Utah Valley University’s (UVU) theatre, dance, and art departments have teamed up with local community members and professionals to produce a one-act ballet of “Hansel and Gretel.” This interdisciplinary narrative ballet will premiere at The Noorda Center for the Performing Arts Scott and Karen Smith Theatre from Feb. 16-18 at 7:30 p.m., with a 45-minute family matinee on Feb. 18 at 2 p.m.
The UVU Repertory Ballet Ensemble production will feature an original score and student-created scenic elements. UVU dance majors will perform alongside pre-collegiate dancers from the community. Choreographed by co-artistic directors Jamie A. Johnson and Christa St. John, this interdisciplinary, narrative ballet is the first of its kind for UVU’s School of the Arts.
“As we rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, during which there was a halt in live performance opportunities, we believe this production will be instrumental in helping UVU reengage with the community,” said St. John. “Students’ involvement in this project exposes them to diverse artists and community members, fosters cross-disciplinary relationships, and enhances students’ professional skills. Through community engagement and the interdisciplinary nature of the project, we are working to strengthen bonds within the university and community.”
UVU designed the production to make students more marketable in their prospective professional realms; giving them hands-on experience helps them better understand their potential career paths. In this production, art and design students can translate their artistic visions into concrete material by collaborating with faculty members Amber Tutwiler and Jason Lanegan and a technical theatre consultant. Combining scenic elements with interactive digital projections, students can develop unique skill sets that equip them to work within the context of 21st-century multimedia productions.
Community high schoolers auditioned to participate in the project and rehearsed at their local studios before joining UVU dancers for technical rehearsals. This provides high school dancers the chance to challenge themselves with the advanced choreography that full-scale productions demand, all while illuminating the variety of opportunities available to them at UVU’s School of the Arts.
“Participation in large-scale, interdisciplinary work is integral to the students’ professional development,” said Johnson. “Through ‘Hansel and Gretel,’ dance students will explore ballet, mime, and acting in a nurturing environment to foster a skill set that otherwise would not be developed in traditional course curriculum, enabling them to step into large-scale, narrative works with ease.”