Hansel (Cody Maggiore), Gretel (Sally Grindstaff) and the Witch (Christin Severini) perform in Dance Arts Los Alamos Winterfest Weekend. Photo by Paulo T. Photography
By Lynn Finnegan
When Dance Arts Los Alamos Ballet Director and former American Ballet Theatre dancer Christin Severini was a young child, she would spend many hours choreographing and performing elaborate shows for her parents, with the reluctant participation of her younger brothers.
The rest is, as they say, history. The storybook ballet, “Hansel & Gretel”, performing Winterfest Weekend at Duane Smith Auditorium, is an original ballet directed and choreographed by Severini, with additional choreography by DALA’s executive director Valerie Silks and ballet instructor Lisa Jaegers.
“Hansel & Gretel” tells the story of the young siblings Hansel and Gretel as they go through a magical journey, overcoming great adversity and challenges.
This playful and spirited ballet features enchanting woodland fairies and pixies, colorful candies, and lovable bunnies, butterflies, and gingerbread girls who guide them along the way.
Severini’s career with ABT gave her the opportunity to perform in numerous full length story ballets and she is delighted to bring this talent to the Los Alamos community.
“Story ballets were some of my favorite ballets to perform,” recalls Severini, “I loved the variety of characters, the intensity of emotion, and the comedic elements. And the music was always so beautiful!”
Hansel & Gretel is far from a one-woman show, however. Severini, who encourages her students to participate in the creative process, emphasizes that the production has only been made possible by the exemplary level of dance training at DALA.
“I was able to develop choreography that challenged our most advanced students as well as provided fun performance opportunities for the youngest pre-ballet age students,” Severini explains. “While I do hold very high standards in my classes, I encourage my students to find their own expression in their dancing.”
Cody Maggiore, 14, and Sally Grindstaff, 15, will dance the roles of Hansel & Gretel. Holly Erickson, a Los Alamos High School senior, dances the role of the Queen of Flowers.
Joining them on the stage will be dancers from DALA’s seven levels of ballet and faculty Patrick McDonald and Kim Hoch in the roles of Hansel & Gretel’s parents.
Severini will reignite her love of storybook ballet performance in the comedic role of the Witch. DALA additionally brings new and creative set design (wait until you see the Witch’s oven!) and exquisite costumes to this exciting premiere performance.
The magic of “Hansel & Gretel” is DALA’s special holiday gift to Los Alamos in celebration of its 20th Anniversary and is a perfect compliment to the “Fantasies and Fairytales” Winterfest Weekend.
Performances at Duane Smith Auditorium are 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7 and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and Dec. 9.
Following the Saturday show, the youngest audience members are welcome to enjoy a first-hand experience of coming on stage and taking photos with the performers.
Tickets are $15/adults, $10 students/senior and FREE for children under age four, and are available at CB FOX, White Rock Smith’s and at the door.
Front row from left, (Gretel’s Friends): Catherine Rousculp, Shayna Mallett, Nicole Stafford and Camille Rousculp. Back row from left, (Flowers): Jenna Erickson, Lauren Burr, Holly Erickson, Deanna Gutierrez and Melina Burnside. Middle row from left, (Hansel & Gretel): Cody Maggiore and Sally Grindstaff. Photo by Paulo T. Photography