After more than a year, nearly 60 dancers from Spokane Academy of Dance, including members of Spokane Youth Ballet, will take to the stage of the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Artistic director Naomi Hanvey explained the intense drive that she and her team have felt to get their dancers back on stage over the past months.
“I’m excited – and relieved – that my students finally have the opportunity to perform after all this time,” Hanvey said in an email on Wednesday. “Our last concert, ‘Peter and the Wolf’ in January 2020, only had about 15 dancers, so most of these kids haven’t been on stage in two years. … It was almost physically painful to have to cancel last year.”
The performance will begin with the premiere of Phaedra Jarrett’s adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “The Little Prince.” The children’s story follows a pilot after a crashing-landing in the desert. On his way through the wasteland, he meets a young boy, a “little prince” from another planet, who shares tales of his many adventures. The production will star Maggie Daley, a student from Spokane Ballet Studio under the direction of Sara Donally.
“I really hope the audience will be touched by ‘The Little Prince,’ ” Hanvey said, explaining how the book has always been special to her. “It’s a more serious story than we usually produce, but it has some humor, as well, and a whole lot of whimsy, just like the book does.”
Many of the young dancers will perform in masks, but the older soloists – now fully vaccinated – will be able to perform without them.
“The excitement has been building since we started our intensive rehearsal schedule last week,” Hanvey said, adding that dancers have been coming into the studio for daily rehearsals. “There’s an energy in the room when we get to this point that just keeps growing until we get to the stage.
“It’s always been my goal as a teacher and director for my studio to be a haven for my students so that no matter what they’re going through in their lives, they know they’re safe here. I never realized until this year how important that was.”
Following the premiere, guest artist Benjamin Tucker and Academy of Dance alumna Brook Geffrey-Bowler will perform “Spring Waters,” the 1953 pas de deux choreographed by Asaf Mikhailovich Messerer with music by Sergei Rachmaninoff. According to the Oxford Reference, at only two minutes in length, this virtuosic pas de deux (a dance for two) is considered “one of the most concentrated pieces in the ballet repertory.”
The program will conclude with a one-act staging of Léo Delibes’ “Coppelia.” The story follows Franz and Swanhilda, a young couple whose wedding plans are thrown into uproar when the sinister Dr. Coppelius plots to use Franz in a mysterious magical experiment. Tucker and local artistic director Vincas Greene of Vytal Movement Dance will join students of the Academy of Dance in this much-beloved comic ballet.
“For the past year, ballet has been more than just a fun hobby or a form of physical fitness or even of artistic expression,” Hanvey said, adding that for many of her students, ballet has been the one constant in a year of uncertainty. “I hope our performance will remind the audience of the value of the arts and their ability to bring people together and to affect them both intellectually and emotionally.”
Tickets for in-person and virtual viewing are on sale now at the Fox box office. In-person seating is limited to allow for social distancing, and tickets must be purchased in blocks on two, four and six.
For more information, visit foxtheaterspokane.org and call (509) 624-1200.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter
Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.