Local Ballet Company Presents New Original Performance in Glendale, Featuring Local Professional and Amateur Talent
Aerin Holt of California Contemporary Ballet (www.CalBallet.com), the originator of the popular ballet “The Snow Queen,” has created a production she has long dreamed of: a full-length ballet adapted from Hans Christian Andersen’s story “Thumbelina.” Jaclyn Stryker, a professional dancer and resident of La Crescenta, stars in the title role.
Featuring original choreography by Holt and an original musical score by composer and orchestrator Dwight Bernard Mikkelsen, the performance will be premiering in Glendale on June 29 and June 30. “Thumbelina,” like “The Snow Queen,” is a classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, the author of such immortal fables as “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” and “The Ugly Duckling.”
Having produced the popular seasonal piece “The Snow Queen” for 15 consecutive years, Holt felt it was time to create a new ballet for her company.
“Thumbelina is a story that I’ve thought about for a long time,” she said. “I had a certain ideal for the music, and I envisioned a set with oversized flowers and toadstools that would create a world in which my dancers could appear tiny – the size of your thumb.”
Stryker warms up in a corner of the studio, quietly wincing at the pain from a sore muscle in her hip. Nonetheless, she continues to extend her right foot high above her head, stretching it around into an arabesque. Stryker has recently returned to her roots in Los Angeles’ foothill communities from San Francisco, where she performed with several professional dance companies.
The star of the piece, Stryker, who received her core dance training from California Dance Arts and has danced in many original roles under Holt’s artistic direction, has often heard Holt speak about creating a ballet adapted from Andersen’s story of Thumbelina.
“It’s been Aerin’s dream to create this ballet for as long as I can remember,” said Stryker. “She made it sound fantastic and I wanted to be a part of it.”
When Holt first spoke of the idea to friend and classical composer Mikkelsen, he loved the idea and immediately began composing music in earnest.
“I was very impressed with his musical interpretations,” said Holt.
Holt is largely responsible for the ballet’s choreography, but was pleased to collaborate with Lynn Bryson Pittenger on certain sections of the ballet, including the delivery of the final scene: Thumbelina’s arrival at the Vale of the Fairies. This is the scene in which Holt plans to create the essence of a fairy world.
Thanks to donations and volunteer contributions of work and materials, the sets will indeed include 10-foot tall flowers, some five foot toadstools, and the famous tulip from which Thumbelina is born – which will actually open its petals to release her onto the stage.
“The story of Thumbelina is certainly a child’s fairy tale,” said Holt. “However, through quality music, choreography and dancing, it can be told with depth and emotion so adults can appreciate it as well.”
With a melding of contemporary dance, classical ballet and aerial arts, this performance is an excellent choice for the entire family.
“Thumbelina” by California Contemporary Ballet premieres at Glendale Community College, 1500 N. Verdugo Road in Glendale on June 29 at 7:30 p.m., and on June 30 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20–$30 at www.CalBallet.com. Group tickets are also available.