‘The Little Prince’ is coming to Vail Dance Festival, but BalletX’s version is more than just a ballet
Special to the Daily
When BalletX comes into town from Philadelphia, Vail Valley locals and visitors show up to watch. Led by artistic and executive director Christine Cox, the dance company will once again grace the stage at the Vail Dance Festival.
This Tuesday evening, July 30, BalletX will present its first full-length story ballet by a female choreographer, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s “The Little Prince.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novella has inspired millions since its publication in 1943, and now the story is the inspiration for this new ballet, featuring new music composed and performed by Peter Salem.
“There are certain books you read when you’re young that stay with you for all your life, and ‘The Little Prince’ is certainly one of them,” Lopez Ochoa said. “When I’ve re-read the book at different stages of my life, I’ve discovered more details and unraveled hidden meanings behind the symbolism.”
Lopez Ochoa notes that while the original work was ostensibly styled and written as a children’s book, “The Little Prince” makes several observations about life and human nature.
“Upon turning 45, the realization of my own mortality made me suddenly aware of the transiency of life. With that in mind, I decided to give the character of the Snake, who represents Death, a more prominent role in this adaptation,” she said. “Death is omnipresent and the only certainty we have in our lives. We shouldn’t fear it; on the contrary, we should let it inspire us to live without restraint.”
BalletX dancer Stanley Glover plays the role of the Snake in this show. He said he loves taking a character or animal and seeing how he can portray it with his body.
“It’s really fun to figure out ways my body can resemble the slow and fast nuances of a snake,” he said. “I’m barefoot in this, so that’s different than normal, and you can see the animalistic ways I am articulating movement from head to toe.”
Because BalletX is known for breaking the mold, Glover said this show is perfect for the dance company because it encompasses more than just dance.
“It’s also acting and figuring out ways to bring that story to life without speaking,” he said.
Lopez Ochoa said when she dives into a story and its characters, she searches for which particular movement language would suit each character.
“‘The Little Prince’ offers such diverse characters that it was a lot of fun to create a unique movement language for each one of them,” she said. “I think that ballet lends itself so well for the poetry and symbolism in this story. The starting point being that children have a boundless imagination, translated into the fact that ‘The Little Prince’ sees his much-needed sheep in the box that the Pilot draws for him. The symbolism of the box is translated in the set being made of 350 white cardboard boxes. I wanted to invite/incite the audience to use their imagination and ‘see’ the different places where the story takes us: the desert, the mountains, the planets, the cosmos in these 350 white boxes.”
As Lopez Ochoa described, ‘The Little Prince’ takes the audience on a dynamic journey of colorful friendships, encounters, love, loss, and ultimately death which, once one has finally found the sweet taste of love, the separation is extremely painful but unavoidable. The colorful costumes, and joyful melodies of Salem’s music make the Little Prince a ballet for young and old.
BalletX: “The Little Prince” begins at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30 at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Visit http://www.vaildance.org for more information and to reserve seating.
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