March 27, 2008

 Navigation

   Home Page

 News & Features

   News

 Columns & Opinions

   Publisher's Note

   Boomers

   Pinings

   Longshots

   Techie

 Pop Culture

   Film

   TV

   Books
   Video Games
   CD Reviews

 Living

   Food

   Wine

   Beer

 Music

   Articles

   Music Roundup

   Live Music/DJs

   MP3 & Podcasts

   Bandmates

 Arts

   Theater

   Art

 Classifieds

   View Classified Ads

   Place a Classified Ad

 Advertising

   Advertising

   Rates

 Contact Us

   Hippo Staff

   How to Reach The Hippo

 Past Issues

   Browse by Cover


These aren’t recitals, folks
NBT and NEDE bring in the professionals for Cinderella and Coppelia
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

Tucked away in what looks like a former firehouse near Dr. Crisp School in Nashua, professional dancers rehearse in converted studio space. Some are imported under contract from out of state and are preparing for Northern Ballet Theatre’s production of Cinderella.

The second-floor space is about the size of a stage, and artistic director Doreen Cafarella worked with dancers and stood in for characters on March 20 while Susie Michaud ran through rehearsals of scenes with the ugly stepsisters. Cafarella choreographed the ballet while Michaud, who has more of a musical theater background, choreographed the more comical elements with the stepsisters.

The rehearsal looks like Michaud is plotting a course, trying to get the dancers and actors across the stage in various directions to various places within a certain number of counts. It’s a lot of work for a scene that might last a few minutes or less.

Cinderella is played by Jung Min Lee, born in Seoul, South Korea. Her credits with Joffrey Ballet 2 include roles in Swan Lake and La Fille Mal Gardee. She danced a principal role with Chicago’s Alma Dance in their new production, Frankenstein, as Frankenstein’s bride.  

Jung Min Lee’s elegant, graceful performance in rehearsal contrasts with the laughs that the stepmother and stepsisters are going for. You have to be pretty talented to purposefully look awkward in ballet, Cafarella pointed out. Company member Caitlyn Brandt has comic flair and was cast as a stepsister, she said. Northern pulled in local actors, brother and sister, Brandon and Jennifer Mallard, to pull off the physical comedy of the stepmother and other stepsister. Brandon has been involved with NBT for eight seasons.

Carafella said part of NBT’s mission (she originally founded Granite State Ballet) is to bring professional dance to New Hampshire, although it’s not easy. When people hear of an upcoming ballet performance, they envision “3-year-olds” and “tutus,” she said. They don’t realize professional dancers are hired.

“This is their job,” Cafarella said. “This is their passion ...  you’re going to see all that passion on stage,” she said.

NBT went professional in 1998, and performs two or three shows per year, although they took last season off. A lot of professional companies are having a hard time, particularly the smaller regional companies, Cafarella said.

“What I’m trying to do is bring the mountain to Mohamed, here,” said Barbara Mullen, director of New England Dance Ensemble, based in Londonderry. Professional dancers play principal roles for NEDE, joined on stage by high-level NEDE students.

Guest artists Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews became soloists with the American Ballet Theatre in New York this summer. They appear with NEDE as the leads in Coppelia April 5 and 6.

To see Kajiya and Matthews perform in New York would probably cost you about $125, Mullen said. “We’re bringing that caliber of dancers to New Hampshire,” for tickets that cost $25 to $35, she said.

“It’s important to me to keep the arts of that quality alive in southern New Hampshire,” Mullen said.

Tickets for Cinderella are priced affordably at $18 and less, but with the costumes, sets, and payments for the dancers, and other expenses, the bill for four shows comes up to around $60,000 for NBT. The company uses grants and sponsorships and other funding tools, rather than rely on ticket sales.

And Cafarella wants to keep it accessible to young people so they can gain exposure to the arts. This is a way to see professional dancers without traveling to a major city, she said.

“The men are fabulous,” Cafarella said. The professional male dancers play the jester, courtiers and others. The prince is played by Nathan Bland from northern California. He’s danced professionally with Kansas City Ballet, Eugene Ballet, and most recently with Lazar Ballet NYC and Connecticut Ballet.   

Mullen, whose son works for the University of Florida football team, said she’d like to see the youth of today “exposed to culture at the same quality and level that they are exposed to in sports.”

Watching the dancers rehearse, you realize they are pretty much made out of muscle. Mullen said that the demands in choreography have made ballet dancers become more athletic in the past decade. (And here I had thought that how blown away I am by dancers’ abilities was directly related to how old or sedentary I am.)

