Founded in 1994 by Southern California natives Victoria Koenig and Kevin Frank Myers, Inland Pacific Ballet (IPB) now includes an extensive repertoire of both classical and contemporary ballets. On April 29 and 30, 2023 IPB will present its spectacular landmark production of The Little Mermaid at the Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga, California. This enchanting underwater adventure is based on the original Hans Christian Andersen story about a mermaid who is willing to sacrifice her life for love. The company’s press release states “unlike the dark ending of the original story, this original ballet from Inland Pacific Ballet has created a surprise ending that adds to the enjoyment of the traditional tale.”
The creative team that IPB has brought together to produce this delightful ballet include Portland-based choreographers Daniel Kirk and Eric Skinner who have made use of innovative aerial technology to create the feeling of a real underwater environment. Others include Lighting Designer Stephen Yarbrough; internationally acclaimed Scenic Designer Nancy Seruto; and designers Craig Sheppard and Jeanne Nolden who have created a spectacular blend of ornate costumes and delightful and active puppet sea creatures. Additional puppet creatures were created in 2019 by Jesse Mooney-Bullock of MoonBull Studio, and former Inland Pacific Ballet Artistic Director Victoria Koenig who conceived the rich sound collage featuring the music of classical composers Ravel, Debussy, Britten, Vaughan Williams, Janacek, and Dvorak.
Dancers featured in IPB’s The Little Mermaid include: Jenna Valdez as the Little Mermaid, IPB Ballet Master Reece Taylor as the Prince, and guest artist Fredrick Eric Davis as the Seagull. Davis is a former member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble as well as performing with the Dance Theatre of Harlem Company on national and international tours.
“The Little Mermaid has become one of IPB’s most beloved productions by many families, and we are thrilled to bring it back for the first time since 2019. Our story is told with high-level classical ballet, magical sea creature puppets, and a beautiful sound collage of classical music curated by Victoria Koenig to create a magical experience. From the opening scene the audience can almost feel as if they too are gracefully floating under the sea with the sea life, and the shipwreck scene with its unique aerial sequence creates a very intense moment of drama,” exclaims IPB Executive Director, Zaylin Cano. “The familiarity of The Little Mermaid story is a plus and it’s great to see the delight in young children who come to see the show, but adults and anyone who has never attended a ballet performance will also enjoy the story in a new way, through the music and movement of dance.”
Over the years, Koenig and Myers built Inland Pacific Ballet into one of the premiere companies in the Inland Empire area. In addition to The Little Mermaid, the company’s repertoire includes such classics as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Les Sylphides, Graduation Ball and Swan Lake Act II. Full length classical masterpieces include Giselle, Coppélia and a lavish production of The Nutcracker. Contemporary classics include masterpieces by the legendary George Balanchine including Serenade, Concerto Barocco, Who Cares?, and a growing body of original creative adaptations of much-loved stories such as Cinderella, Dracula, and Beauty and the Beast.
Regional touring has included the Luckman Fine Arts Complex in Los Angeles, the Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks, the Annenberg Theater in Palm Desert, the Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, and the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro. In 2009 the Company embarked on its first national tour, performing at the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts in Amarillo, Texas.
The Little Mermaid will perform on Saturday, April 29 at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.; and Sunday, April 30 at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., at Lewis Family Playhouse, Rancho Cucamonga. Tickets range from $32 – $73 with senior/child/group rates available. For reservations and information, please visit IPBALLET.org.
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WHAT: Inland Pacific Ballet present The Little Mermaid with original Choreography by Eric Skinner, Daniel Kirk; Additional Choreography by Jonathan Sharp; Music by Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Benjamin Britten, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Anton Dvorak, Leos Janacek; Sound Design by Scott Frasier; Puppet Design by Jesse Mooney-Bullock, MoonBull Studio; Lighting Design by Stephen Yarbrough; Libretto by Daniel Kirk; Scenic Design by Nancy Seruto; and Costume Design by Craig Shepard and Jeanne Nolden.
WHERE: Lewis Family Playhouse, 12505 Cultural Center Drive, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739.
WHEN: Saturday, April 29, 2023 at 11:30 a.m. & 4 p.m. and Sunday, April 30, 2023 at 11:30 a.m. & 4 p.m.
TICKET Prices: $32 Child (12 & under); $59 Seniors; $62 Adults; $73 Premium Seats (all ages).
Written and compiled by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle from the press release by Susan Gordon.
Featured image: Inland Pacific Ballet’s “The Little Mermaid” – Photo ©2004 E.Y. YanagiYanagi