Ballet Vero Beach is not unlike the one-act April production closing its pandemic-challenged season: an awakened beauty.
The Sleeping Princess, an abridged version of the timeless Sleeping Beauty, features a cast of 14 that includes the professional company’s resident dancers as well as others from its sister company, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami. The production promises to dazzle with intricate and thoughtful costume and set design and fluid, transcendent movement. In many ways, it is a modern-day allegory that artistically conveys the emotional release of the performing arts everywhere emerging from an isolated cocoon, just like the heroine of the iconic fairytale herself.
Ballet Vero Beach Artistic Director/CEO Adam Schnell says they offered virtual programs throughout the pandemic and finally returned to the stage this past January after polling subscribers and ensuring strict safety protocols. The Sleeping Princess will offer an online option, along with one live performance on April 16 and two on April 17. Schnell says it will be the company’s most ambitious program to date. “We made a larger investment with The Sleeping Princess,” he says. “I learned very early in my career that if you surround yourself with quality artists and invest in quality craftsmanship, the audience immediately knows.”
Schnell condensed three hours to one hour of action and kept 60 to 70 percent of the production’s classic choreography while updating the rest “to make it come together in a fun way so it’s something incredible for the dancers and for the audience to watch.” He artfully balances the tastes of sophisticated, well-heeled audiences with everyday citizens, kids, and families he aims to impact through ballet. Through his partnership with the local literacy-building The Learning Alliance, Schnell offers free matinees for Indian River County students in the first, third, and fourth grades, and The Sleeping Princess will become an alternating repertoire staple for the organization’s student, accessible, and family-friendly series.
“The really cool thing The Learning Alliance has taught me is what the arts can do to reach kids,” he says. The company, currently in its eighth season, continues to focus on quality and “challenging the perception of what a professional company can be,” he adds, noting that some of his best experiences have been performing for audiences who may not ostensibly understand or appreciate ballet going into the show. “If you can win those audiences over, that’s where it really affects change,” he says.
What: The Sleeping Princess
When: April 16 at 7:30 p.m.; April 17 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Where: Vero Beach High School Performing Arts Center, 1707 16th St., Vero Beach
Tickets and information: Here and 772.905.2651 Online archival film access: April 23 through May 9