“It’s obviously, wonderful, beautiful, artistic movement, but it takes an athlete to pull it all off,” Mullen said.

Mullen said rather than choreographing Coppelia, she is recreating the piece. She taught dance history at UNH for 10 years, and pulls from that, inquiries to New York teachers and other research.

“There’s just so much detail that’s gone into the performance. And it’s to share, it’s my gift to the community,” Mullen said.

NEDE is using 40 local dancers who auditioned, many of whom have rehearsed one day a week since October. Most are mature students, and a small group of children are being given the opportunity to perform in a folk dance scene, Mullen said.

NEDE usually performs four times a year — including The Nutcracker and A Child’s View of the Holocaust, which they’ve toured to schools and universities and plan to take to New York.

Coppelia is also a humorous story about a young couple. The girl sees the boy blow kisses to a beautiful woman in a window. They assume it’s a woman, but the girl discovers it’s actually a doll, and breaks into the toy shop to take the doll’s place and catch her man in the act.

NBT’s company rehearses every day for six weeks and uses elaborate sets with a balcony and costuming.

“It’s such an enchanting fairy tale,” Cafarella said of Cinderella.

Both Northern Ballet and New England Dance Ensemble are using recorded music rather than live orchestras. Hiring live musicians to perform Leo Delibes’ Coppelia would have upped NEDE’s budget another $25,000. Plus no actual orchestra pit is built into the new Bedford High School 850-seat auditorium. Whereas NBT last performed Cinderella in 1997, NEDE is starting from scratch with Coppelia, which will cost them about $40,000.


Coppélia
What: New England Dance Ensemble presents Coppélia
Who: Professional guest artists Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews, soloists with the American Ballet Theatre in New York, and Peter O’Brian from the Royal Ballet.
When: Saturday, April 5, at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, April 6, at 2 p.m.
Where: Bedford High School Theater, 47B Nashua Road, Bedford
Tickets: $25, $30, $35
Info: 1-800-595-4TIX, www.nede.org

Cinderella
What: Northern Ballet Theatre’s presents Cinderella 
Who: Choreographed by artistic director Doreen Cafarella. Professional dancers Nathan Bland, who has attended ABT NY and Joffrey NY, and JungMin Lee, who has danced with Joffrey Ballet 2.  
When and where: Saturday, March 29, at 1 and 4 p.m. at the Stockbridge Theatre, 5 Pinkerton St. at the Pinkerton Academy in Derry; Saturday, April 5, at 2 and 7 p.m. at the Keefe Auditorium, 117 Elm St. at the Elm Street Middle School in Nashua.
Tickets: $12-$18.
Info: 889-8406, www.nbti.org.

