Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Baba Yaga Ballet Introduces Our Favorite Witch To A New Generation

"Take a sweet girl, add a wicked stepmother, a misguided walk in the woods, an evil witch named Baba Yaga who travels in a flying cauldron, a cottage built on enormous chicken legs (what!?), crows on pointe shoes, dancing skeletons, adorable mushrooms and a battle scene."
There's no doubt Baba Yaga is making a comeback this year. Although she's been around in novels and niche gaming for many, many years, this year she's risen in stature by once again becoming a generally 'known' character for anyone interested in mythic or 'magical' stories, storytelling, rpgs (tabletop role playing games), as well as art and design. It's not a huge surprise to see theatrical productions springing up around her stories but it is a treat to see a ballet set around the tales.

In mid-October, during Halloween 'season', Neglia Ballet staged their family friendly production of Baba Yaga, based on the Russian fairy tales. Though there is no upcoming production planned as yet, we wanted to highlight a wonderful fairy tale theatrical event before it slipped through to the winter holiday season, so our fairy tale friends can be on the look out for opportunities to catch it in future.

Vasilissa is re-named Misha in this version, but she's still the brave heroine we love. While this ballet emphasizes the common threads between Vasilissa and Cinderella, the character of Baba Yaga (danced wonderfully in traditional character ballet style by Artistic Director & Choreographer Sergio Neglia), had enough bite to reflect the mutable fairy tale form of our favorite witch and still be accessible for families.
Neglia Ballet Artists’ own Sergio Neglia plays the part of the evil witch Baba Yaga and the cast is full of local youth talent including several students who attend Buffalo Public Schools.The music is by Mussorgsky, Glazunov, Grieg & Stravinsky. The beautiful and eerie backdrops are by David Butler and Mark DiVincenzo, imaginative set pieces by Michele Costa, colorful costumes by Donna Massimo and magical lighting affects by Dyan Burlingame. (Source)

Below are many more photos, including one of Sergio getting into character (which reminds me of seeing Cinderella from backstage as the ugly stepsisters get ready), and a newspaper clipping which gives a little insight into the production as well.

(For those interested in ballet reviews, you can read a review of the performance HERE: "Neglia’s “Baba Yaga” is a bewitching ballet".)

Fairy tale bonus of the day:
Since we're on the subject of ballet and Baba Yaga, here is a another version of Baba Yaga from the Hamburg Ballet, 'hamming it up' backstage in full costume. (Apparently used in La Sylphide here, which is not quite the version we know...). This little goofy video is all in good fun of course, but it's also an interesting commentary on hags, witches and Baba Yaga (and theater tales) in a different modern context. #thinkaboutit

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