Colorado Ballet appealed to the young at heart with their spring performance of Peter Pan this past weekend at DCPA’s Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Consisting of three acts, the ballet followed the familiar journey of Peter Pan, Wendy, Jon, and Michael past the second star on the right and straight until morning to Neverland and subsequent adventures.
The company really captured the attention of a younger audience with this piece – and it’s really lovely to see them catering to this crowd. There’s a time and a place for the modern and the funk (this spring brings Tribute – to be featured in the print edition of 303 this week) – and there’s a time and a place for the lighthearted. Peter Pan is by no means a technical piece; the dancers called upon their acting chops to get the job done. But it’s a piece that gets a different audience in the mix, exposes young children to the art form, and has the potential to bring adults to their first ballet when their children beg to attend.
The usage of outstanding props, scenery, and the work of stage hands really deserves the standing ovation for this ballet. Not only did the dancers literally fly (obviously with the usage of wires) across the stage during every act, but Colorado Ballet did the classical-ballet-unthinkable: they broke the fourth wall and established true empathy with the audience. At one point, during a scene involving Captian Hook’s realized fears of the crocodile, a big, glittering crocodile swam along the rim of the orchestra pit, and audience members could actually reach out and touch it. During the scene when Tinker Bell drinks poison for Peter Pan and falls asleep into a deathlike state, Peter calls upon the audience to help him (not literally, in ballet, mime-like movements). Some of the audience members, myself included, were chosen at random and handed soft, feather like lights to flash during this scene. It was really quite clever. You could look all around you and see little lights flashing all over the Ellie, some waved voraciously by children, others timidly by older adults, but it really made my heart skip a little. It brought the magic into your heart – ready or not. And of course, Tinker Bell woke up.
Colorado Ballet reminds us that it’s ok to believe in fairies – in fact, you should clap if you do. You should think happy thoughts, read lots of bed time stories, and never, ever grow up.
Peter Pan runs through this weekend, with times and dates listed as follows:
Wednesday, 2/29/12 at 6:30pm
Friday, 3/2/12 at 7:30pm
Saturday, 3/2/12 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm
Sunday, 3/4/12 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm