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The world of arts:

A classic comes alive in ballet

Most of today’s young choreographers around the world have ambitious aspirations no matter to which country they belong. They explore an innovate to create concepts left behind by their peers. They are ready to take on the challenge.


A scene from ‘Beauty and the Beast’

In Sri Lanka, two such youngsters, Natalie and Natasha Jayasuriya hope dance will effect these ambitions. Nurtured by their veteran mother, Deanna Jayasuriya, the public will see the results of their talent when a much loved classic goes on boards at the Bishop’s College auditorium from July 28 to 30.

The sisters together will choreograph The Beauty and the Beast presented by the students of Deanna School of Dance in a cast of 450 dancers, directed by Deanna Jayasuriya, principal/chief choreographer of the school under whose watchful and professional eyes, the production is taking.

This full-length ballet is set to the major part of glorious music of Walt Disney’s sound track from the film to the scores of Alan Mankam along with lyrics of Howard Ashman. Amazing is the word to watch how Natalie and Natasha manoeuvre these young dancers into their steps, movements and positions.

Like dancing, choreography comes easy to them after being trained in classical ballet when they were hardly able to walk. The young dancers react to their training which makes it easy for choreographing this fairy tale.

The little dancers sink into their roles and are happy doing what is expected. It is a joy to see these future dancers, stirring up to take their places in the dance scene, some day. To Natalie and Natasha, this is choreographic training as well. ‘The Beauty and the Beast’ offers all the opportunities.

The origin of the ballet

Choreographed by Crank as a one-act ballet to the music of Ravel and danced at Sadler’s Wells Ballet Theatre in London on December 20, 1949 and followed by another version of this famous French fairy tale ‘pas de deux’ for a TV production of the BBC in 1953, the ballet was well received and gained momentum as a production.

Yet another full-length ballet was directed by Peter Darrel to the scores of Musgrave and mounted for the Scottish Theatre Ballet on November 19, 1969 was followed by a version based on the story by Mme de Villeneuvc. Germany too got wise to the ballet and had their version directed by Karl Wiesbaden in 1972.

Since then ‘Beauty and the Beast’ have been opted for children among others like ‘Cinderella’, ‘Nutcracker’, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, all of which have been produced by the Deanna School of Dancing with the two Jayasuriya sisters dancing in them, especially Natasha doing the ‘pas de deux’ in ‘Sleeping Beauty’.

The local version scheduled is a vibrant production retaining all its magic and splendour associated with this story. Stunning costumes and stage design, lighting effects, along with appropriate scores, makes ‘Beauty and the Beast’ very professional ballet of high ranking.

Synopsis

‘Beauty and the Beast’ is widely recognized as the best animated Walt Disney feature from the studios of Disney in the 1980’s and 90s. Based on a French classic, the fairy tale tells the story of an intelligent young girl, Belle who is scorned by the townspeople for being a bookworm.

Also, weary of fighting off the advances of the arrogant Gaston from whose miseries she wishes to escape from. In the meantime, her father gets lost in the woods and is captured by the horrible beast who had been a handsome young prince and turned into a monster by a witch.

Heartbroken and sad, Belle goes off in search of him and confronts the Beast who agrees to release him if she consents to live with him forever. Though repulsed at the beginning, Belle discovers his tender side filled with kindness.

The Beast with his team of servants who happen to be a clock, teapot, and a candlestand recognize Belle as their saviour. If the Beast and Belle fall in love with each other before his 21st birthday, he will be released from his curse. This is the theme of the story loved and cherished by children all over the world as a fantasy, fairytale and a beautiful dream.

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Credits:

Beast: Bharatha de Silva.
Beauty: Shonak Ranasinghe.
The clock: Rosalie Fernando.
Candlestick: Sadeesha Kariyawasam.
Duster: Minolie Fernando.
Teapot: Ruvini Wijeyanayake.
Gasten: Sajad Shabdeen.
Rose: Kiho Tanaka.
Chip: Tara Sela.
Choreography: Natalie and Natasha Jayasuriya.
Production Director: Deanna Jayasuriya.

 

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