Ballet West Academy students will bring ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ to life
“The Sleeping Beauty: Aurora’s Wedding”
1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 11
The Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd.
$15 for general admission; $17 for reserved admission
The Peggy Bergmann Ballet West Academy will present a piece of dance history when it stages “The Sleeping Beauty: Aurora’s Wedding” on Saturday at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
The work, which originally premiered in 1890 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, was choreographed by Marius Petipa to a score composed by Tchaikovsky.
“Aurora’s Wedding” is an abridged version of the ballet that focuses mostly on the full-length production’s third act, said Cati Snarr, principal of the Peggy Bergmann Ballet West Academy.
It’s a 50 minute work that Sergei Diaghilev arranged in 1922, she said.
“The overall adult roles are still traditional Petipa choreography that people would know and recognize,” she said. “Diaghilev utilized the fairy variations from the prologue and the garland dance and all of act three.”
To accommodate the 150 children who will dance in the piece, Snarr and her faculty choreographed more dances and added more scenes.
“We modified our Puss in Boots variation, so we now have three little black cats and three little white cats that will do a lot of the traditional choreography,” she said. “We also added some other fairy tale characters such as the Princess and the Frog to the wedding, and we gave Cinderella more woodland creatures to dance with.”
This version of “The Sleeping Beauty” will not include Carabosse or other evil fairies, Snarr said.
“We’ve done evil fairies a lot, so our version is just the wedding and the happy characters that attend the wedding,” she said.
The piece will also focus on both the “Sleeping Beauty” pas de deux and “Bluebird” pas de deux, according to Snarr.
“Aurora is danced by one of our advanced dancers, Cassidy Cook, who will perform with Jeremy Power, a trainee at the Salt Lake City campus,” Snarr said. “Jeremy, of course, dances as the Prince.”
The “Bluebird” will be performed by Kesler Colton, a former Park City campus student who is training in Salt Lake City, and Sophia Simmons, the academy’s current Peggy Bergmann scholarship student.
“This is our first year with dancers strong enough to be able to do these pas de deux,” Snarr said.
Setting the ballet on the academy students was a milestone for Snarr, who appeared in Ballet West’s first performances of the work in 1985.
Snarr was a member of Ballet West when the company received the rights for “The Sleeping Beauty” from the Royal Ballet in London.
“Elaine Thomas flew from the Royal Ballet to set the ballet on us,” Snarr said.
Ballet West took the production to the Kennedy Center in Washington., D.C.
“We then toured it through the United States as we came back to Utah,” she said. “What I’m setting on the academy is all that same choreography that we learned. It’s nice not only setting the dance on my students, but also relaying some dance history.”
“Aurora’s Wedding” isn’t the only notable piece of dance history the students will perform on Saturday, Snarr said.
They will also open the performances with George Balanchine’s “Midsummer’s Night Dream” scherzo, she said.
“Ballet West had just received permission to perform this work from the Balanchine Trust,” she said. “Viki Psihoyos from the Trust came and set it on the kids from all of the Ballet West Academy campuses — Park City, Salt Lake City and Thanksgiving Point — for their own performances.”
It’s an honor for the students to dance the Balanchine work, Snarr said.
“Members of the trust had to come watch our dancers to make sure they were good enough to dance it,” she said. “So this is a big deal to do this, and to have Viki come and individually coach the students was amazing.”
“Midsummer’s Night Dream” will open the performances that will also include tap and jazz pieces before ending with “Aurora’s Dream.”
“It has been rewarding for myself and my faculty to see how much the kids enjoy these pieces,” Snarr said. “Some of these pieces are intense, and to have the dancers understand the steps and know they can accomplish the steps has been very empowering for them. I’m so proud of them.”
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