Change is good. In 1995, the University of Utah Department of Ballet presented "The Snow Maiden," a work that combined dance with hand-held puppets.

By 1998, the production had grown to include larger-than-life puppets controlled by mechanical gizmos created by the U. Department of Engineering.This year, there are a couple of new dance segments that will make the story a bit clearer, said U. Ballet artistic director Richard Wacko. "The new works are called 'Spirit of the Wind' and 'Thunder Spirits'," Wacko explained. "There is a part in the performance where the Snow Maiden is to be protected by the Wind and Thunder. And before, it wasn't as explained. These two additions will help clarify and add to the story."

"The Snow Maiden" or "Snegurochka " is the story of the daughter of Fairy Spring and Father Frost, and her quest for human love. The ballet is based on a play by Alexander Ostrovski, which was later made into an opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Utah Ballet's "The Snow Maiden" will run Dec. 2-4, at Kingsbury Hall, at 7:30 p.m. There will also be a matinee Dec. 4, at 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale at all ArtTix outlets or by calling (801) 355-ARTS (2787). Tickets can also be purchased by calling Kingsbury Hall at (801) 581-7100.

The music, said Wacko, was originally composed by Tchaikovsky. And to make the production a whole evening's worth, bits and pieces of other lesser-known Tchaikovsky works were added for "The Snow Maiden," said Wacko. "We decided to add these two other segments and we needed more music."

Maureen Laird searched out the music and choreographed the two works. "I started a search last summer," Laird said of the two Tchaikovsky selections used. "One thing about Tchaikovsky is, he teases with melodies. But I found a melody that grew, and it worked wonderfully."

By the end of September, Laird had begun choreographing the work.

"Thunder protects the Snow Maiden, and Wind placates her once she finds herself among the humans," Laird explained. "As for their personalities, Wind is a bit mischievous, and the two Thunder gods are always warring. They are always at odds with each other."