It’s Beatrix Potter time!

Here's how you do "mouse hands"

Well, folks, I’m writing at the studio. Wednesdays are our late-night rehearsals, and Ashley and Amelia are working away on what Artistic Director Donna calls “Puddle-Duck,” so I have a brief respite. It gets pretty hilarious sometimes when we step back and think about the fact that we’re scampering and holding tails and paws, and getting corrections like “scamper better into that line,” etc. We’re, like, creating a whole new vocabulary here! (i.e., “scamper” was NOT part of Incendio choreography!) Jemima Puddle Duck and the Foxy-Whiskered Fox is one of my personal favorites in the show; it’s actually so funny that I wish sometimes that the girls didn’t wear masks, since their faces are so hilarious.

Coming this December 2 and 4, Beatrix Potter: Tales for the Holidays is what we’re calling a “bonus concert” this season. This means that it’s not part of our regular concert season of three shows at the Hult Center–it’s an extra on top of these. As a chamber company, BFan doesn’t try to do a Nutcracker (plus Eugene Ballet already does a beautiful one of those here in our city)…but this is sort of our answer to the Nutcracker–a fun, holiday family ballet that may well become standard December fare for us BFanners + fans. Moreover, we’re excited to be producing the first-ever BFan shows at the stunningly-gorgeous and intimate Wildish in Springfield (the last time we were there was our guest appearance with the Oregon Mozart Players in 2008) and the lovely Florence Events theater in Florence later the same weekend. It’s our first-ever tour to Florence, and we’re stoked!

For those who don’t think they know Beatrix Potter, she was a much-beloved writer of children’s stories in the early part of the 20th century. The Tale of Peter Rabbit (danced by yours truly with great abandon and tan pointe shoes) was published in 1902, and after that came all sorts of cute characters that we’re bringing to life on stage.

Yours truly as Peter Rabbit

For a little more behind-the-scenes insight on what’s fun about this ballet, it’s honestly been a bit of a respite from the intensity of generating all-new choreography and a chance to just have fun and relax a bit. Of course, there are challenges (see list below), but it’s nice to recharge a little. We still get the excitement of the performance coming up (and the KIDS ARE SO EXCITED), but with a chance to recharge the choreographic engines. As a choreographer and not just a dancer, I needed this.

But as a dancer, it’s not all a piece of cake. Here are some of my favorite challenges:
–Keeping a straight face whilst rehearsing some silly stuff with our very community-visible windowfront here at City Center for Dance. Specifically: Wiggling my buns with squirrel paws (YES, they are different from mouse paws, believe it or not) as a Squirrel Cousin in the Tale of Squirrel Nutkin as people walk by. Don’t get me wrong–we LOVE our gorgeous new studio, but it does put us on display, and I have a feeling that some of our neighbors are very confused as they walk to the elevator… For example, one gentleman saw fit to wiggle back at us with his own paws the other day, and I have to divulge that rehearsal might have descended into giggles for a bit. We know that we must look pretty nuts. (Bad squirrel pun, sorry!)
–Acting without your face. It’s actually quite a challenge as a dancer–one we don’t often think about–to act with a mask on. So often as a dancer, you (I!) rely on your facial expressions to communicate drama or humor. In fact, I personally think it’s actually harder to pull off humor even than pathos or romance without your face showing. And, because we’re animals and wearing these awesome felted masks (which have a lot of personality, but aren’t dynamic and mobile, of course), we don’t get to use our faces to tell our stories. Add to this the fact that we’re telling a story and expecting a decent percentage of kiddos in attendance–we want them to “get it,” to be charmed, to be utterly Beatrix Pottered.
–Knowing that next week, it’s nose back to the grindstone. Like many of our professional colleagues in larger and more established companies across the US, for the first time, Ballet Fantastique company dancers will be challenged to work on two very different ballets simultaneously. Starting next week, we’ll be working on our all-original Arabian Nights while we also keep Beatrix up to par. As you might expect, Nights is gonna be very different than Beatrix, but simultaneously work/choreograph we must. Let’s just hope that Scheherazade doesn’t accidentally pop out of the wings with a fox tail.
–Logistics. Sigh: as always, my double-hatting gets a lot harder around performance time. And this time, I want to do a good job with things I don’t usually have to think about, including that we’re our own box office for the Wildish performance and being sure that the Florence community knows about our concert there. (Respectively, our norm is that the Hult Box Office manages things beautifully, and our team of interns and volunteers have publicity here in Eugene down to a science–but we’ve never done Florence before.) Let’s just say, I’m already waking up at 3am with random realizations and new ideas.

And so, to wrap it all up…has Hannah pulled it all together and is there a place to get these tickets, you might ask? YES! Here’s what you need to know.

TICKETS FOR WILDISH SHOW: $16 general admission or $10 youth (18 & under)
Three easy ways to order:
–Call 541-342-4622
–Order online
–Visit our local ticket outlets, Bambini or Kidstuff, during normal business hours to purchase your tickets through them (be sure to thank them for their support of Ballet Fantastique!)

TICKETS FOR THE FLORENCE SHOW: $16 adults and $12 youth (18 & under)
Available from the Florence Events Center, 541-997-1994. Tickets sold at the window from noon–4:30 pm daily or by phone with credit card.

Ok, now it’s back to my to do list!

Signing off,
Hannah

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2 thoughts on “It’s Beatrix Potter time!

  1. What a delight to see from the inside-out your work on the Beatrix Potter tales through ballet. I wish this could come to Colorado someday!

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