The story of Sleeping Beauty is coming to the Eagle Eye Theatre in December, but it’s not the same tale woven by the minds at Disney.
The Squamish Youth Ballet’s (SYB) version of the classic tale will remain close to the traditional ballet story, said director Shalimar Blanchard, who will also play the evil fairy Carrabosse in the production.
“It’s going to be quite close to the traditional ballet story — not the Disney version,” Blanchard said, noting that the play runs on Dec. 7 and 8. “In our version there is six protectors of Princess Aurora [Sleeping Beauty] and it was initially choreographed in the late 1800s in Russia, but there was a lot of French influence in it.”
Blanchard said the play is divided into a prologue and three acts, but the most challenging thing has been teaching her students how to tell a story through facial expressions and body movements, as no words are spoken throughout the play.
“The whole story is told without one word being spoken,” she said. “There’s a lot of relying on acting and movement. It’s sort of a ballet mime. Facial expressions are also important and how you move your body. I’m actually the evil fairy, which is a lot of fun for me and the little kids get such a kick out of it. Even some of the parents have said — wow you’re really good at that.”
The cast of 38 is made up of dancers between the ages of 8 and their 20s. Since August, the group has been working every weekend at the Howe Sound Dance Academy (HSDA) dance studio in Brackendale to perfect their performance.
“I’ve called upon some of my old faithfuls to step into roles for me,” she said. “It’s very cool to have them come back for this.”
As the big day draws closer, Blanchard said she hopes the nervous energy in her dancers can be transformed into strong performances.
“We had a turning point a few weeks ago,” she said. “I think everyone is getting more excited now and we’ve done a couple of run throughs in real time. They’re getting used to the anxiety of the quick costume changes that are needed in this play and everyone is getting more excited.”
Another challenge she has faced is balancing helping promising students attend important tryout sessions with the students showing up for rehearsal for Sleeping Beauty.
“Having a day of practice with everyone there can be difficult,” she said. “There are lots of dance auditions for schools in the summer and I want them to go to the auditions, but also it’s nice to have everyone there for rehearsal.”
Blanchard thanked her dancers’ parents who have continually brought their children to class while also juggling their other kids’ commitments like rep soccer or hockey.
Sleeping Beauty takes place at the Eagle Eye Theatre on Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. and on Dec. 8 with performances at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20 are available at the HSDA studio on Dec. 3 and 5 from 3:30 to 8 p.m. and also on the day of the performances.