We all know the story of Pinocchio, right?
Gepetto, a woodcarver in a small Italian village, carves a wooden puppet, wishes on a star for his wooden puppet, Pinocchio, to become a real boy. The Blue Fairy brings Pinocchio to life. She gives him a cricket to be his conscience and promises that, if Pinocchio proved himself brave, truthful and unselfish, he could become a real boy. Pinocchio runs into temptations that cause him to stray from his path of bravery, truthfulness and unselfishness. Each time he lies, his nose grows. Ultimately, the tale has a happy ending, with Pinocchio being transformed into a real boy.
It’s been a book, a graphic novel, a Disney movie and now it’s a ballet.
That’s right, a ballet. Thanks to funding from PNC, BalletMet Artistic Director Gerard Charles and company dancers have teamed up with the Lancaster Festival Orchestra to bring the timeless classic to life. This world Premiere production includes a beautiful musical score by Hungarian composer David Kiraly, performed by the Lancaster Festival Orchestra conducted by Gary Sheldon.
Never been to the Lancaster Festival? Neither have I, but after researching the 10-day affair, I certainly have it penciled in my planner. Since1985, the Lancaster Festival has been a multi-faceted event that transforms the historic city of Lancaster with musical performances and family activities while getting local businesses, museums and residents involved.
At the beginning of May, the company dancers, along with a couple Dance Academy students, began rehearsals for the performance. Before premiering the production on July 24, the dancers, Gerard, Gary and the orchestra traveled to Lancaster-area high schools to introduce the ballet and festival to the students.
The performance will also include local children in Lancaster, cast by Gerard. Because of the timing of the project, Gerard had to rehearse the company dancers and Dance Academy students before he even met the children in Lancaster. He plans to work with the younger children in July before the company dancers return for their final week of rehearsals.
Gerard explained, in an email, the he is building the work modularly. He says:
“This has been a good opportunity for us to re-connect to the Lancaster Festival, a place we have danced in history, but not recently. It also offers some more employment to some dancers and gives us the opportunity to develop a children’s story ballet that may have a life beyond the festival.”
The World Premiere performance will take place at Fairfield Union High School on July 24 with show times at 1:30 and 7:00 p.m.. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children.