Hansel and Gretel
Saturday - June 9, 2001
This completely original production was Mr. Wilcox’s first full-length ballet, choreographed in 1982 as Long Beach Ballet Arts Center’s 2nd annual school production. The original Grimms tale was adapted to accommodate a large cast and the musical score is a compilation of beautiful yet relatively unknown classical music. The creation of this ballet was a challenging yet rewarding endeavor, as witness to the final version certainly proves. Lively festive dances fill the first tableaux, with subsequent scenes developing the suspense and story. The characters of Hansel and Gretel, their mother and father and the witch are all vividly portrayed in the music as well as the choreography. Even the town mayor has his own musical theme.
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Villagers in a small German town are practicing dances and setting up decorations for a big festival. Two of the children of the village- Hansel and Gretel -- are very poor and are always ready to snatch up unattended bits of cake or candy. Suddenly the preparations are interrupted by the appearance of a wicked witch who lives in the nearby forest. The villagers plead to be left in peace. Meanwhile, Hansel and Gretel's mother is doing her best to prepare something out of nothing for dinner. The children arrive home to help with chores but end up playing instead, which helps them to forget their constant hunger. Outside the cottage, their father pays two men to take the children to another village in the middle of the night. Hansel and Gretel's parents are so poor there is not enough food for them all, and they must send the children away to another family. However, the men who are to carry Hansel and Gretel through the forest are dishonest, and instead of carrying them the long distance as they had promised, they leave them alone with the animals in the darkest wood. As dawn breaks, a beautiful cottage made of cake and candy appears in a clearing. It is the witch's home and when she returns with her two gnome helpers she catches them eating and locks them up. The witch plans to cook Hansel and Gretel in her big oven, but they are too clever and Gretel slams the door forever on the witch's evilness. When the villagers hear what has happened, they celebrate joyously and all of the witch's wealth is bestowed upon the heroic Hansel and Gretel. They are reunited with their mother and father and live happily ever after .
Created and Directed by David Wilcox
Additional choreography by Hilde Byrne
Costumes by Ann de Farra
Lighting by Curtis Gathe
Swan Lake, Act II
For the first time in 20 years this year’s Annual School Performance has a different format. The performance will be divided into two ballets—one for the younger students and one for the students in the higher levels. Levels 5, 6 and 7 will perform the 2nd act from the world’s most famous ballet, “Swan Lake,” a ballet that requires an advanced level of technique and style.
Prince Siegfried has received a new crossbow for his birthday and he decides to go hunting in the forest to try it out. He approaches a lake and sees a flock of swans swimming.
Aiming his crossbow at the lead swan, he is suddenly so struck by her beauty that he cannot shoot. The swan appears to be both swan and woman. Her lovely face in enclosed by swan feathers and her pure white dress is embellished with soft, downy swan feathers. She thanks the Prince and tells him that she is Princess Odette. She explains that she was cursed by an evil magician named Rothbart who captured her and turned her into a swan queen. A swan she must always be, except between midnight and dawn, unless a man should love her marry her, and never love another. Then she will be saved and be a swan no longer.
Siegfried holds his hands to his heart and says that he loves her, that he will marry her and never love another. He demands to see this evil magician Rothbart and hides just as Rothbart enters. Rothbart’s owl-like face is a hideous mask; he reaches out his claws, beckoning Odette to return to him. He points menacingly at Siegfried. Odette moves between them, begging Rothbart for mercy. The prince seizes his bow, kneels, and aims it at the magician. Odette stops Siegfried from firing, knowing that if Rothbart dies, the evil spell will remain forever.
Rothbart leads Odette into the forest and Siegfried follows. The forest is then filled with dancing swans and Siegfried searches for Odette amongst them. Siegfried is more and more enchanted by Odette’s beauty and begins to hope that he can break her curse. He pledges his love and that he will never betray her. As day starts to break, Odette bids farewell and disappears into the forest.
Music by Peter Tchaikovsky
Choreography by Marius Petipa
Staged by Shani Englert
Lighting by Curtis Gathe
Long Beach Ballet