Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Finn in the News

Local talent shines in area Nutcrackers
Academy of Movement and Music provides pool of performers

By STASIA THOMPSONContributing Writer The Wednesday Journal
12/22/08 (Exerpt)
Oak Park and River Forest are considered treasure troves of youthful talent for the local dance scene.

"It's because of the Academy of Movement and Music," said Carla Graham-White, children's ballet master of the Joffrey Ballet, based in Chicago. "The students are well-prepared and top contributors."

Graham-White is in charge of children's auditions for much coveted roles in the Joffrey's "Nutcracker." It's a role she has filled for 13 seasons.
"I look for dancers who are not only technically excellent but also exhibit a love of dancing," she said, noting that 60 percent of those cast will return year after year in ascending roles. "There is a progression and dancers look forward to moving up to roles as they mature."
This year is special for Graham White, a River Forest resident. "My grandson, Ian, is performing," she said. Ian's father, her son, "chose to become an artist rather than a dancer," so she finds it very meaningful to have her grandson follow in her footsteps.
Male dancers are not as common as female.
Red-headed Arabian

One student in particular enjoyed his five minutes of fame before he was even cast in the production, which began Dec. 18 and continues past the New Year. Several TV reporters were on hand during the auditions and captured the spritely, red-haired, freckle-faced boy.
Finn Elsmo, a student at Oak Park's Irving Elementary, specifically told his mother he wasn't sure if he wanted anyone to know he was auditioning for the ballet. The avid Strikers soccer player began dancing just this year.

"He was identified as having some areas needing improvement in school, and dance was recommended as a form of therapy," said his mother, Melissa Elsmo. "So not only do I have the Academy to thank for his interest in dance, but his handwriting has also greatly improved."
Elsmo signed Finn up at the Academy, where his older sister Emma is a dancer. "Finn is in an all-boys class, which he loves," his mother says.

Much to everyone's surprise, Finn's audition was on several news stations that night. "Many people said they saw me on TV when I went to school," said Finn, "but it wasn't really a big deal."

"He is cast as the Arabian doll," his mother said. "A red-haired boy named Finn Elsmo, doesn't that just say Arabian?" she quipped. His red hair is covered by a turban, but there's an upside. "He is one of the shortest dancers, so the turban gives him some extra height."

"I like dancing but I like soccer better," said Finn. "But I would consider being a dancer when I grow up." He thinks dancing is fun and is taking his fame in stride.
"Finn is easy-going," said his mother. "He just goes with the wind."
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