Ballet Theatre of Maryland’s production of The Snow Queen at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts is a colorful feast of dance, lighting, and costumes. Based on the story of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen, which was the inspiration for Disney’s Frozen, it is choreographed by Artistic Director Dianna Cuatto, and is a wonderful way to begin BTM’s 41st season.
Karissa Kralik gives great emotion to Aleksya, the title character. She perfectly conveys her thoughts without saying a word, whether longing for her friend Kai (Chang Hyun Seo) or wincing at the Frost Goblin King (Alexander Collen)’s control over her. She pairs perfectly with both dancers, staying limp as Collen lifts and pulls her around the stage, spinning her around. She dances with joy with Seo and Gerda (Lindsey Bell), triumphantly twirling and leaping between them. Her solos are beautiful as she lifts and spins. Kralik alternates with Lynne Bellinger in the role; Bellinger will be retiring at the end of this season.
Alexander Collen radiates power as the Frost Goblin King, his hands and legs weaving magic. He dominates Kralik in their dances together, balancing her on his knees at one point. His final battle with Seo and Bell is wonderfully dramatic as they dance across the stage. His Frost Goblins (Jackson Kettell, Richard Link, Ryan Massey, and Mark McCormack) are fearsome, leaping with their swords, while the Snow Ghosts (Cindy Case, Michelle Lemburg, Marjorie O’Hearne, and Victoria Siracusa) give a spookiness to their movements as they seem to float across the stage.
Chang Hyun Seo as Kai and Lindsay Bell as Gerda effortlessly tell the story through their movements. They stagger as they approach the Frost Goblin King’s palace, exhausted by the journey. Seo’s solo is full of power as he leaps and jumps on the stage. Bell’s solo is beautifully delicate, full of twirls and spins. They work well together, Seo lifting Bell, spinning her around, and guiding her as she moves. In one tender moment, he lifts Kralik and carries her offstage.
Aleksya’s three suitors all display their different personalities through their dance. Brock Fowler gives Prince Rupert great power, leaping across the stage. Mark McCormack gives an elegance to Prince Christoph as he extends his legs. Jalen Williams gives Prince Kassim a quiet strength as he spins and glides around the stage. Their grace and precision are beautiful to watch.
Isaac Martinez and Nicole Kelsch play the Troll Emissaries with great comic touches, dancing loosely and lightly. Several times Martinez picks up Kelsch and carries her offstage, her legs folding into his chest. As the Enchantress of Summer, Kelsch dances elegantly, as does Martinez as her Consort, twirling and leaping together. Their duet paints a lovely scene.
Christina Fleming gives the Wise Woman Sage strength and dignity while conveying to Kai and Gerda their journey to free Aleksya, all without words. Sarah Macdonald alternates the role with Fleming. Corinne Early is marvelous to watch as the Gypsy Seer, exuding grace as she extends her legs and arms while spinning. At the end, she is lifted above by the Gypsies (Lynne Bellinger, Emily Brennan, Brock Fowler, Daliana Gutierrez, Richard Link, Mark McCormack, Hayley-Anne Vasco, and Jalen Williams), who dance with passionate, energetic rhythm. Early also plays Aleksya’s Tutor, giving her an authority as she effortlessly directs the court’s activities.
The sets, designed by Dianna Cuatto, are simple but effective, the most elaborate being the Frost Goblin King’s palace, with an icy backdrop, a poster bed on the left and a throne surrounded by columns in the back, all done in white and blues. A large mirror is on the right, while a dais covered in runes holds a golden plate. Aleksya’s castle also has a throne in the center, and her bedroom has a simple chair and desk, with another large mirror on the left, opposite the Frost Goblin King’s. The Gypsy Kingdom of Autumn has half-trees, a stove, and a wagon, while the Fairy Kingdom of Summer has trees in the backdrop. Fog comes through the mirrors and in the Fairy Kingdom.
The costumes, designed by Karen Kralik and Alyssa Johnson-Taylor, help distinguish each character. Aleksya wears a light blue dress, while the Frost Goblin King is wrapped in a tattered black shawl. Both Kai and Gerda are in green. Aleksya’s three suitors all wear different colored vests and tights, as do their entourages. The Enchantress of Summer and her Consort are in white with splashes of red, while the Daisies are in white skirts and yellow tops, and the Bluebells in blue dresses. The Frost Goblins wear tattered black shorts and carry swords, while the Snow Ghosts are in long white dresses and veils, and the Ice Sprites are in white dresses. The Gypsies are in red and black, while the Seer has a long purple dress. The Wise Woman Sage wears tan pants and a top, looking like a genie.
Lighting Designer Stacie Johnson-Leske adds to the atmosphere with lighting effects. Strobes flash briefly during the climactic battle. The Frost Goblin King’s palace is filled with light, emphasizing all the blues and whites of the set. Black light and reflective outfits help with the Snow Ghosts’ “floating.” Pink and blue lights bath the stage.
Dianna Cuatto does a wonderful job as Choreographer. The dancers navigate the stage and each other easily. Each dancer gets to shine, either solo, as a duet, or in a group. The dances are full of intricate movements that are both lovely to watch and help tell the story. Ballet lovers and newcomers alike will enjoy this show, which plays only through Sunday, October 20, so don’t miss out!
Running Time: Approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.
The Snow Queen plays through Sunday, October 20, 2019, at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts – 801 Chase Street, Annapolis, MD. For tickets, call the box office at 410-280-5640 or purchase them online.