Arkansas Festival Ballet’s ‘Snow White’
Arkansas Repertory Theatre
The Arkansas Festival Ballet’s performance of “Snow White,” the young group’s first full-length production of a ballet, was entertaining, professional and at times endearingly comical. The story, told through music and dance, was easily understood and the costumes and props made it exciting to watch. The dancers were mostly children and young adults who ranged in skill level from adorable, wide-eyed beginner to budding professional.
Act I began a little slowly as the audience adjusted to what sounded like a rickety old record being used to play the music of Edvard Grieg for the dancers to move to. The pops, cracks, static and speakers falling in and out were quite distracting from the excellent performance happening on stage.
The highlight by far was the graceful solo performances of Snow White (Julia Aronson) and the Good Fairy of the Woods (Allison Stearns). The dancers’ professionalism and skill level were astonishing, especially for the age level of most of the group. The older dancers had the lead roles, and some who looked as young as 5 or 6 years old accompanied them.
The show went smoothly from song to song as the dancers told the story of Snow White’s exile, near fatal incident with an apple, and magical rejuvenation, but the blackouts between acts were noticeably long, dark and loud. Some lasted what seemed like five minutes, leaving the audience in darkness while the length of an entire song blared uncomfortably in the speakers.
The two sets were minimal, consisting in Act I of the magic mirror on the wall and in Act II through III of the entrance to the seven Woodsmen’s cottage. Needing as much dancing room as possible for the large cast, lighting was used cleverly, instead of props, to create a forest of shadows behind the dancers.
The costumes of the wood nymphs, fairies, fireflies and leaves were all simple and elegant. Most were neutral colors and used props like wings, leaves, birds and berries to signify the forest. The Queen’s Court wore darker, more intricate costumes; some, like the lizards and the furies, covered the dancers’ entire bodies and faces, and it seemed like it would be difficult to move. But the young dancers pulled the night off without a glitch.
Second to the graceful solos by the two lead female dancers was the entertaining performance of the children in the ballet. They danced on stage, falling in and out of character as they fumbled with their costumes and grinned at the audience, hardly missing a single step. It was apparent that everyone on stage was having a great time and enjoying performing for the crowd. The children’s excitement and awareness of the audience made watching even more fun. Director Mark Bush’s retelling of the old classic was creative, imaginative and well danced.