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Thursday November 27th 2014

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Footloose and Fancy Free

Ballet Pensacola Livens Up Their Season with Two Original World Premieres
Hana Frenette

With the addition of several full-time dancers and two world premieres released in the same season, Ballet Pensacola isn’t tiptoeing around the idea of making a name for itself.

Of the three performances scheduled for this year’s season, “The Nutcracker,” “American Icons,” and “The Counterpane Fairy,” two are original to Ballet Pensacola and will be performed for the very first time.

“The work that gets built here gets produced all over the world,” artistic director Richard Steinert said, “literally from France to L.A.”

Steinert is in his fourth season with Ballet Pensacola. Thus far, he has brought many innovative and cutting edge ideas to the stage, and has recruited dancers from all over the world.

“My job is to set the artistic vision and attain it,” Steinert explained. Steinert serves as the principal of the dance academy, maintains the syllabus for the school, and is in charge of anything and everything that crosses the stage.

The first performance of the season will be “The Counterpane Fairy,” which is based on a children’s book by Katharine Pyle. In the book, a young boy named Teddy is unable to go on an outing with his family and instead meets the Counterpane Fairy. The fairy asks the boy to select pieces of patchwork from a quilt and the boy and the fairy are taken from place to place, represented by the patches of the quilt.

“Almost 40 years ago, I promised my mother that I would direct a ballet performance based on this book,” Steinert said.

The right time finally presented itself and “The Counterpane Fairy” will debut on Oct. 29.

“My 84- and 85-year-old mother and father will be coming to see the performance,” Steinert added. And the promise is fulfilled. The second performance of the season will be the Christmas classic, “The Nutcracker.”

“‘The Nutcracker’ is the bread and butter of every ballet company,” Steinert said.

Steinert laughed and continued, “If I didn’t do it, I would be lynched.”

The music of Tchaikovsky, including “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” accompanies the dancers through the story of Clara and the Nutcracker Prince.

The last performance will be “American Icons,” which will be a world premiere as well. “‘American Icons’ is brand new to Ballet Pensacola, and is a production based on uniquely American points of view,” Steinert said.

The ballet is inspired by American playwrights, poets, and musicians, and features music from artists like Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley.

“I wanted this to serve as a brief reminder of what a great place this is, and that what we have is truly wonderful,” Steinert said.
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THE COUNTERPANE FAIRY
WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29
WHERE: Saenger Theatre, 118 S. Palafox Place
COST: $12
DETAILS: 432-2042, or balletpensacola.com

THE NUTCRACKER
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 17-18 and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19
WHERE: Saenger Theatre, 118 S. Palafox Place
COST: $17-$30
DETAILS: 432-2042, or balletpensacola.com

AMERICAN ICONS
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 18-19
WHERE: Pensacola Cultural Center, 400 S. Jefferson St.
COST: $17- $30
DETAILS: 432-2042, or balletpensacola.com