Encore Winter 2015

Theatre Ballet

Dancing to Spark a Dream

Children are invited to attend Theatre Ballet’s Prince and Princess Party dressed as their favorite character and to interact with the dancers portraying classic fairy-tale characters.

Theatre Ballet involves its audience from before the opening “once upon a time” till beyond the “happily ever after” in their show Fairy Tales and Fantasy, a family-friendly show the dancers will perform in their upcoming tour to Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.Before the curtain opens on Fairy Tales and Fantasy, the young and young-at-heart are invited to come dressed up in full costume to meet the dancers. Children are encouraged to attend as their favorite fairy-tale character. Guests at this preshow Prince and Princess Party number up to half the audience members on any given performance. It is a chance not only for children to meet fairy-tale idols but also for hopeful young dancers to meet role models—which director Shani Robison says is an important part of the tour. “We want the children to have a friend when the dancers come out and to see [that] their dreams can also come true if they want to be onstage,” she says, allowing the younger audience members to be not only spectators but also engaged participants.

Hannah Brown, as Aurora, and other members of Theatre Ballet represent characters from ballet classics Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Cinderella, and Snow White.

For dancer Hannah Brown, the best part of the tour is interacting with the kids. Dancers from Theatre Ballet are often the first ballerinas these children get to meet in person, and the team loves the children’s reactions. “For these kids, to see a real ballerina in a tutu up close is just so exciting,” Brown says. The dancers know that this interaction could be the spark to encourage the next generation of performers, so they work to make the meeting as personal as possible.During intermission, dancers invite all the kids who dressed up to join them for a dance onstage. “I love to see parents taking pictures of the kids onstage,” Brown says. “It is their moment in the spotlight, and they feel so special.” Then at the end of the evening, the dancers again meet the audience in the lobby to help attendees of all ages reflect on their dreams.

With the help of an underwater beam, Theatre Ballet performer Charis Dexter embodies the princess of Swan Lake.

In addition to formal shows, Theatre Ballet also connects with community members in schools, where Robison and some dancers explain costumes and techniques with demonstrations from the show. The ensemble members especially enjoy when Robison invites a group of boys up to learn a dance, complete with jumps and kicks.Tours also include master classes with local studios, where sometimes more than 50 students will be onstage receiving instruction at once. Robison even takes more-advanced students through a warm-up designed for the Theatre Ballet team. Each class gives students the opportunity to experience high-caliber dance and interact personally with the dancers.“It is a really good chance for the students to feel the energy and professionalism of the dancers,” Robison says. “They begin to realize it is hard work but that it can be done. It helps them recognize a dream that may have been nonexistent in their lives before.”