Sarah Avery-Meyers will perform in each of the ballet stories presented by Ballet Diane Hyrst. - Photo by Andrew Kemp

'High Tea & Ballet Stories'

For its debut production, Ballet Diane Hyrst will present excerpts from three beloved fairy-tale classics — "The Nutcracker," "Coppelia" and "Sleeping Beauty."

"The idea is to introduce these works and to charm, please and create interest and passion for the fine art of ballet," says Diane Hyrst, co-founder and former artistic director for Ballet Rogue, which closed in July.

This eclectic collage of children's stories will entertain both children and adults with its whimsical costumes, imaginative scenes and masterful dance numbers from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, and Sunday, Dec. 5.

In honor of the holiday season, the production will open with Tchaikovsky's wintertime favorite, "The Nutcracker," based on the German tale by E.T.A. Hoffman. The story evolves from a Victorian holiday setting into a magical realm where snowflakes and fairies dance and a young girl's nutcracker doll fights life-size mice. From the ballet, dancers will perform Act 1, Scenes 1 and 3, and a selection from Act 2. "Nutcracker" buffs may recognize this as the children's scene, the snowy pas de deux and the highly stylized, international folk dances.

"People expect to see 'The Nutcracker' because of the season, so I knew I wouldn't be wrong in selecting parts of the ballet," says Hyrst.

Also based on a story by Hoffman, "Coppelia" is a comic ballet first choreographed by Arthur Saint-Léon. The charming story is set in a peasant village, where Doctor Coppélius designs a dancing doll that steals the heart of Franz, a village swain.

The ballet will feature only the wedding scene pas de deux.

The production will culminate with the opening christening ceremony from the French fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty," written by Charles Perrault and choreographed by Marius Petipa. Hyrst says the ballet's rich musical texture and symbolic storyline has always appealed to her. However, the extravagant costumes, sets and number of dancers required for "Sleeping Beauty" have prevented her from staging the ballet before.

“ ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is considered the most expensive ballet to produce of all the classical works,” says Hyrst.

Hyrst, along with chore-ographers Gavin Millette, Mindi Collette and Sarah Avery-Meyers, collaborated on all 30 dances featured in "Ballet Stories." More than 25 dancers will take part in the show, including Larry Miller, Avery-Meyers, Nik Horaites, Gavin Millete, John Fiore, Maudie McRobert, Junga Knoblich, Linda Nichols, Madison Hogan and Ryleigh Buchanon.

The costumes, designed by Jo Dunbar Designs, will be whimsical in "Sleeping Beauty," colorful in "The Nutcracker" and ornate in "Coppelia."

Sets were created by Wolf Productions.

High tea, featuring finger sandwiches and confections and treats prepared by Frau Kemmling Schoolhaus Brewhaus, will be served from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets to the performance only are $16 and $8 for children ages 10 and younger; tickets to the tea and performance are $25 and $15 for children ages 10 and younger.

Tickets are available at the Schoolhaus Brewhaus in Jacksonville, Dance & Beyond in Medford and Paddington Station in Ashland. Call 541-899-9665 for information.

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