By Josh Whitener
The stage of Matthews’ Fullwood Theater will soon become a world of royalty and enchantment as members of the nonprofit Charlotte City Ballet Company celebrate spring with their upcoming performance, “The Dancing Princesses.”
Performances are scheduled for May 11, a Saturday, at 3 and 7 p.m. at the theater, 100 E. McDowell St., in Matthews. Tickets are $8 in advance online at www.CarolinaTix.org or www.CharlotteCityBallet.org or $12 at the door.
The ballet company also will host a reception after the 3 p.m. show where audience members can buy cupcakes from Cupcake Delirium for $3 each. Lemonade also will be served and those in attendance will get the chance to talk to the dancers and take a picture with them.
“The Dancing Princesses” tells the story of a group of cousin princesses, court jesters, princess attendants, court children and one gentlemanly gardener who tends the castle grounds. The characters learn of a secret garden that contains the most beautiful flowers imaginable, but tragedy strikes when the princesses refuse to heed the gardener’s warning – there’s a single flower in the garden that, if picked, will turn those who touch it into stone.
For years, the ballet company has performed their spring show in Matthews, and the past three years’ performances have been story ballets, which co-artistic director Melissa Hale Coyle said is appealing especially to younger audience members. Coyle will direct the show along with co-artistic director, Lisa Leone.
“One thing we like about a story ballet is it’s not just about dancing; (company members) get to develop a character, act a little more,” Coyle said. “There’s a lot of acting involved in it.”
Coyle said for the most part the company came up with their own storyline, borrowing a few elements – such as dancing princesses – from other sources. The cast of 26 features students ages 12 to 18 who are members of the company and take dance classes at the Sullivan Dance Center. Several younger dancers – ages 8 to 12 – also have been recruited from the company’s children’s division for various roles, such as the Meadow Mist – the only thing that can break the spell of the infamous flower.
One of the challenging things about the show, Coyle said, was coming up with music that fit the performance. Because the show is original, the company had to sample a handful of musical compositions to see what would work with each scene.
“There was a whole bunch of different music that we listened to (and asked) ‘Does that fit what we’re trying to do? What’s in the story?’” she said. “So it’s all different pieces of music put together, but with the same kind of style.”
Coyle said the company is borrowing a backdrop for the second act – the secret garden scene – and is pulling scenery saved from previous performances for other parts of the show. They’re also borrowing some of their costumes from other ballet schools and pulling others out of their own closet.
The company also hosts a holiday performance in December. Last year’s holiday show featured excerpts from classical ballet pieces like “Bolero” and “The Nutcracker Suite.”
The major difference between the two seasonal performances, Coyle said, is the spring performance tells a full story, which allows the dancers to exercise more creativity.
“The kids are very excited to be there,” she said. “It’s a very simple, sweet story, just pretty costumes and pretty sets, lots of flowers. It’s more of an uplifting performance.”