4,000 Valley kids watch ballet performance of 'Jungle Book'

Thousands of children from Valley schools packed the Saroyan Theatre for two special performances of 'Jungle Book', and the review from Olivia, a 3rd grader from Madera, was good.

"I liked it... (I liked best) The girls with the pretty dress," she said.

The cast featured an international team of dancers. Most have been dancing since they were younger than the youngest in the audience.

"I think Jungle Book is great. It's a very fun ballet. The kids, they love it, it's a great ballet for the family," said Deise Mendonca.

"It's a lot of fun performing for these kids, so much energy and hearing them laugh," said Jimmy Folsom.

Local dancers from Ballet Fresno like 8th grader Devin Sasai were part of it too.

"We have been practicing for months, but it has been a very fun process being in this ballet," she said.

These performances were coordinated with the Valley Performing Arts Council and the Fresno Unified School District to expose children to the arts.

One hope is seeing these performances like this, that are based on novels, can be used in class to get students interested in the actual book. And, to encourage them to embrace the arts.

"I hope (it will inspire others to become dancers). We always need more guys, and it's a great thing for the guys to see how athletic ballet really is," said Jimmy Folsom.

The two performances drew more than 4,000 students. A public performance will be held on Saturday.
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