In 1991, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was one of the first movies I saw in theatres. The 2017 remake is a favorite of my 6 year-old. She and I jumped at the opportunity to see Ballet West’s ballet version during their annual Family Classics series.
After fielding 25 or more “What’s happening now? Who is that? They aren’t in the movie!” comments from my young date during the performance, I realized how colonized the fairy tale is by the Disney version. A $3 bottle of water at intermission effectively silenced both of us (albeit for different reasons), and we were soon transported by Ballet West’s perfectly-paced iteration.
This 60-minute Beauty and the Beast had less villagers and more magical quirk. Intermittent spoken narration and creative use of magical objects helped thread the tale together. Pamela Robinson Harris and Peggy Dolkas’ creative choreography was masterfully performed by Ballet West II artists accompanied by students and the Professional Training Division of the Ballet West Academy. Kudos all around to the lovely dancing, which impressed everyone in the audience, this writer included.
Though all the dancers were truly outstanding, Victoria Vassos as Evil Fairy and Alexandra Terry in the role of Beauty were my standouts. I loved the shifting cast of love duets, sometimes with Terry (Beauty) and Robert Fowler (Beast), at other times Vinicus Lima (Prince) and Terry (Beauty), and still another lovely moment between Lima (Prince) and Tatiana Stevenson (Beauty’s double). My favorite ensemble moments featured the 12 castle statues in gray dresses and white wigs when waltzing together at the ball and out of a wardrobe with several of Beauty’s dresses. (“How did they learn all those steps?” my date wondered.)
Central to this story were the material objects of the classic fairy tale. Whether it was a magical glove that transported dancers from one scene to another, the unique use of transportational mirrors, or the satisfying flounce of David Heuvel’s tutus, I was left considering the imprint of the objects of our daily lives, and how everyday things become imbued with power on and off stage.
From conception to performance, Ballet West’s Beauty and the Beast is a welcome reminder that this tale as old as time has as many variations as any fairy tale should.
Liz Ivkovich is the Development Director for UtahPresents.