Ballet West invites audiences to follow the Yellow Brick Road
Peggy Bergmann Ballet West Academy will present its world premiere of ‘The Wonderful World of Oz” at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd.
Ticket prices start at $12 and they can be purchased by visiting www.tututix.com/tickets/.
Peggy Bergmann Ballet West Academy dancers would love Park City to accompany them as they follow the Yellow Brick Road during its new production of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
Curtain is 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, and the production features original choreography by Cati Snarr, the principal of the Peggy Bergmann Ballet West Academy, and Michelle Player, the schools director of contemporary dance programs.
“Park City’s Ballet West campus is so unique because we offer training in a variety of styles, and not just ballet,” Snarr said. “So my thought was to create a production that was a showpiece that will tell the story with the different genres.”
The story is based on L. Frank Baum’s beloved children’s book, and features Sophia Simmons as Dorothy, Mia Sosnowski as Scarecrow, Allison Lambert as Tin Man, Mia Taylor as Lion, Holly Moffatt as the wizard, Cleo Abbott as Toto, Joanna Lazzarnoi as the Good Witch and Cassidy Cook in a dual role as the Wicked Witch of the East and the Wicked Witch of the West, who are twin sisters.
The dancers were also matched to the roles that best fit their personalities, Snarr said.
“That’s not to say the Cassidy is a witch,” Snarr said with a laugh. “The roles also match the dance styles that the dancers love. So they perform each piece with passion, and since this production is many of these dancers’ last performance with us, we wanted to make it special.”
Snarr enjoyed choreographing and staging the dances.
“It’s been fun, because it has become a collaboration of sorts,” she said. “As I teach the dances, the kids will do something different or make a mistake and I will go, ‘That’s the best thing for the piece.’ So they have helped created pieces of these works based on who they are, and it’s cool to see these young artists create theses roles in step and personality.”
The performance does use a bit of narration, but doesn’t rely on it to tell the story.
“This is a classic tale and we didn’t have to get trapped in details,” Snarr said. “So we go from big scene to big scene on the yellow Brick Road, and that works just fine.”
As the audience follows the dancers into Oz, they run into the Ozettes who perform a Radio City Rockettes-style number and there is a contemporary-dance cyclone, according to Snarr.
“Dorothy will be in her pointe shoes, and there will be another contemporary dance piece in the Tin Man’s tin-trash junkyard,” she said. “We tried to find ways in the production to fit all of these styles together. It’s been an adjustment for me to figure out how to use everyone’s strength.”
The music was culled from different sources other than the well-known 1939 film soundtrack, and Stephen Schwartz’s 2003 Tony Award-winning retelling, “Wicked.”
“It took quite a lovely few days to create a score of music by many other artists, and we edited the songs together so the music matched the styles of each dances,” Snarr said. “I think if we would have used the original ‘Wizard of Oz’ music, it wouldn’t have made it easy for the different dance styles to flow together.”
The costumes and sets are also the result of mixing and matching.
“Some of the costumes are from Ballet West, and others we had made or purchased,” Snarr said. “We hope to reinvent this ballet again down the line, and we will keep most of the costumes.”
The sets are pieced together from rented scenery and the “Firebird” backdrop from Ballet West, Snarr said.
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” also served as a production that brought the dancers and faculty of the Peggy Bergmann Ballet West Academy together, since it merged with the Park City Dance Academy two years ago.
“This was the bonding production that was needed for Ballet West and Park City Dance to become a more cohesive school,” Snarr said.
The performance will also feature Ballet West Academy’s younger dancers in a few numbers before the curtains rise on “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” Snarr said.
“The younger dancers will have their own time in the spotlight,” she said.
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