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Gotta play // Gotta dance

Benefit piano concert

They are the unsung heroes of the music world, for behind every famous pianist is a good teacher. From 4 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, county piano teachers will perform their annual scholarship fund benefit concert.

They will perform selections from Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Satie, Gillock and other composers. Most of the performances are duets, four-hand or eight-hand, in which four players perform a piece on two pianos.

"It's a lot of people playing all at once, so it's a little off the beaten track," said Ann Waite, the association's past president. "Usually what you see on the concert stage is a solo."

This is the benefit concert's 10th year; it is performed every other year to raise money for the Emeric Lazar Scholarship for music students in high school and college. In alternate years, piano students perform competitively for the prize money.

The scholarship was named after a late local piano teacher whose widow requested scholarship funds in lieu of flowers. From there came the seed money to begin the scholarship.

While the teachers enjoy helping promising students further their studies, they also enjoy the chance to take the stage.

"It's a chance to perform," Waite said. "Usually we're too busy teaching other people how to do it."

If you go

The annual Scholarship Fund Benefit Concert will be presented by 13 members of the Music Teachers' Association of Greater St. Petersburg from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Music Gallery, 6160 Ulmerton Road, Largo. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students, Call 397-6658 or 867-1812 for information.

"Alice in Wonderland'

Tweedledee and Tweedledum _ and a new addition, Tweedledumber _ let loose with a hip-hop flavored modern dance. Tiny girls in tiny black tap shoes keep time in a bubbly undersea fantasy scene.

This is how students of the STEPS School of Dance in Clearwater will interpret the Lewis Carroll classic, Alice in Wonderland, in performances today and Saturday at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center.

Students from age 5 to 18 perform the two-act ballet, which also incorporates jazz, funk and tap.

"It's very entertaining, not like a recital where you sit and watch your children," said STEPS School founder Maureen Gibson. "It has a story. . . . It's all about dance and all types of dance."

The guest artist is Jacob Rice, a soloist with the Miami City Ballet who will dance the role of the Queen of Hearts' cavalier. In his 15-year professional career, he also has performed with the Connecticut Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet. He is looking forward to performing with STEPS students.

"I'm not a dance snob," he said in a telephone interview from his Miami home. "I enjoy dancing with anyone of any age as long as they're serious about it."

Rice, and his wife, Kimmary Williams, choreographed his solo and the production's pas de deux with STEP student Ashley Dick. Rice and Williams have traveled to Clearwater twice to rehearse.

Rice said he accepted Gibson's invitation because he admires her school's accomplishments: Several STEPS students have been accepted into summer dance programs with the New York City Ballet's School of American Ballet, the Boston Conservatory and the Houston Ballet.

STEPS "is one of the best schools I've seen," he said.

If you go

Alice in Wonderland will be performed at 7 p.m. today and Saturday at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center, 324 Pine St. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Call 734-7121.