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RENOWNED choreographer Mark Hawkins is all set to bring his new ballet, Hansel and Gretel, to Durban.
The timeless classic will be given a modern twist as it features the Johannesburg Youth Ballet and what sounds like a pretty cool digital set. The full-length ballet will also feature a new score.
Tonight caught up with Hawkins. He said about 40 young dancers would be performing.
“It’s all digital scenery. For example, when Hansel and Gretel go into the forest, the forest moves with them. It’s a bit scary as the audiovisual morphs and transforms into something else. It’s an exciting format of keeping dance lively and modern.”
Hawkins said the production was designed to be more inviting to younger and newer audiences.
“There is nothing arbitrary about anything, we tell the story. It’s classical ballet in choreography and in the vocabulary of the steps, but it has a new-age, very immediate and fresh feel about it. Out of all the work I’ve done anywhere in the world, I’m really proud of this production.”
Hawkins said he loved the classics: “I was brought up on the classics, but classics should be done only if they’re done properly.”
Andrew Botha has created the set design and digital animation, while the original score is the work of Nik Sakellarides and the audiovisual integration is by Malcolm Finlay of Penmac.
Hansel and Gretel played to critical acclaim when it premiered at the University of Johannesburg’s Arts Centre in August last year. It featured in the main programme of the recent National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, and Hawkins said it was a hit yet again during a return season in Joburg.
The Durban run is perfectly timed for end-of-term celebrations and the start of the spring holidays. With this in mind, the Johannesburg Youth Ballet has scheduled two schools’ performances for Thursday, September 19, at 9am and noon.
The 37-year-old company, under the leadership of artistic director Kate Martin, features 32 of the city’s most promising young dancers.
The company also provides an avenue for its audience to do good.
Hawkins said: “Because the story is related to hunger, and we know about those who go hungry in our country, we are encouraging the audience to bring non-perishable foods to the theatre.
“We will be building a ‘house of food’ in the foyer, all of which will get donated to a local charity.”
Hansel and Gretel at the Drama Theatre, September 19 to 21. Public performances: September 19 and 20 at 7.30pm and September 21 at 11am, 3pm and 7pm. R90 at Computicket. School bookings: Kim Coppen at email@example.com or 082 579 6882.