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BYU Ballet to premiere legend of "The Snow Queen" Feb. 19-21

Original full-length ballet based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale

More than 30 dancers will create winter magic during Brigham Young University Ballet’s presentation of “The Snow Queen” Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 19-21, at 7:30 p.m. in the Pardoe Theatre.

A matinee performance will also be given Saturday, Feb. 21 at 2 p.m.

Tickets at $8 are available through the Fine Arts Ticket Office, (801) 378-4322 or at www.byu.edu/hfac.

The original full-length ballet, based on the famous Hans Christian Andersen tale, was conceived and created in collaboration by ballet faculty members Sandra Allen, Jennie Creer-King, Jan Dijkwel and Shani Robison.

The ballet tells the story of friends Gerda and Kai in an enchanted journey from the rooftops of a Danish village to the snowy northern palace of the evil Snow Queen. The action culminates with the warmth of loving tears melting icy hearts, clearing vision and reuniting the lead couple into an eternal bond of marriage.

Ashley Ivory and Katherine Dixon will dance the role of Gerda, Kai will be portrayed by Vincent Runyan and Adam Miele, and the Snow Queen will be danced by Jessica Shippen and Kristi Brown

“It’s exciting to work with such gifted and talented students,” said choreographer and ballet division administrator Sandra Allen. “They’re rehearsing and performing with extraordinary artistry. I’m even working with some 7-year-olds from the community who are in the production, and everyone is so excited and diligent.”

Dijkwel, whose main responsibility in choreographing the production was in character development, also said that he is excited about how the story of the Snow Queen comes alive through the production.

“The hardest thing about working with characterization is that you have to do some research and try to get to the heart of what the storyteller really meant,” Dijkwel said. “And I’m translating what I’ve researched to the dancer, who then tries to translate it to his or her body. Then it needs to be translated to the audience.”

“The dancers are quite advanced,” he said. “Many have had professional experience even before they came to dance at the university.”

Allen agrees. “Audiences can see that the dancers have mastered the techniques. It’s a challenge for the students, because the music is very difficult to count, but they’re doing well with it. Plus, performances become expressive and vibrant because of the spirit and enthusiasm of the dancers.”

The nearly three-year process of creating a new ballet has been a long but rewarding experience for the choreographers.

“Jennie Creer-King was the dynamite power and driving force,” Allen said. “Even though producing ‘The Snow Queen’ was my dream, it would have never happened without her. And Jan and Shani are also doing extraordinary work.”

The choreographers are also excited about the music and the set design.

“We collected music from Scandinavia,” Dijkwel said. “The music is from Jean Sibelius and Gabriel Fauré. And the sets are incredible.”

The sets, designed by Doug Ellis, give the ambiance of a Victorian pop-up storybook.

Dancers in the production represent members of two ballet companies, BYU Theatre Ballet and the BYU Ballet Showcase Company.

“It’s nice to have the collaboration not only of choreographers, but of the companies as well,” Robison said.

Robison also said the ballet is one that audiences definitely do not want to miss.

“It’s going to be beautiful,” she said. “The sets, the costumes, the music, the choreography—they all blend so well. And everyone loves a story ballet. We’re excited to have a winter story ballet that isn’t the Nutcracker, because it’s sure to pull the audience into a whole new experience.”

For more information on “The Snow Queen,” contact Sandra Allen at (801) 422-4489.

Writer: Rachel M. Sego

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