The Ballet Co. Laboratory is presenting The Snow Queen as its holiday show this year. They’re filming it in stages at the Cowles Center for Dance and Performance to keep within the restrictions due to Covid-19. I had a chance at a sneak peek of rehearsal for the ballet, and I can’t wait to see the whole thing! Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of The Snow Queen is one of my favorite stories. It’s a hero’s journey, where Gerda, a young woman, goes out to rescue Kai (in some versions her brother, in others a friend) who has been lured away by the Snow Queen and the evil shards of glass that have entered his eye and heart. Along the way, she meets many characters, some more helpful than others! The story is set in seven chapters. The Co.Laboratory has designed the performance to fit with all levels of dancers, from as young as age 6 and up through adults. The groups are currently rehearsing at home and will come in separately to film their dances. They’ll use masks designed for costumes, like beaks for the birds, or clear masks for the principal characters so we can get the full facial expression and emotion. They’re using film elements, like green screen for when the mirror shatters, and technology to bring this story to audiences in the comfort and safety of their own homes.
I spoke with Rachel Koep, Managing director of Ballet Co. Laboratory. She said they are very excited to perform this unique piece. I hadn’t heard of a ballet of this story, and she said that it has been done in Europe. Choreographer Zoe’ Emily Henrot chose music from a female composer Ethyl Smyth for this production. From the few songs I heard, the music is lovely and fits the story well. You can read more in their press release.
It has been eight months since artists have been able to present work in theatres, but that has not stopped Ballet Co.Laboratory from training, creating, and performing. The professional ballet Company and more than 70 students from the School of Ballet Co.Laboratory will premiere The Snow Queen, a new ballet made for film, on December 19 – 20, 2020.
This virtual ballet, filmed at The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts, will embrace modern technology with a bit of movie magic in the form of special effects and behind-the-scenes footage. Ballet Co.Laboratory’s The Snow Queen will stream into audiences’ homes from any device on the two performance dates, making it accessible to viewers outside of the Twin Cities.
“We struggled with the idea of simply taking the film of last year’s live production of Nutcracker in Wonderland and releasing that as our virtual holiday production. This option would have been much easier, and cheaper for us as an organization, but it would have left our artists without a paycheck and our students with no holiday performance to work towards. The decision to create a new ballet for film not only keeps our artists working and students buzzing with excitement, but also gives audiences a new holiday production to enjoy together as we all celebrate the season from home,” shares Ballet Co.Laboratory Managing Director Rachel Koep.
The Snow Queen will be an interactive virtual experience with a live Q-and-A session with performers after each show. Ticket buyers will also receive a special holiday package delivered to their homes filled with bingo cards, themed cookie and drink recipes, and other activities households can enjoy as they watch the production.
“In early summer, as part of my creative process, I started exploring a variety of holiday tales. The Snow Queen really stood out to me because it celebrates the themes of winter rather than a particular holiday,” explains Ballet Co.Laboratory Artistic Director and The Snow Queen choreographer Zoé Emilie Henrot. The Snow Queen follows the story of Gerda, a little girl filled with moxie on a quest to rescue her brother whose heart has been frozen by an icy fragment of the Snow Queen’s enchanted mirror. Audience members will travel through infectious gardens, encounter wise reindeer, and get entangled with the Rose Queen as Gerda learns about the power of love, inner-strength, and the twist that proves things are not always as they seem.
While audiences are all-too-familiar with Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker score, Henrot sought to choose music from a female composer. The Snow Queen will feature music from Ethyl Smyth who, while prolific and active at the turn of the 20th century, never achieved the same status as some of her male counterparts.
While there is no doubt this holiday season feels different than any in recent memory, Ballet Co. Laboratory hopes The Snow Queen will bring joy, light, and a bit of sparkle to audiences near and far with this new, interactive virtual production.
Purchase your tickets before Dec. 11, so you can get the holiday package with activities inside! Go to Ballet Co. Laboratory website for more info and tickets!
Saturday, December 19 at 7:00 pm
Sunday, December 20 at 2:00 pm
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What are some of your favorite holiday or winter stories?