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N.D. Ballet Company to present annual story ballet at Empire

The North Dakota Ballet Company will take its audience down the rabbit hole with four performances of the story ballet "Alice in Wonderland" Jan. 20 to Jan. 22 at the Empire Arts Center in Grand Forks.

Lindsay Baez
Lindsay Baez will dance the part of Alice in "Alice in Wonderland," a story ballet presented in four performances Jan. 20-22 at Empire Arts Center. (Photos courtesy of Reeves Photography)

The North Dakota Ballet Company will take its audience down the rabbit hole with four performances of the story ballet "Alice in Wonderland" Jan. 20 to Jan. 22 at the Empire Arts Center in Grand Forks.

For some years now, the company has presented a story ballet each January and to the surprise of some, including the ballet's artistic director Laura Dvorak, the shows generally sell out or come close to it.

"The show in particular I think is gong to create even more interest because of the theme," Dvorak said.

Performances will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 20, at 2 and 7 p.m. Jan. 21 and at 2 p.m. Jan. 22. Tickets, at $12 for students and $15 for adults, are on sale now through the Chester Fritz Auditorium box office, by calling (701) 777-4090 and through Ticketmaster.com. Tickets also will be sold at the door and the box office will open an hour before each production.

"Alice in Wonderland" the ballet is close in story to Lewis Carroll's classic book of young Alice and her adventures down the rabbit hole and the fantastic creatures she meets there. The production involves more than 100 dances from ages 3 to adult with the featured roles performed by the North Dakota Ballet Company dancers and Advanced Academy dancers, and a special guest.

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Lindsay Baez, a teacher and dancer for North Dakota Ballet Company, will dance the part of Alice. A native of Birmingham, Ala., she received her early training from Cultural Arts Ballet Theatre under the direction of Dame DeDe Leda. She continued her studies with the Alabama Youth Ballet under Stevan Grebel and the Alabama Ballet under the direction of Tracy Alvey.

The special guest will be Cole Companion of the Birmingham Ballet, who will dance the lead role of Jack. Companion also danced with the company during its holiday performance of "The Nutcracker" with the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra.

Companion joined the Alabama Ballet for its 2007 through 2009 seasons, and he and Baez danced together there. Companion performed corps de ballet and soloist roles from Roger Von Flectern's "Romeo and Juliet," "Coppelia," "Graduation Ball," "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and "Mezzin with Mozart." He has spent the past two years with the Birmingham Ballet Reperatory Company, where he has been featured as Nutcracker Prince and Cavalier, Flourimond in "The Sleeping Beauty," and Shmee in Cindy Free's "Peter Pan," as well as in principal roles in Alfonzo Figeroua's "Hues" and "Terpscirous."

"It's great for us to have Cole with us," Dvorak said. "Cole's a very gifted dancer but also a very great teacher."

Other characters and their dancers are Queen of Hearts, Kayla Narum; King of Hearts, Duane Arneson; White Rabbit, Molly Des Roches; and the Mad Tapper (this show's version of the Mad Hatter), Erin Porter.

Flamingo soloist will be Emily Theurer and Hearts Solist will be Brooke Erickson. Other dancers are Jourdan Abstein, Nikki Anderson, Emily Burkland, Lisa Delvo, Lauren Fischer, Linda Goehring, Aliya Grindstaff, Mikayla Hensrud, Rachael Iiams, Samantha Jocketty, Anna Johnson, Darin Kerr, Natalie Koch, Beth Laidlaw, Nicole Mahanna, Sue Moe, Tyler Morgan, Grace Sproule and Ellie Unkenholz.

The production also makes room for dozens of very young dancers who are just beginning ballet lessons, Dvorak said.

"Alice" is a contemporary ballet that's full of life with exciting characters and fantastic dancing, she said.

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"We are thrilled that we are able to provide this type of artistic opportunity for our dancers to take part in, as well as quality arts entertainment for our community," Dvorak said.

