Drexel On The Road: Ballet Pensacola in the Limelight with ‘Snow White’

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(WKRG) — During the pandemic, performing arts stages were forced to “go dark.” Now, the lights are beginning to come back on. In Pensacola, a classic fairy tale is making its way to live audiences over the next two weekends. Professional and student dancers from Ballet Pensacola are returning to the stage at the Pensacola Cultural Center for six performances of the classical ballet “Snow White.” While the story is familiar, this production adds its own spin.

“So, we have the classic Snow White, the classic Prince, the Evil Queen,” says Debi Janea, Ballet Pensacola Academy Director. “But we’ve added two characters.”

Janea says the addition of the characters deepens the story. “Any story, especially one where you can’t really use words, needs what I call a fairy godmother of the story. That’s not her title in this production, though. She is ‘The Nightingale,’ and she is our guide who guides Snow White through all of the evil things and helps Snow White. Then there’s an evil creature named ‘Noctis.’ So those two characters are really, really our own spin on it. This creature brought up from the dark and this nightingale who is a representation of light and purity.”

Performing arts took a big hit when Covid came to town. Productions were shut down in an effort to protect dancers and audiences and to stop the spread of the virus. It was deemed necessary, but it took a toll.

“Performing was a routine for me because I’ve been doing it since I was little. To have that taken away then given back, it’s a totally new perspective on it. And every time I go on, I am just so grateful,” says soloist Madelynn Hampton, who dances the role of the Evil Queen.

It’s been more than a year since principal dancers Hannah Holtsclaw (Snow White) and dance partner Marsalis Anderson-Clausell (The Prince) have danced together on the stage at the Pensacola Cultural Center.

“This is our first time on this stage since February of 2020. It feels so fresh and new and exciting,” says Holtsclaw.

“I am so happy to be back on stage,” adds Anderson-Clausell with a big smile.

But Janea and her dancers aren’t interested in keeping that joy to themselves. They want to share it with the Covid-weary community

“People come to the ballet to escape their daily troubles and worries and when that gone so was a lot of joy,” Hampton said.

“I hope this performance brings joy and happiness for the people who come watch the show,” Anderson-Clausell said.

Holtsclaw adds, “Hopefully, we are getting closer toward the end of the pandemic and I think this ballet shows spring and a new start to this new page that we will be able to turn over soon. I really just want the audience to feel how alive the show is and how bright it is.”

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