How to catch a Firebird on an enchanting night out

| January 17, 2014 | 0 Comments
Laura Bosenberg as The Firebird.

Cape Town City Ballet’s Laura Bosenberg as The Firebird. Photo by Pat Bromilow Downing.

How to catch a Firebird? For a start you’ll need an enchanted garden, some moonlight and of course, this magical creature’s only ever been spotted with the sounds of Stravinsky. Well, considering she’s half-woman, half-bird, you didn’t think this would be a walk in the park did you?

Except that this time it is.

Cape Town City Ballet is weaving its magic through the scenic gardens of Maynardville Park to bring The Firebird to life at the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre, giving you the perfect sylvan setting to catch it (at least with your eyes) every Sunday from 19 January until 16 February 2014.

As 2014 marks the 80th anniversary year for Cape Town City Ballet, the company is flying into celebration mode with The Firebird, followed by another moonlit ballet, Les Sylphides, with both these enchanting and ethereal ballets performed back-to-back in the ideal setting of Cape Town’s Maynardville Park.

Both ballets were first staged by Russian choreographer Michel Fokine, but have been reworked here by David Poole. Here’s a brief background into the stories and mythical beings you’ll encounter in these ballets:

The Firebird and Kashchei the Immortal

Xola Putye as Prince Ivan shows us how it's done as he catches his Firebird (Kim Vieira).

Prince Ivan (Xola Putye) shows us how it’s done as he catches his Firebird (Kim Vieira). Photo by Michael Groenewald.

According to Russian folk tales, Kashchei the Immortal is an evil sorcerer who can cast a spell on those caught in his realm. Under this spell, he holds a group of 13 young royal princesses captive in a mystical garden.

Meanwhile, the hero of the story, young Prince Ivan, enters the villain’s domain and captures a magical Firebird. She begs him to release her in exchange for one of her magical feathers and the promise that the feather can be used to summon her aid at any time.

Ivan encounters the group of maidens one evening and as he watches them play in the moonlight he falls in love with Tsarevna, one of the princesses. But in pursuit of his love, the prince is waylaid by a horde of demons under Kashchei’s spell. Ivan remembers the feather, and the Firebird arrives to rescue him and end the tyranny of Kashchei.

The ballet ends with a wedding scene where the Firebird blesses the marriage of the prince and princess. The roles of the Firebird and Prince will be danced by Kim Vieira (debut) partnering with Xola Putye; Laura Bosenberg with Thomas Thorne (debut); and Mami Fuji (debut) with Ivan Boonzaaier (debut).

Les Sylphides and poetry in motion

Laura Bosenberg and the sylphs in the romantic ballet of Les Sylphides.

Laura Bosenberg and the sylphs in Les Sylphides. Photo by Pat Bromilow Downing.

Described as a “romantic reverie”, Les Sylphides is a short ballet and one of the first ballets to not have a specific story-line or plot, but instead is considered a tribute to the romantic ballets and consists of many ballerinas in long white tutus as ethereal sylphs (mythological spirits of the air) dancing in the moonlight with a poet.

Set to Chopin’s serene music, this beautiful ballet has seen various versions, even by the original choreographer Fokine himself, but the Maynardville audiences will see the graceful ballet produced by Cecily Robinson for the CAPAB Ballet Company. For this production the lead partnerships will be Laura Bosenberg, dancing with Thomas Thorne, and Angela Hansford partnering with Daniel Szybkowski – who debuts in the role of the Poet.

For a dreamy and fascinating insight into Les Sylphides, watch this video (possibly filmed in the 1950’s) of Tamara Karsavina as she talks of performing with Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky, and she discusses the role of the corps de ballet and the necessary ethereal expression of the port de bras.

Booking details:

The Firebird and Les Sylphides
Dates: Every Sunday at 8:15pm from 19 January to 16 February 2014
Venue: Maynardville Open-Air Theatre, Cape Town
Tickets: R110, R120 or R130 through or via Artscape Dial-a-Seat on 021 421 7695.

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Category: Dance News

About the Author ()

Hi, I'm Robynn, and I'm a student of the potential of the body, the marvels of the mind, and the beauty of it all combined in ballet. As the editor, BodyMindBallet is where I get to learn, to share and to enjoy this wide world of dance - and with every day I gain an ever richer respect for the athleticism of dance and the skill of performance artistry.

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