read to students by Lexi Cook, a senior company member at Rejoice. Between each scene, the narration pauses, and the story comes to life in ballet.

The four main parts of the story will be presented by Elizabeth Wicker as Miss Mattie, Anna Claire Wilson as Scooter Mouse, Abbie Davis as Rabbi and Khloe Boyd as Alex. Junior company members Ana Montalvo, Katie Gaskin and Dacey Shepherd and senior company members Natalie Fleming and Stormy Macon will serve as understudies for the main ballet parts. The remainder of the junior company, including Jalyn Jones, Zander Macon, Aubrea Ann Reynolds, Josiah Robertson, Ember Shepherd, Presley Spinks and Kevin Wicker, will join the junior member understudies in portraying the kids in the library.

The Rejoice students will be taking their show on the road, visiting each kindergarten in Pike County, including Kennedy Elementary, Eva Gordon Lower Elementary with Osyka Elementary, North Pike Elementary and Parklane Academy. In Amite County, they’ll perform at Amite School Center and Amite County Elementary, and they’ll put on a joint performance for all Walthall County kindergartners at the Tylertown Public Library. The performances will take place on the last two Tuesdays and Thursdays of October.

Rejoice returns to the stage for its eighth annual production of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” at 7 p.m. Dec 21 in the Hurst Auditorium of Southwest Mississippi Community College.

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