Ballet can be tricky for young kids. The choreographed storylines of even well-known tales may be confusing to follow and kids may need to use more than a little imagination to tell a tree from an animal from a person when all of these are twirling across the stage on leaping, rotating, human legs. Not to mention ballet, for the most part, is an art form without words.
And this is exactly why, if you’re looking to add ballet to your kids’ entertainment roster, you might want to head to Seattle Center next week to see “Bruce Wells’ Snow White” danced by more than 70 students of the Pacific Northwest Ballet School.
Not only is this one-hour production exhilarating to watch, but it also hits all the main plot points of Disney’s classic animation (available on Disney+ or other streaming services). And it’s narrated.
Not just narrated, but NARRATED, by a humble king with a big booming fairytale voice. The king here happens to be Snow White’s dad.
PNB’s “Snow White” will be performed at Mary Oliver McCaw Hall at Seattle’s Center on March 25 at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. A special sensory-friendly performance will take place on March 24 at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are available by phone at 206.441.2424, in person at 301 Mercer Street at Seattle Center, or online at www.PNB.org. $14-62.
A beloved story
Princess Show White is cast out of her father’s castle by her stepmother, The Evil Queen, who wants to be the “fairest in the land.” Her magic mirror keeps reminding her that Snow White holds the fairest honor.
Snow White seeks refuge in the forest and eventually finds a home with seven charming dwarves. But the queen wants her fully out of the picture and tricks Snow White into biting a poisoned apple. Snow White falls into a deep sleep.
Luckily, she is awoken by the only antidote known for a poisoned apple – a kiss from her true love, a prince from a neighboring kingdom. The queen is forced to pay for her evil deeds: she is banished into her magic mirror forever. Snow White and her prince live happily ever after — with seven dwarves visiting them often in their castle.
Yes, young kids will “get it”
We attended the production with a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old and both fully understood what was happening in the story. They sat riveted as butterflies leaped across the stage, gentle dancing trees lined up to form a forest, and protective dwarves ambled about their cottage. And, of course, they couldn’t take their eyes off Snow White, who was danced to perfection at our show by Emerson Boll. Seriously, I regularly attend PNB’s professional troupe productions and I had to wonder if the leads in this production weren’t the pros. (They weren’t).
Even the more subtle dances, they got. When Snow White fell into a deep sleep and dreamed of her mother, Clara, age 5, leaned over and let me know “She’s dreaming about snowflakes and those are the snowflakes.” The dancers in this dream sequence sure looked like snowflakes to me.
What about the message?
I admit that while watching I wondered, not for the first time, about the message a show about who is “fairest” might be sending to the sweet girls sitting beside us. Not to mention the hundreds of other kids in the audience. I had the same worry about my kids watching the 1947 animated film.
But, by now I should never be surprised by the insightfulness of kids.
When I asked Fiona, age 7, why she thought the queen wanted to be the fairest, her take was this: The show was really about that other fairness, as in being equal, and the queen failed because she wasn’t a fair person. As for Snow White: “Well, I think she wants everything to be equal,’ Fiona said.
Playing out a Snow White with that definition of fairness was a fun mind game for me as I drove home. I hope somebody writes that version.
Clara, age 5, went with the definition intended in the original fairytale: “The queen wanted to be the most beautiful,” she told me, which led to a brief conversation about being beautiful inside versus outside. We decided Snow White won the fairest contest because she was beautiful and kind and caring inside, no matter what she looked like outside.
There are two more reasons to consider this production for a family outing — or any show offered by the PNB School for that matter. First, tickets can be had for as little as $14. Although be sure to arrive early to find a parking spot on the street. Parking in the garage across the street will cost you $25.
Second, kids inspire kids. Unlike watching a show performed by adults, watching one performed by children can be a true inspiration to young people trying to find their own artistic expression. A lobby full of twirling, pliéing, leaping kids made that clear to me.
More at Seattle’s Child:
“Carmela Full of Wishes: Rooted in realism and childhood wonder”
Find more things to do on seattleschild.com
Take a hike with your kids this week