Ballet West II provides Grimm delights with “Snow White”

Sat Nov 09, 2019 at 10:16 am
By Kate Mattingly
Claire Wilson danced the title role in Ballet West II’s Snow White Friday night at the Capitol Theatre. Photo: Beau Pearson

Like most fairy tales, Snow White features the traditional magical elements––a talking mirror, a poisoned apple.

Yet in the new world premiere production, presented by Ballet West II and Ballet West Academy Friday evening at the Capitol Theatre, there are even more delights—like the Grimm Brothers themselves.

The brothers are featured as characters, Jakob and Wilhelm. Prior to each scene, they acted out the narration (provided by voice-overs) through mimed interactions. For instance, The Vain Queen was depicted by a hand signifying a crown, and then a shimmy and a wink to convey her infatuation with herself and her mirror. Each interlude caused eruptions of laughter in the multi-generational audience. As danced by Vinicius Lima and Beau Chesivoir, they were fantastic, adding whimsical and charming interludes to a sumptuous production. 

The Brothers’ antics were one of many additions to the story that make this production enriching and endearing. The ballet was choreographed by Pamela Robinson Harris, who was assisted by Christopher Sellars.

Costumes designed by David Heuvel feature various shades of blue for the scenes in The King’s palace, with Courtiers wearing opulent garments, and The Vain Queen donning a darker dress that seemed to shimmer like an iridescent creature. For the seven dwarfs, the costumes are more simple: pants and shirts in varying colors that coordinate with their forest abode and animals.

Snow White, performed on Friday by Claire Wilson, radiated joy with her beaming smile and ebullient dancing. Tiny cast members included the cute dwarfs as well as eight Leaves who darted across the stage waving their arms to evoke a blustery forest. The cast included many ages, with some dancers as young as 8 or 9. It was impressive to see the artistry and investment of every character in the production. The unnamed Bluebird stood out with her buoyancy and flying grand jetes.

Harris’s clever choreography included a trio depicting The Vain Queen’s Mirror: two women and a man who conveyed the seduction of this object as they slinked around The Vain Queen. Performed on Friday by Connor Hammond, Isabella Corridon, and Ginabel Peterson, the Mirror dancers were the personification of narcissism. 

The Forest Animals similarly conveyed their characters’ personalities through their dancing: especially adorable was the rabbit that thumped its foot, and then bounded off the stage with bouncy hops. Along with these endearing creatures, the production offers many levels of enjoyment. Without spoiling the twist at the end, suffice it to say there’s a surprising element of hope or redemption. I also started thinking of the happiness Snow White finds in the forest with the dwarfs and animals, and how this simple life seems to hold more fulfillment than the luxurious trappings of the palace. The Prince, performed Friday by Noel Jensen, conveyed his enchantment with Snow White with a beautiful combination of attraction and admiration.

The taped music by Edvard Grieg and Johann Strauss II was a pleasant accompaniment, although a bit overshadowed by the choreography, dancing, and costumes.

The production is about 90 minutes with one intermission and offers something for every audience member: exquisite dancing by Ballet West II, clever choreography by Harris and Sellars, impressive performances by Ballet West Academy students, sumptuous costumes by Heuvel, and a story that remains timeless and touching.

The final performances of Snow White are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday.

Leave a Comment