Performances are this Friday and Saturday at the Newberry Opera House.
Kendyl Griffith and Peggy Wilson co-founded the guild in 1977, but the official anniversary is being celebrated this year-30 years after the Newberry Ballet Guild was declared a non-profit organization. The two worked together at Wilson Dance Academy, but wanted to offer dancers more.
“There was just such a lack of ballet groups until a number of years ago. I wanted to give my students another venue to perform,” Griffith said. “I really wanted to give my ballet dancers another opportunity to perform without all the jazz and the tap and the clogging.”
Karen White, costume director and mother of Young Snow White (Leanna White), assures the guild's won't be a “run of the mill performance.”
“These children are so encouraged to be performers,” White said. “Kendyl just takes it to the highest notch. It's a lot of dedication and a lot of work. For something like that to exist for 30 years is just amazing.”
Former guild member Lily Hunt, now a freshman at the College of Charleston, said that being a part of the local dance organization made memories she won't soon forget. She'll contribute to this year's performance as an appreciative member of the audience.
“Being a member of the guild was a great experience for me. It gave me an opportunity to improve my ballet and performance skills, while having fun and making great friends. I still keep up with the girls I danced with,” Hunt said. “Performances were always exciting-putting on each other's make-up, arguing about who had the best costumes, and of course, laughing at our on-stage mess-ups that no one noticed but us.“
This year 21 performers make up the Snow White cast. Guild members range in age from 8 to 18. Members must be sponsored and have at least two years of ballet training behind them. Auditions are typically in April. This year's members have been rehearsing since September for their annual performance.
“Our version of the story starts with a prologue which is actually a birthday party scene, and it takes place when Snow White is a young girl and she's a servant of the court,” Griffith describes. “Her and the prince are the same age and they're really good friends, and the mother is real distraught that he likes this little girl that's beneath him. It kind a sets up the rest of the play with Snow White being thrown out of the castle and her having feelings for the prince.”
Mary Beth Pease picks up the story as the grown Snow White. Once banished from the castle, a nightingale leads her through the forest to the home of the seven dwarfs. The play mostly follows the classic storyline, including the famous last scene where the handsome prince wakes Snow White with a kiss.
“Our prince is being played by Scott Richardson,” said Griffith. “He has really stepped up to the plate and has done an excellent job, especially being a non-dancer. He's doing some lifts and turns with Snow White and things that are totally foreign to him. It's been a pleasure to have him in the studio.”
Griffith encourages all ages to attend the Ballet Guild's performances.
“With a ballet being such a visual thing, even very young audience members are usually mesmerized,” she said. “Unlike a play, they don't have to follow a dialogue. It's all visual. There's no spoken word.”
Tickets are $12.50 for adults and $7.50 for students. Snow White will be performed on the Opera House stage on Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. School performances will be held Friday at 8:30 and 11 a.m. Friday. Also, an RSVP reception will be held Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. for former guild members and sponsors.
For tickets, call the Opera House at 276-6264.