"Snow White" ballet coming to Blaine PAC

Published on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 by Ian Ferguson

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You’ve seen “Snow White,” but not like this.

The classic Brothers Grimm fairytale is coming to the Blaine Performing Arts Center in the form of a ballet, choreographed by John Bishop and performed by the Northwest Ballet Theater. The one-time performance is August 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Emily DesChane, an 18-year-old from Custer, will take center stage as Snow White. She has been a ballerina since the age of
 8 and said she’s excited to star in her first leading role.

“Dancing onstage gives me a thrill and allows me to express myself,” she said. “This role is more complicated than some roles I’ve done in the past. It involves acting through pantomime, so it’s challenging. I’m excited to push myself.”

Unlike the Disney version of the tale, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” the ballet version adapted by Bishop is not a cut-and-dried fairytale, DesChane said.

“It’s not just happily ever-after,” she said. “It’s a little of everything. There are some dramatic, intense scenes, some comic relief scenes and some sad scenes.”

Natasha Keeley, who will perform the part of the Evil Queen, said the ballet version has some sinister elements when compared to the Disney version.

“It’s darker. I would say it’s a more accurate adaptation of the original Brothers Grimm fairytale,” Keeley said. “I am very psyched to play an evil role. I always grew up playing the princess, but I think you can get away with more when you play an evil character. I had such a fun time playing a vampire in last year’s [Northwest Ballet Theater] production of Dracula. For Snow White, I get to change into the old lady with a scary mask, then come back as the beautiful, evil queen.”

Keeley studied at Ballet Bellevue and has danced in Russia, France and New York City throughout her 16-year career. She now teaches Russian classical ballet at Duvall Performing Arts in Duvall, Washington.

Local actors have been included in the cast of Snow White to help advance the plot.

“The acting really ties the story together,” Keeley said. “There are some scenes that you can’t tell the whole story just by dancing.”

Dancers and actors have been rehearsing together for two-hour sessions four days a week all summer. DesChane said the performers are dialing in their characters and the nuances of the performance.

“It’s going very well. A lot of the dancers are really getting into their characters. I’m starting to feel like I’m becoming Snow White – I’m embracing the character,” she said. “Partnering with the Prince has been going well, and I have a guardian who is a bluebird named Annie. Dancing with her, we get to bond and play off one another.”

Bishop has adapted dozens of stories into original ballets over his 15-year career as artistic director of Northwest Ballet Theater.

“He’s such a great choreographer,” Keeley said.

 Northwest Ballet Theater typically performs at Mount Baker Theatre in Bellingham but has travelled to other venues in Whatcom and Skagit counties. This will be the company’s first time performing in Blaine.

“I think it’s a great way to spread the art of ballet,” DesChane said.

The Blaine Performing Arts Center is at 975 H Street. Tickets for the show are $20 and can be purchased online at snowwhiteballet.eventbrite.com or by calling 360/714-1246. For more information, go to northwestballet.org.