Ballet Theatre impresses with new studio, take on 'Aladdin'

EntertainmentDanceAladdin (movie)AdulteryBrian WalkerBaltimore Museum of ArtJosh Cohen

Ballet Theatre of Maryland will open its 33rd season with a take on "Aladdin," which features an impressive blend of contemporary storytelling, classic accompaniment, strong choreography and well-executed dance.

BTM has moved into a spacious new facility this year, complete with a large lobby and office space, plus two sprung-floor studios with elevated ceilings, to accommodate ballet lifts along with the more utilitarian necessities of locker rooms and showers for the dancers.

As artistic director Dianna Cuatto led a recent tour, the studio's expanded ceiling height brought a whole new element to viewing the performance; the apprentices were adept and well-synchronized in executing Cuatto's briskly paced "Aladdin" choreography. These new dancers seemed surprisingly skilled in their performance of a ballet that Cuatto announced they had begun learning only 40 minutes before our arrival.

"Aladdin" will be presented Oct. 21, 22 and 23 at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. It will also be given in a "sneak peek" performance Oct. 1 at Bowie Center for Performing Arts in a "Storybook Theatre" program that will also feature abbreviated versions of "Alice in Wonderland" and "Excalibur."

Cuatto said the performance will be the world premiere of "Aladdin" in ballet, set to the music of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" and Borodin's "Prince Igor." She said the production "fuses the traditional Arabian Nights story with more contemporary retellings into a story for the whole family."

The cast will include an oracle, a wizard, a sorceress, a genie and the "Lamp of Wonders." BTM ballet master Joshua Burnham will be cast in the role of Aladdin, ballet mistress Meagan Helman in the role of Princess Samira, Valerie Walker will be the Sorceress, Brian Walker will be the wizard/villain Jamal, Calder Taylor will play Mordechai, Kathryn Carlson will play the Oracle and Erica Wong will be Celia.

Two performances of "Aladdin" are scheduled for Feb. 11 at the 500-seat Mar-Va Theatre in Pocomoke City.

"The Nutcracker" comes to Maryland Hall in six performances Dec. 10, 11, 17 and 18, with Sugar Plum parties on Dec. 11 and 18.

Scheduled at Maryland Hall on Feb. 24, 25 and 26 are "The Scarlet Letter" and "The Firebird," to grant Cuatto's long-held wish to present an evening of one-act ballet. In "The Scarlet Letter," Kathryn Carlson is cast as Hester Prynne, Brian Walker as Dimmesdale and Nicole Seitz as Pearl. Erica Wong will be cast as Firebird.

On March 30, BTM returns to the Baltimore Museum of Art for "On the Move 2," an evening of repertory showcasing BTM dancers' strengths and versatility

The season closes at Maryland Hall with "Director's Choice" on April 13, 14 and 15, featuring "Reflections on Grace" — a work celebrating the 100th birthday of famed Denishawn dancer and Annapolis native Grace Clark. Also on the bill is "Primal Dreams" and new works by Cuatto and ballet mistress Helman. About this, Cuatto adds, "Developing new and talented choreographers is part of BTM's mission as Maryland's premier professional ballet company."

Now a major artistic presence in Annapolis, BTM's new home is on Moreland Parkway, where a ribbon-cutting ceremony officiated by Annapolis Mayor Joshua Cohen with Alderwoman Classie Hoyle will be held Sept. 17.

For further information or to purchase season tickets, call BTM's office at 410-224-5644 or btmmgr@balletmaryland.org. For single-performance tickets, call the Maryland Hall box office at 410-280-5640.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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EntertainmentDanceAladdin (movie)AdulteryBrian WalkerBaltimore Museum of ArtJosh Cohen
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