Mihailo “Misha” Djuric led his principal dancers through a grueling rehearsal in Festival Ballet’s rehearsal studio, as they prepared for what the affable artistic director called an “enormous undertaking,” the New England premiere of Jordon Morris’ “Peter Pan.”
“Peter Pan has been on my list for a long time,” Misha said. “I’ve been looking for just the right production, the best version, since 2000.
“There are a number of versions, some requiring 40 to 50 dancers,” he said. “This one fits our company perfectly, employing the same number of dancers in the company: 25. Every version is different. Morris’ is filled with drama. It is very theatrical. It has hardship, love, conflict, excitement and some very complex flying sequences involving up to five characters at a time.”
Massachusetts native and East Providence resident Ian Matysiak is excited about playing Peter Pan.
“I saw Kathy Rigby in the Broadway musical, and I played the role of Michael when I was younger,” he said.
Ian studied with the Boston Ballet Center for Dance Education and has figured prominently in many of Festival Ballet’s productions over the past six years.
“Peter is such a great role, not only to dance but to play. He changes his personality, and the dancing is technically challenging…
and then there’s the flying,” he said, with a hint of trepidation in his voice.
Djuric has flown in a technician from the prestigious Flying by Foy, the production company that specializes in aerial flying effects for live theatre. Kirsten Evans plays Wendy, and will be flying alongside Ian. She is also from Massachusetts and now resides on the East Side of Providence, having been with the company for the past four years. She began training with Festival Ballet at the age of 11 and performed in the junior company for five years before joining the main company.
“I have to fly,” she said, with a touch of fear in her eyes. “I’m freaking out. But I’m also excited about it.”
A special presentation will be put on for school children at the Vets on Friday morning before the opening show that evening at 8 p.m., May 16 and performances at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, May17 and 18.
“I love performing for the students,” Kirsten said. “They are very vocal. Although we can’t see them [with the stage lights on] we can hear them. They cheer if they like you. A lot of energy comes from the kids.”
While the flying is an extra added attraction, the quality of Festival Ballet’s dancing is first class. I watched them rehearse last week in front of the full-length mirrors, where they, and Misha, could watch every move. Sequences were repeated until they were satisfied. When not rehearsing their parts, the dancers were busy stretching, drinking from their water bottles and going through the intricate movements. Dancing is not for sissies!
“Peter Pan” is at the Vets, One Avenue of the Arts, Providence, May 16,17 and 18. Running time is 137 minutes with one intermission. This is a show for people of all ages. Tickets are $23-$85. For reservations call 421-ARTS or go to www.thevetsri.com.