Let it 'Snow'
California Contemporary Ballet celebrates 15 years of bringing Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Snow Queen’ to the stage
By Carl Kozlowski 12/19/2012
When Aerin Holt interpreted Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” as a ballet in 1998, she thought she was just creating a show for her California Contemporary Ballet troupe. She never imagined that the show would become a holiday perennial for the La Cañada Flintridge-based arts institution and inspire countless other troupes around the world to develop their own versions of Andersen’s classic children’s tale.
Clearly, Holt’s efforts at interpreting Andersen’s heavily metaphorical story, about a young girl named Gerda and her efforts to save her best friend from the evil Snow Queen, have paid off. This weekend, she’ll be proudly presenting the 15th anniversary production of the ballet, which she has kept fresh over the years by updating the choreography and always auditioning and hiring new cast members, at Glendale Community College.
“The sets started as cardboard cut-outs created by kids, but now we’ve got really professional sets with a fairytale castle that’s partly levitated on wires and the Snow Queen’s sleigh,” explains Holt. “We also now have aerial arts that include the Snow Queen balancing 40 feet in the air, and they help us bring to life ‘creatures’ that resemble wolves, panthers, leopards and other wild animals.”
In addition to those expansive efforts, the show features handcrafted costumes by Pasadena-based Christine Morrison and Nancy Scott, as well as an original music score by Randall Michael Tobin.
While “The Snow Queen” started with an all-youth cast, Holt started using adult professional dancers in 2007 and has been blending professionals with youth talent ever since. The professional company of dancers is also supported by actors and gymnasts from the community in chorus roles, which combine to create a 65-member cast from Los Angeles and the surrounding areas of Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena and La Cañada Flintridge.
This year’s cast includes Pasadena resident Nicholas Zerman as the Prince, a move he’s made into the troupe’s professional ranks after years as a youth company member.
“I used to look up to the guy that performed as the Prince, and now I dance the role,” says Zerman, who is joined by fellow area residents Lissa Farrington of La Crescenta and Julia Houser of La Cañada Flintridge. Together, they’ll blend their skills, not only in ballet but also in other forms of contemporary and classical dance moves to create a show that should be memorable for all.
“The Snow Queen” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Glendale Community College Theater, 1500 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale. Tickets are $20 to $25 in advance, and $25 to $30 at the door. Visit snowqueenballet.com or calballet.com or call (818) 790-7924.