CVYB staging popular children's story â€˜Fancy Nancy'
|Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet will perform “Fancy Nancy” March 13-14 at the Akron Civic Theatre.
|Photo courtesy of Bruce Gates|
The next ballet on CVYB’s slate is “Fancy Nancy,” which will be performed March 13-14 at the Akron Civic Theatre.
The creation of new story ballets is pretty remarkable in even flush economic times. CVYB somehow has managed over the years to weather it all and bring original works to the Akron stage. Our hats should be off to Nan Klinger, the founder of CVYB, for establishing this tradition and to her daughter and successor, CVYB Artistic Director Mia Klinger, for continuing it unabated.
Mia Klinger said she keeps an eager eye out for works that speak to young people and especially to stories that lend themselves to the visual and musical necessities of dance and the stage. Based on the popular series by author Jane O’Connor, with illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser, “Fancy Nancy” is about a young girl who can border on being an overly spoiled brat, but who comes to understand in her various trials and tribulations (most of which involve some new possession she wants) the true value and meaning of things.
Mia Klinger said “Fancy Nancy” carries a positive message for children that “being true to yourself and expressing your unique personality is always in fashion.” To get at that idea, CVYB hired consummate choreographer Francis Patrelle, who has done other works for the ballet group, to generate a dance-based story. The frame for the current ballet is based somewhat on the work “Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy.” Nancy, of course, cannot imagine simply any dog; she must have a special puppy, and therein lies some of the funnier elements of the tale as one ordinary dog after another doesn’t quite make the grade. Within this construct, however, Patrelle blends some other works but encloses them loosely within the idea of “a visit to a museum,” where pictures come alive as Nancy and her family visit.
The work is all in fun and has a score created for the ballet by composer Patrick Soluri. Salutes to Aaron Copland (and, therefore, ties to American folk ballads) and to Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein (who wrote Broadway melodies) seem to inform Soluri’s original piece. There’s a cowboy section, for example, which includes a kind of musical roundup and a funny saloon scene (with a raucous can-can number) that sparkles when visualized by Patrelle’s choreography.
Mia Klinger said she spent a lot of time combing through fabric shops in New York City looking for just the right materials and accessories that light up on the stage and reveal the “specialness” of each of the dancers. She said this aspect of putting together a production has always been the one element she has worried more over because she wasn’t schooled in the process, while also being the part she works at the most and enjoys the most.
The performances also will include the reprise of James Sewell’s “Carnival of the Animals,” a ballet based on the music by Camille Saint-Saens.
Performances will take place March 13 at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and March 14 at 2:30 p.m. A reception for children will be held 30 minutes prior to each performance. Children will be able to meet Soluri, hear a special reading of a beloved “Fancy Nancy” tale and receive a free gift. Glasser will sign copies of the book at the March 13 performances.
Tickets cost $10 for general seating and $25 for preferred seating and are available at the Civic Theatre Box Office, by calling (330) 253-2488 or through TicketMaster at www.ticketmaster.com.
Roger Durbin is professor emeritus of bibliography at The University of Akron and an avid art enthusiast. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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