CVYB premiering ‘Snow White’
By Roger Durbin
DOWNTOWN AKRON — The Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet (CVYB) is about to out-do Walt Disney when it presents its newest original work, “Snow White,” at the Akron Civic Theatre March 10-11.
Choreographer Lazlo Berdo, who formerly danced with Boston Ballet and now works with Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, is sticking closely to the primary story line for his dance work. Although there are many versions of the tale, most agree that the young Snow White was at first the dream child of the Queen, but later became her nemesis as Snow White’s beauty exceeded that of the vain woman.
In a series of rages, the Queen seeks to destroy her rival in beauty first through trying to suffocate her with a too-tight bodice cloth and then render her dead through a poison comb. Neither of the Queen’s tricks works.
Berdo drops the comb incident from his work but holds fast to the poisoned apple motif that everyone would surely expect. Snow White lets the disguised evil Queen inside the house of the seven dwarves even though they repeatedly warned her to trust no one.
Snow White bites and dies. Miraculously she doesn’t decay, however, and when a young Prince shows up, he, of course, brings her back to life, foiling the ruthless Queen forever.
In Berdo’s version, much like the Disney production, the animals of the forest adore the young girl for her beauty and her pleasantness. This idea gives the choreographer lots of room to develop dances for a rabble of butterflies, a warren of rabbits, a couple of frogs, a fawn and some helpful birds — a dove and an owl — that lead the Prince to the stricken young girl. Backed by William Wade’s music score, butterflies flitter and alight in a flurry of activity across the stage, surrounding the young girl in a flutter of beauty. The music matches both their enthusiasm and their caution as they wander through the potentially dangerous forest.
In contrast, the evil Queen is engulfed by dark-figured images of her own misdeeds. Dressed entirely in black, looking something like beetles, a swarm of dancers create frenzy as they surround the Queen as she thinks of one clever way after another to get rid of young Snow White.
Wade’s score is perfect for this work. It’s cinematic and dramatic. Sections of the work are clearly defined by changes in musical tone. Snow White, the Queen, even the dwarves, have their own musical themes that announce them — and that suits them. The sniveling Queen, when she entices Snow White to eat the apple, does so with music that is at the same time jarring but cloyingly sweet.
With such music to guide them,
these young dancers will
have many opportunities to act up a storm on stage,
as they did during a recent rehearsal performance.
Berdo cleverly balances the tone
of the ballet through the romping of the dwarves and
the gamboling of the animals consistently on one side
of the stage against the evil-doings of the Queen on
another. When the work resolves, and the world is made
whole again by the resuscitation of Snow White, the
good characters take over
the entire stage, filling it with abundant and innovative
dance that is set on these young ballet dancers.
According to Artistic Director
Mia Klinger Welch, Berdo devised the costumes as well,
although Welch helped to find just the right fabrics
to match the various characters. Snow White looks very
much the image of the young Princess in the Disney movie
If rehearsals are a good guide
(and they are), this production
will be extremely well done when set on the large stage
of the Akron Civic Theatre.
CVYB also will reprise Karen
Gabay’s “The Wand of Youth” that it
premiered last year and George Balanchine’s “Scherzo
a la Russe.” ‘Snow White’ will follow
The performance will take place
March 10 at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. and March 11 at 2:30
p.m. Tickets range in price from $10 to $20 and can
be purchased at the Civic Theatre Box Office,
by calling (330) 253-2488, and through TicketMaster
by calling (330) 945-9400 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com.
Roger Durbin is associate dean
and professor of bibliography for University Libraries
at The University of Akron and board director of the
Dance Critics Association. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet will perform “Snow White” March 10-11 at the Akron Civic Theatre.
Photo: Bruce Gates Photography