What do you get when you combine a dark and brooding fairy-tale by the brothers Grimm, the lightheartedness of a Disney cartoon, avant-garde choreography, a classical musical score and hundreds of dancers? You get an exciting non-traditional ballet called Snow White and it is set to be presented April 23rd and 24th at the Dallas Performing Arts Center on the campus of the Dallas High School.
The Joan Harris Centre has staged a spring ballet for the past thirty-three years; however, this is only the second time the regional studio has chosen to stage this work. A large contingent of the dancers who will be appearing in the three performances of the ballet Snow White are from the Mountain Top Area communities. Local ballet student who will be appearing in Snow White are: Maddalyn Boo, Emily Conway, Lainey Conway, Molly Franks, Amber Hughes, Jessica Kline, Theresa Kloeker, Melanie Kobela, Gabby Leir, Kim Prince, Claire Pugh, Amanda Stopper, Ava Thomas, Julie Truschel, Kayla Yetter, all from Mountain Top, Josephine Morgan, Orangeville, Christian Debellis, Sugarloaf, Faith Moyer, Wapwallopen.
Most people are familiar with the basic elements of this classic story; the beautiful young lady, who loses her mother early only to have her replaced by a conceited and spiteful stepmother and the seven forest dwelling dwarves who come to her rescue, however, as with most Grimm Brother tales, other characters and storylines have been altered in the telling and re-telling, over the centuries. It is the same with this ballet. Snow White is considered a non-traditional ballet, in that it is staged by ballet companies across the globe, yet there is no set repertoire or even score for the work. This allows each choreographer and troupe to put its own unique stamp on the work.
“I found this aspect of the ballet particularly enticing,” said Jennifer Harris, one of the directors of the production. “This allows us to use original choreography and to find classical works that will best enhance the story.”
The direction the Joan Harris Centre chose to take in staging this work was to fuse rudiments of the 1937 Disney movie with the original tale by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The studio staged original choreography to a score by composers Richard Norriss and Emilio Aragon creating a production that should prove to be enjoyed by audiences of all ages.
“We did give the names and characteristics of the seven dwarfs from the movie to the dancers in the ballet and by doing this have added some lighter moments to the performance, but I must admit, we also kept a lot of the darker plots from the original story.” Explained co-director Elisabeth Harris. “In fact, it is the wicked queen herself, which I find so different from any of the other antagonists in classical ballet. Unlike Dr. Coppelius in Coppelia, Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty or even the Ogre in Puss in Boots, there is nothing redeeming about the queen. She is vain, vindictive and murderous. Pure evil. The contrast between Snow White and the queen is so extreme that it makes this ballet fun and thrilling at the same time.”
As if to reinforce to the audience that this is not your typical fairy tale ballet, the work begins with Snow White’s mother, who is expecting the child any day, being lost in a blizzard and giving birth to the child in the woods before passing. Misfortune continues for the young girl when at age eight when a mysterious woman visits the palace and puts an evil love spell on her father the king. Years later, when the evil queen is informed by her magic mirror that she is no longer the most fair of all, but has been usurped by Snow White, she plots to kill her. Banished to the wood, Snow White is welcomed into the family of seven dwarfs who vow to protect her.
The production will feature elaborate costuming, rich scenery and a diverse score that will transport the audience to a dream-like setting.
Snow White will be performed on Saturday, April 23rd at 1:00 and 5:00 pm and Sunday April 24th at 2 p. m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 at the door.
For more information, call 570-287-7977 or visit the school’s website at www.joanharrisdancers.com.