CEDAR CITY — The Cedar City Junior Ballet is excited to present their annual full-scale production on March 13 and 14.
This year’s charming ballet, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” showcases nearly 60 dancers ranging in age and skill, from four-year-old beginners to trained and experienced adults.
Performances are at the Heritage Center, 105 N. 100 East in Cedar City, beginning at 7:30 p.m. each evening. The ballet is the only organization in Iron County to do a ballet production of this scale.
Artistic Director Lise Mills directs this year’s production and is excited to share her love of this ballet.
“After doing brand new ballets the past two seasons, we wanted to draw from our existing repertoire. ‘Midsummer’ is light and is one of my favorites,” she said.
This ballet tells the familiar story written by William Shakespeare of two pairs of lovers who are lost in the woods where Oberon, the fairy king, and Titania, the fairy queen, are at odds with one another. Puck, a mischievous sprite who does the bidding of the fairy king, is told to help the lovers but only causes more confusion. Meanwhile a small group of rustic villagers meet in the woods, and one also becomes a victim of Puck’s impish behavior. Eventually, all is cleared up and set aright in the enchanted forest.
The musical score was composed by Felix Mendelssohn. Its melodies are lovely and expressive, and no doubt, audience members will recognize the familiar wedding march theme near the end of the show.
As for her favorite parts of the ballet, Mills says, “I love the comedy of the lovers; the little fairy children who are adorable and often unpredictable; the Grande Pas de Deux of the fairy queen and king at the end that is pure beauty; and the way the dancers continuously weave in and out of the stage throughout the ballet that makes it magical!”
The ballet began working on “Midsummer” last fall. After auditions in September, measurements were taken for each dancer and Mills and her costuming volunteers begin work on handmade costumes and headpieces for the entire cast.
“I love the elegant costumes. No handmade tutus this time, though. Just beautiful flowing skirts and so many wings, wings, wings! But perhaps best of all, we only had to do one costume per person,” Mills laughed.
One unique set of casting for the show is husband and wife, Ernesto and Liesl Balderas, as one of the pairs of lovers. Both are trained ballet dancers, though they haven’t danced together for a few years. Lately their focus has been raising their young son Ezra, working on a graduate degree for Ernesto, and teaching at On Stage Dance Studio for Liesl.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had the chance to dance together,” says Liesl Balderas. “Getting to dance opposite of each other has been so much fun for us. Coming here [to CCJB] is very much like coming home. It’s a nurturing place. Not only do Ernesto and I get to have this experience together, but I especially love that the younger dancers get the opportunity to interact with the older dancers. This isn’t always the case at other studios I’ve attended.”
“Midsummer” features familiar dancers: Erica Bauer as Titania; Sterling Young as Oberon; Laura Nelson as Puck; Caye Clark and Hannah Brandt, along with the Balderases, as the lovers. Other dancers of all ages fill the rolls of fairies, butterflies, and rustic villagers (also known as mechanicals).
“The effort and work these dancers put in is incredible,” Mills said, commenting on how hard the dancers have prepared. “When it comes to watching it as an audience member, it just looks fun. And while it is fun, it is actually very hard work to reach the level at which some of them perform. This is a lovely, humorous, high energy show.”
Tickets for “Midsummer” are $15 and are available now at the Heritage Center box office, 435-865-2882. Children ages four and above are welcome to attend.
Cedar City Junior Ballet is Cedar City’s only classical ballet company created to involve community talent of all ages. Past full-length productions include “ Peter and the Wolf,” “The Puppet-show Man,” “The Secret Garden,” “The Sleeping Beauty,” “Coppelia,” “Cinderella” and “Les Patineurs.” It is funded, in part, by Cedar City RAP tax and generous donations from individuals and local businesses.