West Michigan Youth Ballet presents ‘Sleeping Beauty’

GVL / Courtesy - West Michigan Youth Ballet

West Michigan Youth Ballet

GVL / Courtesy – West Michigan Youth Ballet

Sidney Selvig

Many people are familiar with the classic story of Sleeping Beauty, the fairy-tale which involves a beautiful princess, a sleeping enchantment and a handsome prince; however, underneath the charming Disney story lurks a twisted version that the West Michigan Youth Ballet (WMYB) plans to capture through the use of colorful costumes and graceful dancing.

The performance of Sleeping Beauty will be held Saturday, March 25, at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. at DeVos Center for Arts and Worship Grand Rapids Christian High.

The West Michigan Youth Ballet is a non-profit organization founded in 2007 by local ballet professionals and dedicated parents. Since its creation, it has provided unique and life-changing experiences for hundreds of young dancers. WMYB is always looking toward the future.

Sleeping Beauty has been choreographed and staged by Laura Berman and WMYB artistic director and Grand Valley State University professor Stephen Sanford. Since joining WMYB in 2001, Sanford has lead many successful productions. 

He hopes that the performance of Sleeping Beauty has lively storytelling charm, remarkable suspense and is complex musicality. With brisk tempos injected into the ballet, the production will burst with energy, movement and lively music.

Berman and Sanford have performed with world renowned companies for a combined 40 years. They have independently taught and choreographed for companies and schools both in Michigan and abroad, inspiring young dancers with a love of ballet to perform full length productions. 

WMYB hopes to engage and motivate students from different dance schools around Western Michigan to bring their talents together to create beautiful performances, while continuing their ballet technique at their home studio.

Berman wants the performance of Sleeping Beauty to focus on the individual characters of the various court dances. Highlighting the individual characters will show the audience just how far Aurora has come from the jubilant girl portrayed in that Act I to the majestic girl shown in Act III.

The ballet’s choreography has been embellished by rapid beaten steps, sudden low balances and complex footwork, representing the peak of high art and reflecting on the order and harmony that lies behind the grace of the dancers.

The Sleeping Beauty production will include an audience participation aspect. Those interesting in joining dancers on stage for a special concluding performance presentation will have a chance to submit an entry form in DeVos Center for Arts and Worship Grand Rapids Christian High lobby prior to the start of the production. Two winners will be randomly drawn as the evening progresses. The performance caters to all ages with a Princess Drawing before the performance as well as a tea party, light lunch, character visiting and photo opportunities.

After Sleeping Beauty, the WMYB will be hosting open auditions for the spring ballet of the Nutcracker in May and June and for future performances that will be held in November.