When Dwarfs Dance

When Dwarfs Dance

The story is iconic. Snow White escapes the Evil Queen’s castle, traverses the darkness and meets the Dwarfs, who aid her in her adventure.

The music is less well known, written by Modest Mussorgsky, a Romantic era composer who specialized in ballets, operas and works for the stage. “Pictures at an Exhibition,” a suite of 10 movements for solo piano completed in 1874, pays tribute to artworks by Russian artist Viktor Hartmann, a friend of the composer’s who died in 1873.

Critics call the music “fiendishly difficult” to play. That didn’t matter to choreographer Jared Mesa, who imagined in it the different scenes that make up the Grimm Brothers fairy tale staged Saturday by Western Arkansas Ballet.

“I started planning the music almost a year ago,” says Mesa, who is also Western Arkansas Ballet’s associate director. In addition to choosing recordings of “Pictures at an Exhibition,” he’s included some “auxiliary music” by composers like Mozart to round out the story. Dancers will primarily present classical ballet with some folk dancing and character dancing in appropriate places. Dwarfs, he says, laughing, are folk dancers.

The one-act ballet will be the second half of a program that includes “other dances” in the first act — contemporary, modern, hip hop — “all of it,” according to Melissa Schoenfeld, WAB executive artistic director.

The company has been in existence around 30 years, she says, and presents two full-length evenings of dance a year — “The Nutcracker” during the holidays and a second program that changes every year. The company is open to anyone by audition, and there is also an academy that teaches dance to ages 4 and older.

“This is not a recital. We do that for the academy students,” Schoenfeld says. “This is an actual performance by the company.”

The production will include 61 performers, playing not just Snow White, the Dwarfs and the Evil Queen, but also the darkness, fireflies, woodland creatures and the gems mined by the Dwarfs. “Everything is a character,” Schoenfeld says. With performers ages 6 and older, there are a lot of “precious” moments, she adds.



‘Snow White’

And Other Dances

WHEN — 2:30 & 7:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE — ArcBest Corp. Performing Arts Center in Fort Smith

COST — $15-$25

INFO — 785-0152 or waballet.org

Categories: Entertainment, Music