Grand Rapids Ballet School Junior Company danced with skill and joy in ‘Peter Pan’
By Adrienne Warber
Grand Rapids Ballet School Junior Company brought to life a beloved children’s story, “Peter Pan,” in a delightful production last weekend. It was the type of show that demonstrated the professional quality of Grand Rapids Ballet School training and the enthusiasm of dance students who love ballet. The performance, choreography, set and staging captured the special childhood magic of the “Peter Pan” story. Grand Rapids Ballet School Junior Company held four performances on October 21-23. Nearly every show sold out.
Grand Rapids Ballet School Creates a Fun ‘Peter Pan’
From the moment that the curtain opened at the Friday, October 21 show, Grand Rapids Ballet School took the audience into the “Peter Pan” story. The set by Attila Mosolygo and Mellissa Slack captured the authentic feel of the Darling home and Neverland with its use of projections, backdrops, props and lighting. Michael Auer and Krystle Formsma did a good job on the projections. All these elements skillfully worked together with Attila Mosolygo’s inventive choreography and the cast’s strong dancing to create the ambiance of each scene in the story.
The clever costumes by Clare Gardeski and Melissa Leitch helped transform the dancers into the familiar characters. The costumes were on point, from the classic Peter Pan, Captain Hook and Smee to the gypsy-like girl pirates, graceful Indian tribe and crocodiles. The choice of having the Darling siblings and their classmates wear modern school uniforms made the classic story relatable to the children in the audience.
Grand Rapids Ballet School created a traditional “Peter Pan” production with a few modern twists. The story takes place in modern London, England. Captain Hook, assisted by Smee, leads a crew of female pirates. Tiger Lily is the chief of an all-female Indian tribe. Tiger Lily, Wendy and Tinkerbell are all strong female characters that fight beside Peter Pan. The production showcased more strong female characters than the traditional story. It was a show today’s kids can identify with.
Attila Mosolygo’s Stunning Choreography
Grand Rapids Ballet School Junior Company Artistic Director Attila Mosolygo’s choreography breathed life into each “Peter Pan” character. His inventive choreography style both helped the story unfold at a smooth pace and captured the spirit of each character. The choreography for corps de ballet scenes and for solo and partnering numbers were all equally strong and showcased the student cast’s talents. He created movements that could convey character personality and scene moods.
A Polished Student Production
Grand Rapids Ballet School Junior Company’s “Peter Pan” featured Grand Rapids Ballet School student dancers with Grand Rapids Ballet company dancers Patrick Lennon as Peter Pan and Benjamin Waldvogel as Captain Hook. The Junior Company cast danced with great skill worthy of sharing the stage with professional dancers Lennon and Waldvogel. The cast showed strong acting and dancing skills in the production.
Grand Rapids Ballet company dancer Patrick Lennon played a playful and charismatic Peter Pan. He danced with great athleticism and precision in his dance numbers. He matched his arch nemesis Captain Hook, played by company dancer Benjamin Waldvogel, extremely well. Waldvogel portrayed the classic villain with finesse and memorable dancing.
“Peter Pan” was expertly cast with each dancer well-suited to the role. Dancers showed strong dance technique and acting skills that made each character more real to the audience. Julia Rudlaff (Wendy), Cosmo Gamaggio (Michael), Zavhary Kuhn (John), Celese Lopez-Keranen (Tinkerbell) and Payton Field (Tiger Lily) did a great job. Noelle-Ashley De Nooy did an excellent job as Smee, truly capturing the humor and spirit of the character.
There were many noteworthy corps de ballet scenes. The Indian dance number was hauntingly beautiful, blending both classical ballet and contemporary technique with a hint of Native American dance movement. The pirate scenes were fun and full of humor. The battle scenes were skillful and athletic.
Grand Rapids Ballet School’s production of “Peter Pan” truly brought out the talent of the Grand Rapids Ballet School Company. It also held a special bit of magic for the audience. It wouldn’t be surprising if a few young audience members went to bed after the show and dreamed about Peter Pan and Tinkerbell whisking them off to Neverland. “Peter Pan” was the type of show made everyone in the audience remember the magic of childhood.