3/20/2008 Albee at MRT

3/13/2008 Murder and rhinos
3/6/2008 Murder and rhinos
2/28/2008 The art of theater criticism
2/21/2008 Breaking the cycle
2/14/2008 Curtain Calls
2/7/2008 NH Theatre awards sixth year
1/31/2008 Elvis fans and ghost stories
1/24/2008 Building an audience
1/17/2008 Curtain Calls
1/10/2008 Fate of Annicchiarico
1/3/2008 A little confidence
12/27/2007 Stage notables in 2007
12/20/2007 If all they want for Christmas is two good seats ...
12/13/2007 Summer stock vs. southern NH
12/06/2007 Curtain Calls
11/29/2007 Curtain Calls
11/22/2007 Broadway composer and actress hit Granite State
11/15/2007 One-man play turns audience into students
11/8/2007 Curtain calls
11/1/2007 First times
10/25/2007 Curtain Calls
10/18/2007 Curtain Calls
10/11/2007 American History
10/04/2007 Active in the community
9/27/2007 Stringing single
9/20/2007 Curtain Calls
9/13/2007 Free range
9/6/2007 Curtain Calls
8/30/2007 Curtain Calls
8/23/2007 Curtain Calls
8/16/2007 Curtain Calls
8/9/2007 Curtain Calls
8/2/2007 That deaf, dumb and blind kid
7/26/2007 Potty humor
7/19/2007 Ease on down the road
7/12/2007 Jekyll vs. Hyde
7/5/2007 If it's free, it's for me
6/28/2007 Transformations
6/21/2007 Curtain calls
6/14/2007 No really, you'll get it
6/7/2007 Curtain calls
5/31/2007 Curtain calls
5/24/2007 Putting the camp in camp
5/17/2007 Curtain Calls
5/10/2007 Curtain Calls
5/3/2007 Curtain Calls
4/26/2007 Still going strong
4/19/2007 Vietnam the the Palace
4/12/2007 Confluence
4/5/2007 First look
3/29/2007 Reluctant star
3/15/2007 In a town far away
3/8/2007 Curtain calls
3/1/2007 Into the future
2/22/2007 But will it play in New Hampshire
2/15/2007 Curtain calls
2/8/2007 Family affair
2/1/2007 Curtain calls
1/25/2007 Curtain calls
1/18/2007 Curtain calls
1/11/2007 Curtain calls
1/4/2007 Fork in the road
12/28/2006 Standout performances of '06
12/21/2006 Curtain Calls
12/14/2006 Players remember Peter Bridges
12/07/2006 Young talent
11/30/2006 Lighthearted farce for the holidays
11/23/2006 Curtain Calls
11/16/2006 Good theater
11/9/2006 Preview roundup
11/2/2006 Access to the ancients
10/26/2006 Aida on a Nashua stage
10/19/2006 Children of a Lesser God brilliantly played
10/12/2006 A true love triangle
10/05/2006 Curtain Calls
09/28/2006 Bringing people back to life
09/21/2006 Getting judged
09/14/2006 Long strange journey
09/07/2006 Curtain Calls
08/31/2006 Curtain Calls
08/24/2006 Putting kids in charge
08/17/2006 Curtain Calls
08/10/2006 All theater, all summer
08/03/2006 A Jesus musical, reworked
07/27/2006 A match made in Maine
07/20/2006 Variations on a theme
07/13/2006 I Hate Hamlet
07/06/2006 Serious theater
06/29/2006 L.A. in Peterborough
06/22/2006 Da Vinci to Rube Goldberg
06/15/2006 Peter Bridges remembered
06/08/2006 From Hairspray to monkeys
06/01/2006 Special Theatrics
05/25/2006 Live Brit-com
05/18/2006 Evil stepsisters earn the yuks
05/11/2006 A message to mom
05/04/2006 Meet the cast
04/27/2006 'I hope i get it'
04/20/2006 Find yourself in Yonkers
04/13/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
04/06/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
03/30/2006 Cabaret is Mnchester bound
03/23/2006 A 42nd Street detour
03/16/2006 Actor-director wants your ideas
02/23/2006 Yellow Taxi's Theater Festival opens March 1
02/16/2006 Herding CATS
02/09/2006 An actors' studio
02/02/2006 A thing about love
01/26/2006 Spring theater season warming up
01/19/2006 Gearing up for the big night
01/12/2006 This Phantom is not a menace
01/05/2006 Jim Kelly, sci-fi writer and alternate historian
10th anniversary at Capitol Center
10 Ways To Survive The Audition
A Chorus Line
A Figaro Worth Cheering
A 'Living Newspaper' on stage
A tale of two wives
A Tribute To Music
Actorsingers Deliver On Superstar
Beauty and the Beast
Bedford Off-Broadway Gets Spooky
Being The Beatles, 1964 The Tribute
Bringing NYC to Wilton
Creating the venue from antiques
Crimes Of The Heart
Curtain to rise on Dana Center
Dana Center Takes Center Stage
Ensemble elevates Palace’s Godspell
From stage to the silver screen
Great play, too bad it’s over
Greater Tuna
Humble Boy
It’s cabaret, hear it sing, joke, tease
It's Child's Play
Jesus Christ Superstar
Kids Tackle Edgar Allan Poe
Local boy hits the big time, doesn’t lose his head
Lowell theater opens with a winner of a satire
Madco welcomes Boston actor-director
Meet John Sefel, Director
Meet Suzanne Delle, Yellow Taxi’s driver
Music Man to run three weekends
New Thalian Players
Palace announces 2005-06 season
Peterborough Players’ Solidarity is solid gold
Plaid
Plaid (II)
Playing with man’s best friend
Proud of the Peacock
Racy, crazy blast at the Palace
Reviving His Passion
Robert Dionne, The man behind the Majestic
Rosemary Dann
Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know
Short-Attention Span Theater
Side Show
Sideshow slips sideways
Spending The Summer On Stage
Stages of learning
Steel Magnolias
Suessical: The Musical
Theater Of The Imagination
Theater Kids Without A School
Theater in the park draws big
The Drawer Boy
The Festival
The Five best shows of 2005
The Prisoner Of Second Avenue
The Russian/American Kids Circus
The Senator Wore Pantyhose
The Tony Awards, they're grrrrreat
The Warmth Of The Cold
Three nights, three shows at the Palace
Tosca

Under the Caribbean with the little mermaid

Wake up to ‘night Mother