Grand Rapids Ballet School Junior Company made ‘Mini-Tales and Bolero’ entertaining for all ages
By Adrienne Warber
A great dance education shows in both the quality of a show performance and the enthusiasm of the dance students. Grand Rapids Ballet School (GRBS) Junior Company ended their 2016-17 Season with a delightful performance of “Mini-Tales and Bolero” on the weekend of May 19-21. The production and skillful choreography of Junior Company Artistic Director Attila Mosolygo showcased cast talent and provided a fun hour of entertainment for all ages.
‘Grand Rapids Ballet School Junior Company Shows’
Grand Rapids Ballet School stands out as a place where students can experience hands-on learning in a professional ballet company setting, and dance with some of the field’s leading talents in shows. Students between the ages of 10-19 who wish to have more performance opportunities can audition for the school’s Junior Company. The Junior Company typically participates in “The Nutcracker,” a special Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Parks performance, and a Junior company production each season. Some members also have opportunities to audition for children’s parts in company productions. During the 2016-17 Season, the Junior Company performed in five productions.
The GRBS Junior Company has flourished under the artistic direction of Attila Mosolygo. His choreography and his creative team, which includes his wife and fellow ballet faculty member Mindy Mosolygo who served as the rehearsal assistant, really bring out the talents of the students in the performances. Mellissa Slack did a great job on lighting and stage management. Michael Auer’s projection designs worked beautifully with the set designed by Atilla Mosolygo. Katie Behrens created lovely costumes. This Season’s Junior Company production, “Mini-Tales and Bolero,” was an entertaining mix of three favorite fairy tales and a new spin on Maurice Ravel’s stirring “Bolero.”
The Junior Company production began with three short retellings of “Thumbelina,” “Goldilocks and The Three Bears” and “Jack and The Beanstalk.” These beloved childhood fairy tales were familiar to all ages, and the stories were easy to follow for even the youngest audience members. Student dancers did a great job with both the dancing and character development.
The story of “Thumbelina” was retold entirely though dance and music. This first fairy tale performance was the strongest of the three “Mini-Tales.” The story clearly unfolded through the dancing. Serafina Wagenveld danced the part of Thumbelina with skill and heart, with some truly lovely pointe work. Dancers did good job creating their characters through movement, especially the toads portrayed by Kiana Clay and Bearenger Petrella, and the bird played by Ella-Marie Goulet. The partnering between Wagenveld and Cosmo Gamaggio, who played the Little Prince, was well done. It was also refreshing to see Thumbelina fighting back and becoming the hero of her own tale instead of simply being rescued by a prince. The lovely fairy tale ends with Thumbelina and her new brother, the Little Prince, being reunited with her Mother.
“Goldilocks and The Three Bears” and “Jack and The Beanstalk” both employed audio narration of the story with the dancing. The narration made the story easier for younger audience members to follow. Dancers had to make sure that their movements were in time with the narration, which can sometimes be tricky. The narration made acting important to fit the actions and voices. This also allowed for adding humor to scenes in “Goldilocks and The Three Bears,” and set the mood for scenes in “Jack and The Beanstalk.” The dancers worked well with the narration, creating their characters and dancing their parts. Madeline Muth (Goldilocks), Becca Sholler (Papa Bear), Julia Rudlaff (Mama Bear), and Elin Escobar Forsberg (Baby Bear) all played their characters with humor and warmth. Cosmo Gamaggio did a good job as Jack, with a strong supportive performance by Ellie-Rose Waldvogel as his mother. Grand Rapids Ballet Company dancers Patrick Lennon (Old Man) and Benjamin Waldvogel (Giant) gave strong performances that added humor to the “Jack and The Beanstalk” story.
“Bolero,” performed by the older members of GRBS Junior Company, was the jewel of the show. This impressive piece featured Grand Rapids Ballet Company dancer Benjamin Waldvogel, and was restaged and choreographed by Attila Mosolygo to Maurice Ravel’s famous music. The cast of 17 dancers gave a professional level performance of “Bolero,” in their dance technique and overall performance. This piece was a challenge to dance because of the timing and the large number of dancers on stage at once dancing in small trios and pairs. It was impressive how well the student corps de ballet worked together in following the timing and getting the technique exactly right. The cast earned a well-deserved standing ovation at the end of the show from the audience.
Future Grand Rapids Ballet School Shows and Events
GRBS Junior Company shows are a great way for parents and potential students to see what GRBS can offer. “Mini-Tales and Bolero” may end the 2016-17 Season, but Grand Rapids Ballet School already has some exciting dance events planned for this summer and the upcoming 2017-18 Season. Grand Rapid Ballet School’s “Summer Intensive 2017” offers ballet classes on June 26-July 28 and contemporary sessions running from July 31-August 18. The school is still accepting students. GRBS Junior Company will also perform the childhood classic, “The Wizard of Oz,” during the 2017-18 Season. For more information, visit Grand Rapids Ballet School’s Facebook page.