An old ballet with a fresh feel is being brought back to Brigham Young University as the Theatre Ballet performs “The Snow Queen” as part of the school’s annual “Ballet in Concert” series.
The full-length ballet begins tonight in the Pardoe Theatre and will be performed nightly through Saturday.
"The Snow Queen," originally presented at BYU in 2004, has been revamped and is being restaged to honor Sandra Allen, who originally presented and helped choreograph the former production, and who is retiring from the BYU dance department after a 44-year career.
"Originally this ballet was Sandra Allen's idea," said Shani Robison, Theatre Ballet artistic director. "She hoped it could come to the stages here at BYU and create something magical and fun. I thought it would be fitting, as Sandra is retiring in August, that we do this ballet that she has always had such ambitions for."
"The Snow Queen" is an original ballet with new choreography by Robison, Allen, and Kalise Child -- all full-time faculty members at BYU -- and was created based around the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Allen envisioned the story being staged years ago as an alternative to another popular wintertime ballet.
"It was my idea to do 'The Snow Queen' because there were so many 'Nutcrackers' around," Allen said. "I thought 'The Snow Queen' was a story that had so many important values and morals over the traditional 'Nutcracker' story, and felt like it would be a great winter tradition."
While the ballet is similar to its original run, with the same sets, costumes and storyline, Allen said it has evolved into a more polished production. "We've perfected the use of the sets. We've found even better music, done a lot more musical research. We've improved the choreography, improved the dramatic read. The story comes through, and the dancers are becoming true actors as well as beautiful dancers."
The ballet includes 23 dancers from BYU, seven guest performers, and 15 young ballet students from the community. It is a story of loss, redemption and love told through friends Gerda and Kai, who journey from the rooftops of a Danish city to the enchanted palace of the evil Snow Queen. Through the pernicious doings of the Snow Queen, Kai is separated from Gerda and she must embark on a long journey to find him, melt his icy heart and help him love again.
Allen said the ballet appeals to children, who will enjoy the magical quality of the fairy tale, and to adults, who will pick up on the symbolism Andersen used to disseminate the values presented in his tales.
"His stories were famous for having a multilayer appeal to the youth as well as adults, who could understand the symbols and apply those good morals in their adult years," she said.
And while Allen said the restaging of the ballet honoring her development of the ballet program is "too much attention," she also said she's enjoyed every minute of its creation and her years at BYU. "It's been a marvelous journey."