Columbia City Ballet is just days away from what promises to be an awe-inspiring collaboration with the South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra. The two regional artistic power-houses are joining together for a day of epic performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Koger Center.
Based on Shakespeare’s romantic comedy from the 1590s, the ballet is a captivating adaptation on a classic play, featuring emotive dancing and an incredible score from a live orchestra.
“The ballet version is a little different, because we focus mainly on the fairies, so it’s more of the story that happens between the lovers and the fairies,” said Colin Jacob, who plays the role of the amusingly mischievous Puck, a jester and fairy. “It is a love story, but it is a romantic comedy. It is basically my character’s fault that everything kind of gets messed up. Certain characters are supposed to fall in love with other characters, but I make them fall in love with other people.”
Jacob is a ballet dancer of seven years who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, and relocated to Columbia to join the Columbia City Ballet. In an exclusive interview with Midlands Anchor, he referred to the past several weeks of rehearsals as “challenging” but enjoyable. Being a ballet dancer is a full-time job for Jacob, who rehearses six days a week with his fellow dancers.
For Columbia City Ballet’s artistic director and executive director William Starrett, A Midsummer Night’s Dream has actually been in the works for three years. According to Starrett, his ballet company has partnered with the Philharmonic orchestra to create a five-year plan for collaboration on one major production each spring. Starrett gave an in-depth interview to Midlands Anchor, explaining the costs of putting on such a magnificent production each and the passionate work he has dedicated to finding the funding to make richly artistic events like A Midsummer Night’s Dream happen.
Starrett promises an enthralling experience for viewers that combines moving, beautiful live orchestral music, incredible strength and athleticism of well-trained dancers, and hysterical, enjoyable writing and choreography. He says much of the comedy is pantomimed through dance, resulting in a fun “slapstick” element that balances out the sophistication and elegance of the production. Starrett and Jacob both explained that ballet and music make a classic English tale more accessible for a modern audience.
“Sometimes when you’re hearing the Shakespearean English, you can’t quite understand what they’re saying, or it might be so fancy it turns you off,” said Starrett. “But what’s great about the dance is you generally know the story, but you can take your own journey, you can take your own path to understanding it.”
There are two performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream happening this Saturday, Jan. 27. The 3 p.m. performance will be preceded by a fairy tea party at 1 p.m., and the second performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are still available and run as low as $20. Starrett explained the low ticket prices were to encourage more people in Columbia to enjoy the arts.
“We try to make it as funny as possible,” said Jacob. “I think it’s very fun that you get to see so many characters develop through the show…I think you get a lot of comedy and love in a very quick fashion….you get to hear the beautiful music and see all the hard work the dancers have put in.”
For more information, visit the Columbia City Ballet’s event calendar.