Avila, my five-year-old, and I went to a recent matinee performance of Ballet West’s The Little Mermaid. We both enjoyed the gorgeous dancing, and at a one hour length, it was just the right amount of time for a Saturday afternoon.
Snippets of narrative from Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale helped guide the story, keeping both of us engaged in the magic. I was impressed with the integration of a multi-age cast from Ballet West II and the Ballet West Academy. The women were all stunning, especially Eliana Vogel, a young little mermaid, and Brittany Rand as a sensuously evil Sea Witch. The foppishness of the male characters made me laugh out loud, adding to the overall charm of the work. For example, I loved Niko Yaroslaski’s interpretation of the ambiguously religious priest/rabbi figure in his brief appearances 1) randomly and in a very worried manner helping the prince off the beach after his shipwreck, and 2) abruptly emerging to officiate the wedding.
The plot is more along the lines of the original fairy tale than the Disney classic, which sparked some lively discussion during the show. Here are a few quotes from Avila:
“Everyone is a really, really good dancer.”
“I like the mermaids when the little one goes to the surface.”
“I like how she saved the prince.”
“Why didn’t anyone tell the prince that it was the little mermaid who saved him, not the other girl?”
When the little mermaid’s sisters trade their hair for a knife for the little mermaid to use to kill the prince and win back her tail, Avila loudly suggested that the little mermaid should just kill the prince’s new wife. I thought that put an interesting Fatal Attraction-esque lens on the whole story.
Avila drew this picture of the ocean waves and sea foam, seamless duets and quartets danced by the Ballet West Academy Professional Training Division, both of our favorite part.
Liz Ivkovich is the editor of the print edition of loveDANCEmore. She is putting her MFA in dance (Utah ‘16) to work for the University of Utah’s Sustainability Office and Global Change & Sustainability Center.