Magical “Snow White” Ballet Delights Children and Adults

The Minnesota Ballet enchanted audience members, both young and old, with the first of their three performances of the classic fairy tale “Snow White.” The evening was a true showcase for the company of professional principal dancers, apprentices, and students.

While not an exact reproduction of the Disney classic film, the Brothers Grimm version, on which the ballet was based, gave the story elements that the audience was familiar with, including light and dark elements.

Music from composers Dmitrii Shostakovich and Holger Paulli had all the dramatic, sweeping, and playful elements needed for the dancers to bring this beloved tale to life.

Talented student dancers portraying the Seven Dwarfs were an audience favorite. From their first entrance in their colorful costumes, it was fun to identify the character traits of Dopey, Grumpy, Bashful, Sneezy, Sleepy, Happy, and Doc.

Piper Linn, Martha Kliewer, Adelaide von Rabenau, Kadence von Rabenau, Kylin Hahn, Zinnia Kracker, and Natalie Carter, were obviously having great fun using their dancing and acting skills to bring these classic characters to life.

Other students in the company charmed with their portrayals of birds, deer, bees, bunnies, and butterflies, enchanting Snow White, and bringing laughter and applause from the audience.

Providing opportunities for the young students to shine, to grow, and to feel a part of something much bigger than themselves, was clearly part of the evening’s mission. Whether playing pages, a master of ceremonies, or a sweet woodland creature, each provided an important threads to the tapestry of the ballet.

Will each of these students pursue a career in dance? Obviously not. But will they remember these performances with pride? Absolutely! And the chance to watch the professional company and how they pursue their craft is an invaluable life lesson.

Members of the professional company used both their exceptional dancing skills, as well as their clear characterizations, to bring new shades of meaning to the story. One standout was Matthew Frezzell, the Huntsman, who starts as a seemingly heartless villain, and ends showing the depths of his humanity and sympathy for Snow White. His dancing was athletic and powerful, and his stage presence was electric.

Ximena Azurmendi’s Evil Queen, with her legion of gargoyles, was everything one would want in a narcissistic and murderous diva. Beautiful, but lethal, Azurmendi was convincing throughout, both with her elegant dancing and her spot-on characterization, to the inevitable moment when she hands Snow White the bright red, poisoned apple.

Anthony Cefalu, in the role of the King, had some of the evening’s stronger dancing, and was an empathetic father to Snow White, even while being blind to the Evil Queen’s plots.

With a beautiful pairing with the Evil Queen on the other side of the magic mirror was dancer Jessica Lopes, evoking Snow White’s Mother, looking like Snow White herself, and serving as a stark contrast to the Evil Queen.

As the Prince, Issac Sharratt was a commanding presence and partnered well with Brianna Crockett as Snow White. He demonstrated both a strong ability to showcase Crockett and to dance as a polished soloist with skill and finesse. His lifts were gorgeous, showing the range of his strength and agility.

Crockett was a delight, channeling all the sweetness, innocence, and gentleness required for one of the all-time favorite fairy tale heroines. Her dancing was graceful and expressive as she moved with a seemingly effortless ease, while showing beautiful technique en pointe.

Crockett and Sharatt had marvelous dances in the wedding celebration scene at the end of the ballet, with both of them able to show their individual virtuosity and their partnering skills.

Serving as Artistic Director for the Minnesota Ballet and Choreographer for “Snow White,” Karl van Rabenau’s choreography was cohesive, creative, and appropriate for the varying ages and abilities of his dancers. He was able to bring out the talents of his smallest students, all the way up to challenging his professional dancers to show the depths of their talents.

Rabenau’s choreographic story-telling was strong throughout. It was only in the long wedding celebration in Act. III that things dragged a little, with a bit of repetition in the choreography and use of dancers.

The show’s technical elements, while not especially complex or intricate for the most part, provided the needed elements to tell the story. Ann Gumpper’s designs were especially effective in creating the ambience of the shadowy woods and in the drop for the elegant palace. The lighting was serviceable, but a bit dark at times, especially in the Dwarf’s cottage.

Costumes were decidedly a star of the show. Designers Heather Boudreau and Sandra Ehle did a marvelous job, from the cutest bunny tail or set of bees’ wings, to the regal and elegant costumes of the court and the principals. The detail work in each piece, for each dancer, was impeccable.

With “Snow White,” the Minnesota Ballet obviously had an “entry level” ballet for the youngest members in the audience, and also appealed to sophisticated ballet lovers who could enjoy all the nuances and power of the professional dancers in the company.

Fundraising Dinner/Auction Next Up for the Minnesota Ballet

“The Resplendent Table” on Friday, April 5 in the Depot’s Great Hall, is described as “an enchanted evening inspired by the grace and grandeur of classical ballet” with lavish tables, candelabra, and beautiful table settings.

The five course dinner from Midcoast Catering is accompanied by wine parings. Attendees can support the Ballet by shopping experiences and items from their silent and live auctions.

Table side entertainment by the Minnesota Ballet’s company dancers will add to the evening’s festivities.

For tickets and information, visit or call 218-733-7570.

Sheryl Jensen

A retired educator with the Duluth Public Schools, Sheryl Jensen has been a theater director of over 60 school and community productions. Her production of William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew at East High School won the National High School Theater award from the BRAVO television network.

Having written theater, music, dance, and opera reviews for the Duluth News Tribune for many years, she now is the Arts & Entertainment Editor for Destination Duluth.





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