I didn’t make it to opening night of Snow White so I missed Nicole Ferreira-Dill in the title role and Kitty Phetla as the evil Queen in Joburg Ballet’s new production choreographed by Iain MacDonald. Monike Cristina was Snow White, while the Royal Huntsman was Revil Yon. Monike Cristina is a black dancer, and it took thirty or so seconds for me to adjust to a black Snow White. Then all of a sudden it was irrelevant. Revil Yon is the new dancer from Cape Town and I watched him with interest. It was, however, Claudia Monja as the evil Queen who stole the show at the performance I watched. Monja has come a long way with Joburg Ballet in the past few years. She is a skilled character actress and her lovely warmth as a performer has earned her many fans. In the role of the evil Queen she has taken the opportunity to reveal her inner bitch (or maybe just to create an inner bitch) and the audience buys in to her nasty jealousy without any difficulty. Monja, for the record, also has a great pair of legs (for those who notice these things).
MacDonald has kept to the original story without any deviation, making it easy for even the littlest audience members of the audience to access the ballet as a story they already know and love. My favourite scenes were those with the Forest People and their delightful character antics. The audience had no trouble identifying Clumsy, Casanova, Coach, Cough, Coma, Cantankerous and Cuddles. I enjoyed the interaction of these characters, both with one another and with Snow White herself.
There is a dark aspect to the ballet, especially at the end where the “aging” Queen (in reality she would have been a relatively young woman) chooses death rather than not be the most beautiful woman in the kingdom anymore. I think this may be lost on the little ones, but it is certainly an opportunity for parents to discuss body/beauty/aging issues with their older children.
I loved the music of Shostakovich, especially in the eerie forest scene. It was, of course, always a pleasure to recognize bits and pieces from Shostakovich’s more well-known works when they popped up.
The ballet is not costume heavy, making use of only one or two costumes per dancer. All the costumes were new for this ballet, and cleverly designed so that they are sufficiently neutral to be used to good effect in almost any other classical ballet staged by Joburg Ballet.
The sets were by Andrew Botha. The baroque feel to the palace and the traditional ballroom scene were slightly disturbed by some animation going on in the background. Despite this, the ballroom choreography is very traditional and it was a delight to see the dancers and soloists of the company. Altogether the ballet, the sets and the animation created a very “busy” feel to the ballet, and the dancing was sometimes lost in the animation effects. I felt strongly that less would have been better in this regard, and that the mirror should have been more mirror like with less pyrotechnic effects surrounding it. However, there were also some lovely effects as part of this, one of which was the abandonment of Snow White into the dark forest with its ominous shadows, as the scenes move through menacing trees, desolate gravestones and the foreboding gallows. One can only empathise with the terrified Snow White. The sheer frenetic feel I disliked elsewhere reached an appropriate fever pitch in this scene.
Over all, the new ballet is a lot of fun, especially for families and as it goes on to new seasons in the future, I am sure it will become a much loved staple in the repertoire of Joburg Ballet.
On Wednesday 18 October from 19:30 there will be the annual fundraising gala, Night of the Stars, where Shannon Glover and Revil Yon will dance the balcony pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet with Monike Cristina and Ivan Domiciano dancing the pas de deux from Don Quixote. The company will dance the Grand Waltz from Snow White. Timothy Moloi, Samantha Peo and others will perform vocal items. Tickets for this are R500 each and include canapes and desserts, although there are some tickets for R100 now available. I encourage people to book for what promises to be a wonderful evening.
Joburg Ballet offers a range of very affordable ticket options for Snow White – The Ballet, including half price on opening night, budget priced morning matinees at 11:00 when every seat is just R80, and discounts for pensioners and groups.
SNOW WHITE – THE BALLET: BOOKING INFORMATION
Dates, Times, Prices:
- Fri 20 Oct, Sat 21 Oct at 19:30 & Sat 14 Oct, Sun 15 Oct, Sat 21 Oct, Sun 22 Oct at 15:00 – Standard Prices: R180, R250, R340, R390, R450
- Tue 17 October & Wed 18 October at 11:00 – All tickets R80
Where: Joburg Theatre, Braamfontein (GPS -26.191316, 28.038519)
Book now: At Joburg Theatre Box Office; or tel. 0861 670 670; or online at www.joburgtheatre.com
Patrons can also book and pay via the Nedbank app and at selected Pick n Pay stores (full list at www.webtickets.co.za/pnpoutlets.aspx)
Keep up to date with the company on their social media platforms; Facebook.com/joburgballet, Instagram.com/joburgballet, @JoburgBallet or online at www.joburgballet.com