One thing the Charleston Ballet Theatre always has done well is forge intimate alliances between professional dancers and young students. It can do this because it operates both a performance company and a ballet school that cultivates talent beginning at a very early age.
That alliance was on full display Saturday afternoon, at the first performance of the ballet’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” part of the Children’s Series, presented at the Sottile Theatre. A final performance is scheduled for 2 p.m. today.
Though the ballet organization has been struggling to cope with the loss of nearly all of its board members (the second time this has happened within a year) and various financial and administrative challenges, none of that turmoil was discernable at “Snow White.”
Instead, a substantial audience that included many children was treated to an appealing version of the classic tale. The cartoon-like concept was the idea of choreographer Jill Eathorne Bahr, who also was featured as the invisible narrator. The production used music of Eric Satie and Herbert Baumann, and the dancers donned the tasteful costumes of John Goodwin and ballet founder Don Cantwell. Cantwell also made the simple but effective sets.
Bahr got choreographic help from Patty Cantwell who has been working with the school children. They were all lovely to behold — the older fireflies and assistants to the queen, younger princesses of the forest, charming raccoons and elegant flowers.
One young dancer, 9-year-old Satya Tranfield, who was the hummingbird, practically stole the show. She danced with the grace and beauty of someone who very probably will make ballet a big part of her life for years to come.
The professional dancers worked their charm, too. The seven dwarfs goofed about humorously. The statuesque Evil Queen (Melissa Weber) projected her malice in an effective classical guise. Snow White (Tabitha Alessi) plie’d and jete’d with an appropriate innocence and lightness of being. The Bad Apple (Crystal Wellman) excelled at appearing red and edible, and danced with panache. Prince Charmin’ (Alexey Kulpin) stood out as the expert Russian-trained ballet master he is. Erect, disciplined, centered, his turns were spot on, his straight-kneed kicks were an easy 60 degrees off the floor and his lifts (of Snow White) were solid.
He revived Snow White with a kiss. What will it take to revive the Charleston Ballet Theatre?