Press Releases

It’s Story Time!
Little Bo-Peep, Humpty Dumpty, Three Blind Mice, Jack and Jill, and more  together on Whitaker Center stage in CPYB world premiere

Carlisle, Pa. (September 15, 2015) – The Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) unveils the world premiere of Once Upon a Rhyme at Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts. Performances are at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, October 24, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 25. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for children age 12 and under and may be purchased by calling the Whitaker Center Box Office at 717.214.ARTS (2787), in person at 222 Market Street, Harrisburg, or online at 

Dancing characters will delight adults and their children and grandchildren in this captivating show woven from timeless childhood rhymes. 

“In this clever telling of beloved literary treasures that have been handed down from generation to generation, CPYB brings together the best in the industry to create a ballet that is every bit as entertaining for the parents as it is for their children,” said Founding Artistic Director Marcia Dale Weary.

CPYB sought out Los Angeles choreographer Kelly Ann Sloan for the creation of Once Upon a Rhyme. Sloan is not a newcomer to the company, having contributed works to the 2012 and 2014 June Series mixed repertory productions and to ChoreoPlan 2011, CPYB’s choreographic initiative. The creative team helping to bring Sloan’s vision to life includes Cary Burkett, the distinctive voice of Fresh Air and All Things Considered heard on WITF 89.5. Burkett will perform the narration for the ballet. Highly regarded dance, opera and theatre scenic designer Lewis Folden brings his versatility to the new storybook inspired sets. Folden returns to the SouthCentral PA region after enthralling audiences with the sets he created for the CPYB sell-out hits Hansel and Gretel and Carnival of the Animals. Veteran lighting designer Josh Monroe seamlessly stitches together the expert mix of storytelling, theatre and — propelling the audience into an all-encompassing sensory experience.

“As a child, I would read a book and want to jump right into the pages myself to meet the characters,” said Sloan. “I have created Once Upon a Rhyme with that in mind; a story, based on rhymes of Mother Goose, where children’s imaginations help move the tale along and make the ‘happily ever after’ moment in the end.”

The ballet’s libretto, an original story written by Sloan and rhyming narration added by Burkett, weaves together more than 17 classic and original new rhymes. The plot follows the schoolchildren in Mrs. Goose’s classroom, who after a very busy morning learning their numbers, ABCs, and how to tell time, eagerly anticipate the most special part of their day — story time. To their utter delight when Little Bo-Peep steps out of her tale in search of her sheep, the marvelous adventure begins!

For CPYB student Simon Hoke, the theatrical components of Sloan’s Once Upon a Rhyme paired with the dancing creates an element of fantasy that draw in the younger members of the audience.

“Being in the moment — with all the sets and costumes — helps me further connect with the character and his role,” said Hoke. “When all the aspects of the ballet come together, there is a feeling of reality and vividness that is unparalleled.” Hoke is rehearsing the role of Little Boy Blue.

CPYB is supported, in part, by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and Cultural Enrichment Fund.

Special Pre-Performance Event: Guests are invited to FREE informal story time programs at 12:15 p.m. October 24 and 1:15 p.m. October 25, which immediately precede the Saturday and Sunday matinee performances.  

New for this season: CPYB is partnering with the Cumberland and Dauphin Library systems for special Once Upon a Rhyme Story Time programs. Programs are free to attendees. Attendees are encouraged to call the individual library to register.

  • 10 a.m. Saturday, October 3, Amelia S. Givin Library, 114 N Baltimore Ave, Mt Holly Springs; 717.486.3688
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, October 4, Hershey Public Library, 701 Cocoa Avenue, Hershey; 717.533.6555  
  • 10:15 a.m. Saturday, October 10, Bosler Memorial Library, 158 West High Street, Carlisle; 717.243.4642
  • 5:30 p.m. Monday, October 12, East Shore Library, 4501 Ethel Street, Harrisburg; 717.652.9380
  • 6 p.m. Thursday, October 15, New Cumberland Library Foundation Hall 1 Benjamin Plaza, New Cumberland, PA 17070; 717.774.7820

MEDIA OPPORTUNITY: We invite the media to attend upcoming rehearsals and speak with the performers and artistic staff about the performance. For more information, please contact Bonnie Schulte at 717.245.1191 or Coverage opportunities of performances are also available and must be set up through Bonnie Schulte.


About Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet
Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet is a celebrated leader in the world of classical ballet. Embracing an attitude of lifelong learning more than 60 years ago, Founding Artistic Director Marcia Dale Weary envisioned a school where children would have the opportunity to receive exceptional ballet training. Today CPYB is the nation’s preeminent school of classical ballet with an international reputation for training young men and women. The school’s renowned teaching methodology couples performance opportunities with innovative educational initiatives, an esteemed faculty, and a proven syllabus – all in an environment that promotes the acquisition of the life skills crucial to a child’s development.

Thousands of young people have passed through Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s acclaimed studios. CPYB alumni continually occupy top positions in the leading ballet companies from San Francisco and Miami to New York, London and beyond. Through the organization’s threefold mission – to inspire, educate and enrich – the legacy of Marcia Dale Weary and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet redefines the art form, preserves its history and shapes its future.

Kelly Ann Sloan
A native of Bayonne, New Jersey, Kelly Ann Sloan received her dance training at New Jersey Ballet School, while spending summers at American Ballet Theatre, Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell at the Kennedy Center, and Richmond Ballet. Ms. Sloan graduated cum laude from Indiana University School (IU) of Music with degrees in ballet and journalism. At IU Ms. Sloan had the privilege of being coached by Violette Verdy and won first place at the National Society of Arts and Letters Ballet Competition. Ms. Sloan danced professionally with Cincinnati Ballet, under the direction of Victoria Morgan, and Los Angeles Ballet, under the direction of Colleen Neary and Thordal Christensen. She has also performed with the Barak Ballet, National Choreographers Initiative, Los Angeles Opera, San Diego Opera, and Cincinnati Opera.

As a choreographer, Ms. Sloan has created new works for Kansas City Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet and Island Moving Company, as well as Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Ballet Academy East, and New American Youth Ballet. She has been a finalist at the Choreography Under the Stars Competition in Palm Desert and Ballet Builders in New York City. Throughout her professional career, she has taught all levels at the Otto M. Budig Academy of Cincinnati Ballet and Los Angeles Ballet School. She is currently the Ballet Chair of the Colburn School’s Trudl Zipper Dance Institute in Los Angeles.

Cary Burkett
Cary Burkett produces features for the WITF Arts and Culture Desk and serves as host of Fresh Air and All Things Considered. He also produces WITF’s Center Stage, heard Sunday evenings at 8 p.m. Burkett has been actively involved with the arts across the region. He has worked and performed with many of the area arts organizations, including Theatre Harrisburg, York Little Theatre, and Bel Voce. For Music at Gretna, he portrayed Johann Sebastian Bach in a special Bach concert. He collaborated with Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra in the world premiere of a new ballet version of Camille Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals. Burkett wrote the story for the ballet and served as narrator in the performances.

Burkett received a BFA degree in theatre from the University of Texas, and has worked in numerous regional theatres, dinner theatres, summer stock and touring companies across the country. Some of his roles include Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, El Gallo in The Fantasticks, and John Adams in 1776. He has a shelf full of acting awards. He lived for several years in New York City, where in addition to performing in Off-Broadway productions he worked as a writer and editor for DC Comics and as a freelance writer for Marvel Comics and Red Circle Comics. He has chronicled the adventures of such heroes as Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man. He also created his own super hero character, Nemesis, for DC Comics. With his wife, Jennifer, Burkett also created a Christian theatre group called ACT, Agape Christian Theatre, and they have toured pieces on missionary trips to Russia, Holland and the Philippines.