By Leah Weissman

Pilot staff writer

Dressed in black and covered in glitter face paint, about 30 girls and one boy, ages 3 to 17, took the stage in Muse Theatrix's first dance recital Saturday.

The performance included basic Irish jigs, modern ballet, lyrical dances, cheerleading moves, hip-hop and even martial arts - allowing students to mix improvisation with rehearsed steps.

Since opening in January in Brookings, the nonprofit performance center has already attracted a wide range of youth and adult students interested in dance, gymnastics, theatrics, singing and more.

Hayley McElle, co-owner of Muse Theatrix, said some of the children spent months practicing for the recital - some even choreographing their own dances.

andquot;To have the freedom and self-confidence to create your own expressive dance, translates over to real life,andquot; McElle said. andquot;This is a place where kids can have a creative outlet - where they don't ever have wrong movements and can be free to discover themselves.andquot;

Artistic expression seemed to be the theme at the recital, as dancers told stories through their movements in front of a room packed with parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters.

The andquot;Teeny Fairiesandquot; - children ages 3 to 6 - told the story of fairies waking from a deep sleep and joining in a giant fairy party. Lying on the ground snoring, the 12 young fairies rose to the sound of flute music, and skipped and twirled around the room using basic Irish clogging steps.

The next group, andquot;Wee Fairiesandquot; - ages 7 to 10 - performed a similar dance, then surprised the audience by dancing a humorous mock to the song andquot;Strongerandquot; by pop singer Brittany Spears. Sporting a blond wig and bobbing her head to the audience's laughter, Brookings-Harbor High School freshman Eileen Goodwin and about 10 other dancers moved in unison as they swung their hips and threw their arms in cheerleading fashion.

The second half of the recital was dedicated to older students, ages 13 and up - with McElle even participating in several of the dances.

BHHS graduating senior Sophia Soberon used interpretive movement to draw the room into a world of African workers slaving in a hot field. As the beat of the song picked up, so did the to-and-fro sway of the dancers - representing the middle of the day and the desire to get out of the field and into the shade. As the rhythm slowed, the dancers' movements became sluggish - representing the work finally coming to an end.

To show that inspiration for dance doesn't always have to be serious, BHHS senior Annie Cowan transformed a techno song into a battle scene between mannequins ... who just happen to be martial arts experts. Starting off with jerky gestures, the dancers displayed Matrix-like slow motion movements while using Kung Fu antics in combat.

Finally, Goodwin and Azalea Middle School student Jen Lindley performed their own solo dances. In a dance incorporating modern ballet and lyrical movement, Goodwin exuded struggle and anguish as she fell to the floor and contorted her body. Lindley, on the other hand, used the upbeat rhythm of hip-hop to choreograph her own fast steps, spins and expressive hand motions.

At the end of each performance, the room erupted in applause while mothers and fathers zoomed their camcorders in. Some even had flowers to give their children at the end of the recital.

andquot;I think it went really well,andquot; McElle said. andquot;We had more people come than expected and, now that the kids saw what they got to do and what they can do, they just want to dance more.

andquot;I think next time we'll have more, shorter dances and include more of the students in each dance,andquot; she added.

Muse Theatrix is located at 1240 Chetco Ave., on the back side of the mini-mall. For information about workshops, class schedules, membership, donations or renting out the space, call (541) 251-4027.