In an effort at community outreach, the North Dakota Ballet Company will be providing storybook readings of "Alice in Wonderland" at libraries throughout the region. Also there will be a special performance for local schools early Jan. 20. Participating schools are provided with a curriculum to review before the show and receive a special backstage discussion with the dancers and a

Q&A with the cast.

"Alice in Wonderland" is directed by Dvorak, Emily Burkland and Lindsay Baez. For more information visit www.northdakotaballet.org .

iReach Tobin at (701) 780-1134; (800) 477-6572, ext. 134; or send e-mail to ptobin@gfherald.com .

IF YOU GO

- What: "Alice in Wonderland," a story ballet presented by North Dakota Ballet Company

- When and where: 7 p.m. Jan. 20, 2 and 7 p.m. Jan. 21 and 2 p.m. Jan. 22, Empire Arts Center, Grand Forks

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- Tickets: Adults, $15; students, $12; available in advance at Chester Auditorium box office, by calling (701) 777-4090 and through Ticketmaster.com. Tickets also will be sold at the door beginning one hour before each show

- Artistic director: Laura Dvorak

- Choreographers: Laura Dvorak, Emily Burkland, Lindsay Baez, Kayla Narum, Erin Porter

- Technical Director: Candyce Iseminger

- Production Assistant: Chris Berg

- Set/Props Crew: Annie Gordon, Duane Arneson, Beth Haney, Emily Burkland, Rich Clement

- Costume Designer: Amy Sanner

- Make-up/Hair Artist: Sue Moe

- Cast of characters: Lindsay Baez as Alice; Cole Companion as Jack/Nave of Hearts; Jourdan Abstein, Nikki Anderson, Duane Arneson, Emily Burkland, Lisa Delvo, Molly Des Roches, Brooke Erickson, Lauren Fischer, Linda Goehring, Aliya Grindstaff, Mikayla Hensrud, Rachael Iiams, Samantha Jocketty, Anna Johnson, Darin Kerr, Natalie Koch, Beth Laidlaw, Nicole Mahanna, Sue Moe, Tyler Morgan, Kayla Narum, Erin Porter, Grace Sproule, Emily Theurer, Ellie Unkenholz,

- Baby white rabbits: Lindsey Anderson, Demarica Arneson, Chloe Bilden, Breanna Blanton, Kamryn Buettner, Kierra Bustillo, Emma Cavalli, Maysa Christman, Elizabeth Corcoran, Adele Erickson, Atrissa Gorouhi, Autumn Hebl, Amara Howson, Madilyn Hoverson, Mercedes Hoverson, Isaiah Jennings, Nala Jennings, Madison Kiley, Bridget Kopplin, Kaitlin Kopplin, Marly Kvasager, Rylie Lelm, Natalie Mahlum, Destiny McCoy, Jiselle McGurran, Arianna Miller, Samantha Mondry, Mia Narvaiz, Larissa Osowski, Karishma Pearson, Kenya Poitra, Payton Roselli, Sydney Rud, Tessa Sanner, Lainie Sauter, Peyton Schuster, Grace Sperry, Jada Stafford, Faith Taylor, Mary Vasquez, Emily Walker, Sophia Wevers, Ellery White, Olivia Whitesock,.

- Deck of Cards: Nora Berry, Allison Bingham, Casey Bouvette, Katie Brindamour, Cosette Clement, Kaitlyn Corcoran, Amy Cremers, Lilliam Funk, Genevieve Gordon, Raleigh Hart, Lyric Langill, Regina Lofstrom, Brenna Lund, Mackinsie Milton, Aspen Moreland, Zoe Morris, Kourtney Muus, Fiona Osborne, Maddie Sandberg, Lauren Sanner, Arianna Simeone, LaKiaya Steckler,

- Major sponsors: HB Light and Sound, Morgan Printing, Myra Foundation, North Valley Arts Council, Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau

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