A classic fairy tale will come to life through dance as the Footlight Dance Centre performs “The Snow Queen” May 5-6 at the Performing Arts Theater at the Community Campus in Hailey.
“‘The Snow Queen’ is a wonderful story/fairy tale that I have been interested in producing, but just didn’t seem like the right time until this past year,” said Hilarie Neely, owner and artistic director of Footlight. “I start working on this performance a year in advance. Over the summer, I research music, past performances, different ways to tell the story through dance, costume and set planning.”
This story was written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1844, originally in seven chapters. The prologue introduces the audience to the Snow Queen in her ice palace, where hobgoblins have made a magic mirror. Good and evil are a part of the story in which respect, perseverance and loyalty finds two friends looking for each other after one is captured by the mirror’s spell. The heroine, Gerda, sets off on a journey encountering different characters until she arrives at the snow palace to save her friend Kai. Disney was inspired to tell the story in its “Frozen” franchised series.
The Snow Queen role will be played by Hazel Ludwig, a senior at Wood River High School, who has been dancing at Footlight since she was 4.
“I have been dancing my whole life and was very excited to play the lead, and to be able to show off all of our hard work and years of training,” said Ludwig, 18.
After she graduates, Ludwig is going to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and hopes to major in political science or public policy. She also wants to continue to dance, but is not sure what that looks like yet.
The two friends in the show are Gerda, who will be played by senior Ava Knowles, and Kai, who will be played by Leo Star, a junior.
Piper Kolb will play the Crow, Lilia Page the Princess lead, and Bridgette Silva the Rose Princess—all are seniors. Georgia Geagan will carry the role of Nomad lead and Riley Jessen the Vagabond lead—both are also graduating this year.
“I think about all the characters that could tell the story through dance,” Neely said. “Then I run it by my faculty to see if they might like the project and which characters they could see choreographing a portion of the production in their style of dance. We then choose music and start to work on costuming, as that all takes a tremendous amount of time.”
The performance includes dance genres of ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop and tap techniques that make for a lively show with choreography by instructors Gabi Bryant, Allani Fostvedt, Robyn Fox, Shellrae Garnes, Hayley Henderson, Melodie Taylor-Mauldin, Bronwyn McGary, Neely, Leah Taylor, Kassidy Thompson and Anne Winton.
Guest choreographer Kioa Delos Reyes set the “advanced hip hop” piece for the show, and Mackenzie King was guest choreographer for “intermediate modern.” The 210-dancer cast ranges in age from 5 years to seniors in high school.
“I love that dance uses all your senses, your mind and your body to tell a story,” Neely said. “When the two parts of our humanity come together in harmony on the stage, there is nothing like it—it is ephemeral. The in-the-moment presence of performing and the audience electricity, which makes the art form so powerful.”
Neely started dancing in middle school and she said it was like a lightning bolt that hit her and she knew it was her calling to dance and teach. Footlight Dance Centre is now in its 39th year.
“I had a wonderful, inspiring teacher, who is now in her 80s and still teaching, and she gave me the essence of a love for moving, which I knew I would find joy in passing down to others,” Neely said.
Footlight Dance Centre presents “Snow Queen,” May 5-7 at the WRHS Performing Arts Theater at the Community Campus in Hailey. Friday and Saturday start at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. All tickets to are $10 and are available in advance at the Community Campus or Iconoclast Books, Independent Goods or Hank and Sylvie’s in Ketchum. Pre-sold tickets are encouraged, as the performances typically sell out quickly. ￼
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