Views / Backstage Pass Regina

Hansel and Gretel: Vancouver’s Coastal City Ballet takes show on the road to Regina

Coastal City Ballet is bringing whimsy back with their production of Hansel and Gretel on Feb. 7 and 8 at the University of Regina’s Riddell Centre.

The production will re-create an authentic fairy tale experience with original choreography from Irene Schneider, the former artistic director of the Magdeburg Ballet in Germany, as well as a cast of talented young dancers.

McKeely Borger, 20, who will star as Gretel in the performance, says she enjoyed combining theatre techniques into her ballet steps.

“It’s a children’s story, which means that we can take the fairy tale character acting to a whole other level,” said Borger. “It adds a lot to the experience of dancing onstage.”

The Regina shows are extra special for Borger, since she is originally from the city.

Her career so far has taken her across North America to institutes including the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City, the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory in Connecticut and the Banff Centre for Fine Arts. She is now in her second year with the pre-professional Coastal City Ballet in Vancouver.

“Some of the local kids from the community are in the show,” said Borger. “So for me it’s a really nice feeling to be able to extend the experience to kids who are growing up there.”

Artistic director of Coastal City Ballet Li Yaming said the show offers a more lighthearted and multidisciplinary approach to the ballet than traditional classics such as Swan Lake or The Sleeping Beauty.

This is in part to benefit the target audience, he explained.

“We purposely used an opera score so more people can understand,” Yaming said. “When they see and hear that, it will give them a new understanding of how ballet steps actually were composed.”

He added that it is the first time this staging of Hansel and Gretel, which premiered in 2012, will be performed outside of B.C. A successful Kickstarter campaign plus some help from the Regina community made the trip a reality. “It all comes down to support for the arts,” said Yaming.

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