Only a few months after Joburg Ballet’s runaway success with Big City, Big Dreams, this prolific company will next month treat ballet lovers to yet another world premiere.
Artistic director Iain MacDonald created an enchanting new full-length classical ballet, Snow White – The Ballet, which, judging from his previous choreographic accomplishments and his seemingly inexhaustible creative arsenal, promises to be another ballet spectacle of note.
With Snow White – The Ballet, MacDonald is again turning for inspiration to a famous fairy tale as he did with the company’s production of Cinderella, a critical and box-office hit last year.
Inspired by the Brothers Grimm fairy tale about a girl whose beauty drives an evil queen to vengeful acts, MacDonald turned to the music of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich.
“Studying and analysing Shostakovich’s voluminous work, I discovered a treasure trove of music that makes for true ballet gems. His music is richly melodic and evocative and perfectly suited for this ballet.
Nicole Ferreira-Dill and Leusson Muniz star in Snow White. Picture: Supplied
“Snow White is an ideal fairy tale to be adapted into a classical ballet. It is a story with romance, comedy and drama in equal measure and wonderful opportunities to showcase our dancers in both classical and character roles.
“It’s also a pleasure to be working with Andrew Botha, a stage designer with an impressive gift for transporting audiences to a captivating and magical world and the remarkable ability to bring the stage to life”, MacDonald said.
The set incorporates traditional 3D design with cutting-edge development in animation design. The merging of live performance and large-scale animation makes for a vivid visual feast and produces endless possibilities for mesmerising and though-provoking story telling.
The animation serves many purposes. Besides for storytelling per se, it imaginatively lends itself to augment context, mood and continuity.
“It is, however, imperative to me that the focus always remains on the dancers,” Botha said. “The animation should never detract and only should only serve as an extension of the performances”.
Audiences can look forward to spellbinding scenes ranging from the high drama of the malicious and diabolical queen and her magic mirror to the cheerful and enthralling world of the charming dwarfs and forest animals.
Due to the impossibility of make-up changes for dancers who portray more than one character, MacDonald opted for the use of masks for which he called on the expertise of mask guru Kelsey Du Toit.
Snow White cast. Picture: Supplied
Working with masks created a number of challenges for the dancers as the masks considerably influence the dancers’ balance, spacial awareness and peripheral vision.
A further challenge has been the inability to use facial expression in the portrayal of their characters. To overcome these obstacles MacDonald called on the expertise of renowned theatre director and performance expert, Sylvaine Strike, who fashioned a movement vocabulary for the dancers that is acutely expressive and which lends itself to the effectual portrayal their characters and an accuracy that enhances the credibility of the storytelling.
The season of Snow White – The Ballet will also mark the first appearances with Joburg Ballet of four newly appointed Brazilian dancers – Ana Cristina Cruz, Bruno Rafael Miranda, Armando Barros and Leusson Muniz – who successfully auditioned for the company during a recent visit to South America by MacDonald and CEO Esther Nasser.
Joburg Ballet has also welcomed Revil Yon from Cape Town City Ballet, who joined the company just before the highly successful season of
Big City, Big Dreams.
* Snow White – The Ballet opens Friday October 13 and runs until October 22 at the Joburg Theatre. Bookings at Joburg Theatre box office, on 0861 670 670 or online at www.joburgtheatre.com