The Creative Arts Repertoire Ensemble (CARE Ballet) of Grand Rapids presents A Midsummer Night's Dream this weekend to bring the magic of George Balanchine's version of the Shakespearean tale to life in a classic ballet for families all over West Michigan. The audience will be transported to Shakespeare's fantasy world of love potions, mischievous fairies, dancing donkeys and the people caught in the middle. This condensed version of the ballet is very family friendly because it is one hour long, and tells the story in a simple, lively manner through dancing to the engaging music of Felix Mendelssohn.
Balanchine loved William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. In fact, he played an elf in a production of the play in Russia during his childhood. His ballet version of the play captures the lighthearted, playful humor and sweet romance of Shakespeare's work.
CARE Ballet has a special history with A Midsummer Night's Dream. The company's artistic director, Judy Genson, had the honor of playing the principal dance role in the production of A Midsummer Night's Dream when Balanchine came to the Grand Rapids Civic Ballet to stage the production in the 1970s.
A Midsummer Night's Dream ends the season for the CARE Ballet. Earlier this season, CARE performed The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a ballet, and their annual Twas the Night Before Christmas production. The company typically performs three ballets a season.
This performance features a cast of 70 dancers, made up the CARE ensemble members and young dancers from the West Michigan area. The ensemble members range in age from 12-18 years old. Each year they do an open call audition for dancers all over West Michigan to fill the cast for non-ensemble member roles in their productions. This also allows younger dancers to participate. It took 6-7 weeks of rehearsals for the dancers to learn the Midsummer Night's Dream ballet.
Educational outreach and encouraging a love of dance is important to CARE Ballet. Before every ballet production opens, CARE holds a special performance for Grand Rapids Public school students. On Friday, February 7, CARE Ballet held two performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream for 1,200 Grand Rapids Public School students.
"Our main mission is to build an appreciation of dance in West Michigan," says CARE Ballet board member, Judy Sopeland.
Sopeland also points out that CARE's one hour production of A Midsummer Night's Dream is an ideal family activity because it should entertain children of all ages and their parents. "A child as young as two can sit and be entertained by the dancing...It is a quality production, family friendly and interactive. At the end of the show, the audience is invited up to the stage to talk to the cast, take photos or get autographs. Children will be inspired and realize that they can be stars too."
Performance Times, Location and Ticket Information
CARE Ballet performs A Midsummer Night's Dream at St. Cecilia Music Center's Royce Auditorium on Saturday, February 8, at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm. A third performance will be held on Sunday, February 9, at 3:00 pm. St. Cecilia Music Center is located at 24 Ransom NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. Seats are reserved. Tickets can be purchased online at www.careballet.org, or by call 616-464-3682. Tickets are also available for purchase at the performance.