Instead of college students filling the seats of Edmond chapel, younger versions—children in pigtails and overalls—sat on the edge of their seats and watched the Wheaton Symphony Orchestra and Zoey’s feet perform Peter and the Wolf last Thursday and Friday October 2nd and 3rd. This production marked the Symphony Orchestra’s first performance of the 2014-15 season, performing for over 4,000 children in two children’s concerts, acted out with dancers from Zoey’s feet.
Young students and families from the surrounding Wheaton community are invited to campus for an annual children’s orchestra performance. For many of the students, this may be one of their first exposures to classical music. “It is a culturally enriching experience for them, as well as a nice change up from the traditional classroom context,” explained one teacher from Lowell Elementary School.
Elementary education teachers are notified each year, and the schools arrange transportation for the student’s to take a field trip to the college. The performance happens during chapel time, and is open to the public.
According to public safety officer, Steve Taylor, this performance is a long standing tradition that the Wheaton community looks forward to this performance every year.
Junior Alyssa Williams choreographed the roles using classical ballet. According to Gibson, the choreography left a lot of room for acting and improvisation so that the dancers could better interact with each other and the audience. One element that drew the children in was the closeness of the dancers when the characters danced through the aisles and paraded through the audience.
Narrated bilingually in both English and Spanish by sophomore Stephania Quintero, the play fulfilled a language requirement for children’s elementary education. Although the words were unknown to most students, they still stayed engaged, laughing along at the dancers as they floated across the stage doing arabesques and plies dressed as animals.
Senior Audrey Gibson, a member of Zoe’s feet who dance the part of the Wolf, began practicing several times a week as soon as school began this year. She said her favorite part was “performing in front of the children. They responded with laughter and applause throughout the show, making it more like a conversation than a presentation. They brought us so much joy!”
For college students who attended, such as senior Aaron Rapp, the Spanish language translation enhanced the overall production. “When I first heard about a bilingual narrator, I assumed it was in Russian and English, because the composer was Russian. I suppose Spanish makes a lot more sense. It really fun brushing up on my terrible Spanish. The narrator herself did a lovely job,” said Rapp.
The Symphony Orchestra and Zoe’s Feet also performed as part of Saturday night’s Homecoming Concert. “Several alumni expressed their excitement and support of embracing and expanding the performing arts at Wheaton” remarked Gibson. In total, hundreds of parents and alumni came out to support students and see the story of Peter and the Wolf brought to life.