Allegro On ‘Venti’ Tour

Allegro Dance Company of Wheeling has embarked upon its 20th anniversary tour called “Venti,” which means 20 in Italian.

Director Anna Pishner Harsh formed Allegro as a professional touring company of young men and women from the tri-state area. The troupe fuses traditional Italian dance with other dance styles.

Reflecting on the dancers’ experiences, Harsh said, “Over the 20 years, they have toured throughout the United States and Italy performing for festivals, concerts halls, universities and other cultural celebrations.” Allegro has had more than 150 members throughout the years, she added. The “Venti” performance features a variety of styles of dance from traditional Italian dances to jazz and modern, the director said.

Allegro, which began its tour at Wheeling Jesuit University in April, will perform at the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival in Wheeling at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 27, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 28.

Harsh commented, “This is a special landmark in time for the company. I am so blessed and thankful that I can share my heritage and passion for dance with so many people. ‘Venti’ is filled with energy and fun for the whole family.”

Continuing on the dance beat, Ryan Lenkey, 13, of Wheeling continues to excel as a member of the Pittsburgh Youth Ballet company.

Lenkey is attending the Summer Intensive at the School of American Ballet, said to be one of the finest schools for ballet world-wide. Lenkey, who was a finalist at the Youth America Grand Prix Indianapolis semi-finals and the New York City finals, has already danced as a leading soloist with the New York City Ballet during one of its summer seasons in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He appeared in the “Mandolin Dance” section of “Romeo and Juliet” and was given his own special bow during the performance.

The Wheeling dancer has performed many roles for Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, including Peter in “Peter and the Wolf” and the Prince and the White Soldier in “The Nutcracker.” Lenkey is part of an early release program that allows more time to train at Pittsburgh Youth Ballet during the week.

Pittsburgh Youth Ballet is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

Author and teacher Joseph A. Comm presented a book talk and slide show about Rock Springs Park in the Archives and History Library at the Culture Center in Charleston Tuesday, July 2.

Using dozens of images, Comm discussed the history of the now-defunct amusement park that operated from 1897 to 1970 in Chester. In its heyday, the park drew up to 20,000 visitors daily with attractions including the World’s Greatest Scenic Railway, the Cyclone Roller Coaster, and a hand-carved 1927 Dentzel Carousel, he related.

Comm, who grew up in Chester, provided personal recollections of the park and discussed the efforts of people from the tri-state area to recapture the magic of Rock Springs Park through collections of park memorabilia, stories and offbeat tributes.

The area that became Rock Springs Park began attracting people as early as 4,000 years ago. Native Americans once thought of the spot as a sacred hunting ground. During the years of Colonial America, George Washington visited the area on two occasions, camped near the park entrance and drank from the mineral waters of Rock Springs.

Comm is the author of “Rock Springs Park,” issued by Arcadia Publishing in 2010 as part of its Images of America series.

An article in the June 24 issue of TIME magazine about the role of Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. as “The Dealmaker” contained a tidbit of interest to Mountain State residents: “To grease the gun deal, he (Schumer) courted conservatives at beer-and-pizza fiestas aboard West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s yacht, the Black Tie, anchored on the Potomac south of Washington.”

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: