“I can do that one!” my four-year-old daughter insists in a loud whisper. On stage, ballerinas are flying across the grand stage in graceful grand leaps. I look back at my daughter skeptically. “I think I would be one of the fairies” she continues matter-of-factly.
In this moment I’m thankful we’re attending the afternoon dress-rehearsal of Bruce Wells’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream, presented by Alberta Ballet joined by dancers with the Alberta Ballet School. I suspect members of the artistic team overheard my daughter’s confident commentary.
If they did, I’d like to think they loved it. After all, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the sort of ballet that sparks young imaginations, ignites dreams in aspiring dancers, and allows a company to really connect with its audience. It’s a production that’s funny and silly and magical and fun – and none of that takes away in the slightest from how beautiful and graceful and athletic and challenging an undertaking it is.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is, of course, based on William Shakespeare’s classic comedy. It’s a story of love and desire and just how mixed up things can get when mischievous fairies interfere with mere mortals. The King and Queen of the Fairies, Oberon and Titania, dance masterfully, but it’s the sprightly, impish Puck who is the real showstopper. His antics, athleticism and elegance are a tantalizing mix on stage.
The professional company is supported by some 30 students from Alberta Ballet School. At 90 minutes (plus intermission) it’s not too long, too serious or too formal for younger fans. Add to the mix stunning costumes, a stage that is something out of a fantasy world and lively, bright music and you have the recipe for the perfect production through which to introduce ballet to youngsters. (Grownups and dedicated ballet fans will love it too, of course!)
The timing couldn’t be better. As Alberta Ballet nears the end of its 2018/2019 run, eyes are starting to turn to next seasonand the exceptional lineup that’s in the works. The classic tales of Peter Pan and Frankenstein will both be brought to life on stage, as well as the timeless Swan Lake, and the evergreen Christmas favourite The Nutcracker.
I have a feeling my young dance-enthusiasts and I will be in the audience for all.
Bruce Wells’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
When: March 21 to 23, 2019
Time: Thursday, Friday & Saturday 7:30 pm; Saturday 2 pm
Where: Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, 11455 – 87 Avenue, Edmonton