A Thumbs-Up Spring-time Ballet Production

Published in Pasadena Now: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 | 12:55 PM


On June 29 and 30, California Contemporary Ballet will perform Thumbelina, a classic fairy-tale adapted for ballet that will endear kids and adults alike

Kick off the Spring season with a dose of fairy dust, as California Contemporary Ballet performs Thumbelina at Glendale Community College this June 29 and 30.
Adding to the company’s tradition of performing Hans Christian Andersen classics, California Contemporary Ballet’s adaptation of Thumbelina is designed to appeal to both young and adult audiences.

“We perform two big productions a year. Our biggest production is the Snow Queen Ballet which we perform every December at Glendale Community College and then we deliver a spring show, featuring members of our professional company, which is normally a much smaller production, and usually features choreography that is experimental and contemporary,” says Aerin Holt, the Company’s Artistic Director.

“This year, we decided on a spring performance that would provide opportunities for our professional dancers to perform the principal characters within the story and cast members of our Youth Company in supporting roles. Students from the associated school, California DanceArts were given the opportunity to audition for roles and some of the children were cast in roles of Dew Drops and Younger Fairies. We found that the young dancers really benefit from working along-side more experienced dancers.” Holt explains.

“What’s a story about Fairies without young children,” she adds.

Just because the story is about a diminutive fairy, does not mean the production will be.
Holt also tells us that aside from her direction, the production also utilizes the talents of guest choreographer, Lynn Bryson Pittenger.

“She’s working on certain areas of the ballet and that’s going really well and she’s great to work with,” says Holt.

Ballet fans will notice that Thumbelina is not your typical ballet production. Far from the usual Romeo & Juliet or Nutcracker Suite performances, the Company decided to be a little more adventurous. Why choose Thumbelina?

“Thumbelina is a story that I always felt would make a great ballet. As a young dance student, I often daydreamed about Thumbelina dancing in her giant tulip. I envisioned huge flowers and toadstools but was unsure how I would be able to develop all that I envisioned on stage. Through the years of creating choreography and directing ballets my ideas have evolved. Dwight agreed to compose the music and volunteers came forward to create the huge set pieces. The time is right and everything has come together nicely,” says Holt.

In the spirit of the ever popular Cirque du Soleil culture, Holt tells us, “in Thumbelina, we have an aerialist who performs as the spider and it’s very exciting to see her perform on her net. It’s also challenging as she performs 20 feet in the air.”

Many might think that Thumbelina will be geared towards younger audiences, but Holt tells us otherwise.

“The more I’m working it, the more I really, really love how it’s developing. Together with the choreography that we are developing and with Dwight’s music that he’s producing for us and the talents that we have on the stage, this is a really cool ballet,” she says.

Holt also adds that the production will “utilize a lot of different dance styles as well as the viewpoint, the perspective of a tiny little dancer and making my entire company look like little tiny people, and I think that’s exciting. It will be a show that both children and adults will enjoy.”

Tickets are $20 to $30 and can be purchased at www.calballet.com. Group tickets are also available for purchase.

Glendale Community College is located as 1500 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale and show dates will be on June 29th at 7:30 pm, and June 30th at 2:00 pm.

To learn more about California Contemporary Ballet, you can visit www.calballet.com or call (818) 790-7924.

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