Central Ballet Theatre is celebrating its 10th anniversary by stepping through the wardrobe for a production of “Prince Caspian: Return to Narnia.”
Performances will be held at 7 p.m., Jan. 17; 2 and 7 p.m., Jan. 18; and 2 p.m., Jan. 19 in the auditorium of Tusculum College’s Annie Hogan Byrd Fine Arts Building in Greeneville.
Based on the second book in C.S. Lewis’ popular “Chronicles of Narnia” series, “Prince Caspian” is Central Ballet Theatre’s second world premier and eighth original ballet. More than 90 local children and adult dancers and four professional dancers will perform in the ballet, which finds Narnia in the midst of a civil war.
After his son is born, villainous King Miraz prevents Narnia’s rightful heir, his young nephew Caspian, from ruling the kingdom. The story follows Caspian on his journey to reclaim his birthright.
“This is a very powerful ballet because there is so much depth to the story,” said Lori Ann Sparks, Central Ballet Theatre’s artistic director and choreographer. “Certain selections really make the audience think about the very meaning of life. This ballet is a challenge to all people to live for truth. It is told through the story of C.S. Lewis, one of the best story writers of all time, set to powerfully stirring music and presented in a most beautiful art form — a world-premier ballet.
“This ballet is definitely not for the weak of heart. It has real sword-fighting, strong dancing and acting, and beautiful relationships that bring to life a story that is no longer a fairy tale but rather lessons the audience will both enjoy and take home with them.”
Herself a professional dancer, Sparks will perform in “Prince Caspian,” dancing the lead of The Council of the Dancing Lawn — accompanied by local dancers Kim Berry, Parke Brumit and Chia Hui — as well as performing a pas de deux with Joshua Kurtzberg.
Kurtzberg, who played Mordecai in Central Ballet’s “Story of Esther” and the Prince in its “Snow White,” is returning for his third season with Central Ballet Theatre to portray Prince Caspian. Originally from Atlanta, Kurtzberg began his training on full scholarship with Atlanta Ballet. After four years, he was offered a company position but instead chose to pursue his training with the Houston Ballet Ben Stevenson Academy on full scholarship. He has danced with American Repertory Ballet for five years and has been the master teacher for Central Ballet’s last two summer intensives.
Dante Adela is also rejoining the cast in the role of Trumpkin. Adela currently tours with Cirque du Soleil and has taken time out of his schedule to travel from Portugal to dance with Central Ballet. He was the popular break-dancing jester of “Sleeping Beauty” and was featured as Pharoah in Central Ballet’s production of “Exodus.” He studied at the North Carolina School of the Arts and continued his training in New York City at Steps on Broadway. Adela previously danced with the State Ballet of Missouri, The Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center, Cedar Lake Ensemble and BalletNY.
Making a guest appearance as Dr. Cornelius, a man-dwarf and close friend of Caspian, will be professional dancer Tanya Rathbun, co-director of Trinity Arts Center. Rathbun recently traveled to Hong Kong to work with the Project Dance Team. She has 25 years of performance and teaching experience with companies including Chicago City Ballet, Joffrey New York, and Finnish National Ballet.
Fourteen additional dances with new choreography have been added to the ballet since it was originally performed by Central Ballet Theatre. Three of the dance selections were choreographed by Richard d’Alton of International Ballet of Houston who has been named “Outstanding Choreographer” by the Youth America Grand Prix competition judges for several consecutive years. In addition, Marilyn duBrisk, director of Tusculum College’s Arts Outreach, choreographed a piece called “Old Stories” for the ballet.
To celebrate Central Ballet’s 10th anniversary, a quilt made by Kymberly Boschee out of T-shirts from the past 11 ballets Central Ballet has performed in its 10 years, will be given away. Tickets may be purchased in the lobby during the performances.
For the seventh year, Central Ballet Theatre of Greeneville is part of Tusculum Arts Outreach’s Acts, Arts, Academia performance/lecture series. Central Ballet Theatre, a 501c3 non-profit organization, is supported by the Tennessee Arts Council, the Greene County Commission, Arts Fund of East Tennessee and many area businesses, industries and individuals. The company was created to produce original ballets with wholesome or Biblical values.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors, and are available at Three Blind Mice, Evans Jewelry, The General Morgan Inn and Richland Creek Gifts as well as at the door.
For reservations or more information, call 724-7014 or 798-1620, or visit www.centralballet.com.