For six years, former Broadway dancer and frequent Show Palace Dinner Theatre choreographer/dancer John Leggio has produced shows starring students and faculty at his Center for the Performing Arts that rival those by many professional venues and touring companies.
With polished dance routines, dramatic sets, backdrops, props and lighting, plus numerous showy costumes, the sometimes lengthy productions went far beyond usual dance recital fare.
His latest show opens at 7 p.m. today and continues at 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Eleanor Dempsey Performing Arts Center at Bishop McLaughlin High School in Hudson. And it promises to follow in that tradition, even though the show's design is quite different from anything the studio has done before.
“Eclectica is very unique for our studio," Leggio said. "It is much more concert style dance, more contemporary and modern, along with our tap, jazz, hip-hop and ballet that we still are doing, with a more contemporary slant to them.
"We are not sticking to the rules but being very creative and letting the music guide our inspiration."
Instead of elaborate sets, backdrops and props, Leggio has hired Bay Stage Lighting Co. of Tampa to use projectors to throw images that create scenery. Bay Stage is known for its work at Busch Gardens and on architecture in downtown Tampa, as well as at numerous concerts and large events throughout Florida and the United States, Leggio said.
The emphasis will be on the dancers themselves.
"There is no scenery in the show, and one very creative costume idea for each performer, along with Cirque (du Soleil) style makeup design on the face and bodies that will match each costume," Leggio said.
That not only creates a whole new feel to Leggio's show, it also accommodates the current economy.
"This year has been hard on our studio families financially, so we have used the opportunity to be creative and economical at the same time," he said.
The show does have an overall "feel," but it doesn't have a linear story.
"There is not a specific theme to the show, but many different ideas working together that create an eclectic and colorful show for all ages to enjoy," he said.
The nearly 100 dancers are ages 3 through 19 and are from Hernando, Pasco and Citrus counties. In addition, three of the adult faculty members will perform: Leggio, Edwina Nelson and Kathy Krafcik.
Leggio was in the 1993 Broadway revival of My Fair Lady with Richard Chamberlain and was Tumblebrutus in the long-running Broadway production of Cats. He also has been in numerous major touring company productions, on television and at the Show Palace.
Ms. Krafcik was one of 175 young people chosen to attend Broadway dancer Ann Reinking's Broadway Theatre Project in Tampa in 2004 and, since then, has performed in the Show Palace's A Chorus Line, Chicago, Will Rogers Follies, and Anything Goes, among others.
"Many moments in the show are very deep, very spiritual," Leggio said. "I think this is a more mature show than we have done in the past, more thought-provoking, story-lined ideas.
"It has been a nice change for all of the teachers, and I think our students as well, who are taking a more active role in the creative process."