On Friday night I had the opportunity to attend Anchorage Classical Ballet’s performance of Aurora: A Tale of the Northern Lights. To be honest, my expectations going in to the show were not very high. I pictured bent knees, flexed feet, and outdated choreography, which are often staples of studio dance. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the troupe’s technique and choreography.
Act one was a showcase of dances by Anchorage Classical Ballet’s students and staff and was not a part of Aurora: A Tale of the Northern Lights. The costuming for all of the dances was spot on, and the choreography was intriguing. A couple standouts from act one include the ending of “Starry Night” where all of the dancers stood in the formation of The Big Dipper and held small lights while the stage was completely dark. The song for the piece, “Bonafide,” stated “if you live in a place that reaches 45 below, a bonafide boiler man is a real nice friend to know” which, as we all live in Alaska, was greatly appreciated. “Incredible Love” was another stand out and let me just tell you; I am incredibly in love with this piece. Not only was the technique impeccable, but also the partnering was difficult and executed almost flawlessly, and the chemistry was raw, intense, passionate, and believable. Woo! Is it is getting hot in here?! Overall, act one was very enjoyable, and it was inspiring to see young dancers with such an affinity for classical dance styles.
After intermission, Aurora: A Tale of the Northern Lights began. The basic story goes like this; a young couple has a baby girl and decides to name her Aurora after the morning sky. Aurora grows up and is playing in the tundra when she comes across a herd of caribou and becomes friends with one of them. She and the caribou go on an adventure, and they eventually end up in the land of darkness. Aurora then collects pink from the morning sky, blue from the midday sky, and green from the twilights and puts them in her pocket. She throws the colors into the dark sky, creating the Aurora Borealis and is then reunited with her parents.
There were many parts of Aurora that I enjoyed greatly. The costuming was one of my favorite parts of the entire ballet. I have never seen so many colors of ballet shoes in my life, and it was nice to have the students be costumed from head to toe, not just wearing some leotard and tutu with pink tights and pink shoes. I also appreciated the dancer’s technique. The lead in particular had wonderful turn out, feet, and flexibility that made the show very enjoyable and pleasing to the eye. The music and lighting were a huge part of what made this ballet a success in my book. I don’t think I have ever seen a ballet where I thought the music and lighting were so on. From the opening seconds, you can tell the lighting and music fit the story. Last, but certainly not least, the costuming and the choice of cast made the story believable. The young woman who played Aurora looked young, despite probably being in her early 20s, which was nice.
While I greatly enjoyed the ballet, there are a few things that could have been done differently. Firstly, Aurora’s dad could have been cast differently. While he did not have a large part, when he was on stage I had a hard time concentrating on anything but his awkwardness. Secondly, the acting seemed over-exaggerated at times. I like the dancing, music, and lighting to tell the story; not excessive hand motions. Luckily this was only a problem a couple of times throughout the show.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with the performance and the group. They truly appreciate the classical styles and training and it shows through their dancers’ mastery of ballet technique and the passion that they show on their faces. I would definitely recommend going to a performance by the Anchorage Classical Ballet.
Stefanie House is the office manager at the Anchorage Press and a youth dance instructor. She recently moved to Alaska from Washington state and likes to move it, move it. She can be reached at email@example.com