With its full-length production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," based on Shakespeare's play, the Utah Ballet will stage one of its most elaborate and complex undertakings. Performances will be in Kingsbury Hall on May 18, 19 and 20 at 8 p.m., with a matinee Saturday at 2 p.m.
Artistic director Conrad Ludlow has choreographed this ballet to the incidental music and some additional overtures of Mendelssohn. The story ballet recounts the fortunes and misfortunes of a group of mortals and immortals on that magical night of the year when the veil between the dream world and reality grows very thin.Ludlow, formerly a principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet and New York City Ballet, was a soloist in the premiere of NYCB's "Midsummer Night's Dream" in 1962, and in the film version of 1966, both choreographed and directed by George Balanchine.
Ludlow acknowledges that his "Dream" owes considerable inspiration to Balanchine. "It's inevitable," he said, "but I have been free to do things my own way. Balanchine telescoped his story in the first act, then had divertissements and show pieces for the rest. I scatter the story through all three acts. And you must do more than just narrate, there must be a lot of dancing, and that's the hard part. Each act ends with a considerable ensemble."
The company of 24 dancers will be assisted by about 50 children from Utah ballet studios, who will dance elves, moths and butterflies, alternating in two casts.
The production's beautiful costumes are by David Heuvel, longtime costumer for Ballet West, who has worked in close association with Utah Ballet's resident designer, Jan Elam. Heuvel, who had constructed costumes for most of Ballet West's repertory during the past 10 years, has also designed for many western companies since coming here from South Africa's PACT Ballet. Scenery of huge green leaves and tree stocks, designed by Michael Allman, gives the impression of fairy folk dwarfed by the real world.
Among company members alternating in leading roles are Jef Horn and David Woods as Oberon; Frances Tiberi, Diane Fisher and Holly Williams as Titania; Robyn Johnson and Jeannine Chan as Puck; Brad Wright and Scott Mitchell as Bottom; Shelly Speir and Jennifer Adams as Hippolyta, and Woods and Vincent Baltierre as Theseus.
Ludlow is happy about his company this year, which experienced very little turnover. "We have had almost all experienced dancers this season, but many of them will graduate," he said. "We do have some promising newcomers for next year." As usual, graduating Utah Ballet members are auditioning for professional companies, and some have been accepted.
The company toured to several Utah locations during the year, and Ludlow was especially pleased with sell-out receptions in Moab and Midvale. "Utahns are delighted to have us come out to them," he said.
Tickets for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will be $7, or $4 for students, children and senior citizens. The Saturday matinee is a benefit for the Mountain West Ronald McDonald House, underwritten by ZCMI. Tickets will be only $1, with a coupon available at participating ZCMI stores and McDonald's Restaurants. For box office information, call 581-7100.