By Emily Etheredge
When planning a community production, it is often the talents of many people who help put the program together.
“It starts with a vision and desire to put together a professional children’s ballet and then a lot of help from the community,” said Clanton’s Festival Ballet Arts Classical Ballet Conservatory dance instructor Anna Curtis. “Putting this production together is a collective effort from a lot of different talented people in Chilton County.”
On May 31, the FBA will perform its second classical story ballet, “Sleeping Beauty,” at the Clanton Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m.
In 2013, Curtis embarked on her first classical story ballet, “The Little Red Riding Hood,” and looks forward to introducing the community to another children’s ballet production.
“Last season was more theatrical ballet,” Curtis said. “This year, it will be more childlike.”
Since opening FBA, Curtis said her program has grown from 14 students to 24 students.
“There is a desire in this community for children to be exposed to the arts,” Curtis said. “I am excited to watch them want to be involved at such a young age, and they all are willing to work very hard.”
Curtis gathered her 24 students at her home in Clanton in 2013 to let them watch a DVD of the Paris Opera’s ballet version of Sleeping Beauty.
“I had a vision for what I wanted to put together this year, but I wanted my students to be able to see the vision as well,” Curtis said. “This version of Sleeping Beauty is different than the cartoon version many children are exposed to, and when I put the DVD on, all of the students were glued to the television screen. It was important to me that they have that exposure.”
Curtis teamed up with Chilton County Arts Council Curator Sue Anne Hoyt, who helped Curtis select various color schemes for costumes and set ideas.
“Sue Anne along with other artists in the community have helped me so much with different ideas,” Curtis said. “Sue Anne is a wonderful artist, and I am blessed to be able to showcase her talents as an artist as well. It has been very valuable to have her input.”
Curtis also enlisted help from Diana Hiott with Fiber and Folk Arts, who helped with designs for masks for some of the characters in the ballet. Lena Rochester, who is a seamstress, helped construct many of the tutus for the ballet.
“One of the neat things about a community production is you have many different artists helping put everything together,” Curtis said. “The stage will be the landscape for multiple artists and their work.”
Curtis said one of the unique roles in the ballet this year is with her three male dancers who will be playing rats.
“They are fun and have very authentic looking masks,” Curtis said. “I wanted to choreograph their roles to be very ‘boy-like’ and have them scurrying around the stage. The boys think the role is so cool, and now some of my little girls are asking if they can be cast as rats.”
Curtis will also have two guest artists coming to perform in the production from the Birmingham Ballet Academy and a guest artist, dancing the role of the Queen who formerly trained at Briarwood Ballet.
“Katherine and Christian Free are playing the roles of Aurora and the Prince, and Rebecca McKnew will play the role of the Queen,” Curtis said. “I have been truly blessed and overwhelmed to have so many talented people who love the arts and love this community step up and help.”
This year, tickets to the ballet are $5 each with all of the proceeds from the production going toward the purchase of a new dance floor.
“Right now, we are in desperate need of a good floor for everyone to dance on,” Curtis said. “You have to have a good floor for good work to be done.”
For anyone interested in auditioning for Festival Ballet Arts Classical Conservatory, Curtis will hold auditions in July.
“We will take the month of June off, and I will audition anyone interested in July for the upcoming school year,” Curtis said.
To reach Curtis or learn more about FBA, visit www.festivalballetarts.webs.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.