BalletNext will wake up ‘The Best of Sleeping Beauty’￼
March 29 production will include some twists
BalletNext: ‘The Best of Sleeping Beauty’
- When: 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 29
- Where: Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave.
- Cost: $5 to $10
- Tickets: parkcitylibrary.org/event/sleeping-beauty-ballet/
- Web: balletnext.com/events
BalletNext will perform at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 26, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd. The performance, part of the Park City Institute season, will feature the premiere of "Night Realms." Tickets can be purchased here.
“Sleeping Beauty” will awaken at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium on March 29.
But it will be more a nap-length production than the full, three-act work that usually runs up to three or more hours, thanks to Artistic Director Michele Wiles.
“I decided to make it a 50-minute version,” she said. “I’m working with Kaitlin Findlay from String FX who will be playing an original arrangement of the Tchaikovsky score. We’ve also included a harpist and flutist.”
The secret to shortening the ballet is Youth Services Librarian Katrina Kmak, according to Wiles.
“Katrina will just read about the second act where everyone is dreaming,” she said.
Kmak will be joined by a special guest, a puppet named Frankie, who is cast in the role of Carabosse, the evil fairy, whom many know from the Disney movies as Maleficent.
“Just having Katrina read the story and have this puppet, who will, I think, steal the show, will help people understand the story,” Wiles said. “I’m grateful to the library director, Adriane Juarez, for being open to doing this production.”
During the first act, kids in the audience will be invited to sit in the front of the stage to hear Kmak read the introduction, according to Wiles.
“We asked everyone to wear their best fairy attire,” she said. “The dancers will be onstage as well.”
After Kmak finishes reading the second act, the real fun will begin, Wiles said.
“Tchaikovsky started writing the music in 1888, and in the story everyone fell asleep for 100 years,” she said. “So in another twist, we decided when the characters wake up, they will wake up in the 1980s.”
The costumes will include Day-glo, neon, Spandex and spiked colored hair, Wiles said.
“We renamed the Bluebirds as Rockin’ Robins and I’m tossing around the Wedding Pas de Deux to be danced by David Bowie and Jane Fonda.”
The finale will also be adjusted to fit the times.
“Instead of the traditional finale, it will be Wham!’s ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,’” Wiles said with a laugh. It’s all about making the production more approachable and more accessible.”
Speaking of accessible, half the tickets are free, and the other half are available for a low and affordable price.
“We only are doing that to help us pay for production costs,” Wiles said.
“The Best of ‘Sleeping Beauty,’” which the production is called, is made possible by support from by the Summit County RAP Tax and the Park City Community Foundation, and started out as a short recital for Soaring Wings Montessori School, founded by Duna Strachan, Wiles said.
“My daughter goes to Soaring Wings, and BalletNext had done a couple of summer-school visits,” she said. “Duna had mentioned that part of theri curriculum was learning about Tchaikovsky.”
Wiles thought about the other ballets and operas the Russian composer had created, including “Swan Lake,” “The Nutcracker” and “Eugene Onegin.”
“I thought the kids would go mad for ‘Sleeping Beauty,’” she said. “While the public schools are out for spring break, the local Montessori schools aren’t, so we will also do a special school performance on March 28.”
Wiles has a special connection with “Sleeping Beauty.”
“The first time I performed anything from the ballet was when I did Little Red Riding Hood as a showcase piece in the Kirov Academy when I was 12,” she said.
The next time Wiles revisited the production was just after she joined the American Ballet Theatre in New York City.
“I barely was in the corps, and they offered me the role of Diamond Fairy in the third act of Kenneth MacMillan’s production,” she said. “Eventually, I was able to perform the principal roles of Lilac Fairy and Princess Aurora.”
Dancing Aurora’s Rose Adagio was one of Wiles’ career breakouts and highlights.
“I was 21 or 22, and Principal Irina Dvorovenko had unfortunately gotten injured,” she said. “So they asked me to dance. And I debuted Rose Adagio at the Metropolitan Opera House.”
Since then, Wiles has danced nearly every role, so it was easy for her to decide which variations to cut, but still preserve the fun.
“All the dancing we will see is world-class, and we are working with world-class musicians,” she said. “And we all know Katrina is so talented. So this will be fun for kids and for Park City.”
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