‘Frozen Heart’ performances set for March 25-26
Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet, under the direction of Jennifer Beasley, presents the full-length ballet “Frozen Heart” next weekend at Jackson Academy Performing Arts Center.
Based on “The Snow Queen” fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen and set to a classic score by Hugo Alfven, the ballet features nearly 100 local dancers who are members of the ballet company and guest artists from Ballet Memphis and Manassas Ballet Theatre.
Commissioned by MMB in 2015 and premiered to sold-out audiences in 2016, “Frozen Heart'' was choreographed by Kristy Nilsson. The company prepared the ballet for performance in spring 2020, but the production was canceled due to the pandemic. Houston-based Nilsson is a former professional dancer with the Atlanta Ballet, and her choreography has earned awards from Regional Dance America, the Southeast Regional Ballet Association, and Dance Canvas.
Nilsson’s version of the classic fairytale follows Snow Queen Elsandra as her heart is frozen by the evil Troll King. Her younger sister, Princess Gerda, and the sister’s handsome new love, Kai, venture into the frozen kingdom to melt the Snow Queen’s heart and free her from her icy prison. “Kristy’s own concepts are melded with Andersen’s original tale to tell a unique story through innovative choreography. Audiences may recognize a few elements from the animated movie “Frozen” as well,” says artistic director Beasley. “The intricate and sophisticated choreography is sure to please both young fairytale fans and serious ballet-goers alike.”
Filled with captivating images of the ice palace, the ballet has roles for sleigh-drawing reindeer, ice skaters on the frozen pond, and the Snow Queen’s stoic ice maidens. Rebecca Trowbridge of Madison will dance the role of Princess Gerda, the Snow Queen’s younger sister. Trowbridge is a soloist with MMB. Dancing the role of the Snow Queen Elsandra is MMB principal dancer Brelyn Binkley of Brandon.
Binkley, who is a senior at Northwest Rankin High School, has been dancing with Mississippi Metropolitan since she was three. “MMB has been my second home since I can remember, and we are like one huge family. Rebecca and I definitely have fun performing our roles of sisters in the ballet.” Binkley values the cooperation and coordination required of the dancers in bringing an MMB performance to the stage. She credits Beasley and artistic associate Crystal Skelton with shaping the dancers into the best they can be. “I can't wait to see how the show comes together, and I can't wait to be on stage performing with my best friends.”
Nurlan Kinerbayev from Taraz, Kazakhstan, will dance the role of Kai. He received his training from Almaty Choreographic College and University Bolashak. He has danced with State Academic Opera & Ballet Theatre, Samara Academic Opera & Ballet Theatre, Moscow City Ballet, and the Russian National Ballet. This is Kinerbayev’s first season with Manassas Ballet Theatre in Manassas, Virginia.
The Troll King will be danced by guest artist Oscar Fernandez of Ballet Memphis. Fernandez is a favorite of MMB audiences, having danced guest roles in “The Nutcracker” and many MMB spring productions including “Alice in Wonderland” and “Cinderella.” He is from the village of Santillana de Mar of the state of Cantabria, in the North of Spain. He trained in classical, contemporary and Flamenco dance at the Real Conservatorie of Dance Mariemma in Madrid before joining San Francisco Ballet School on scholarship. He joined Ballet San Jose as corps member in 2014 where he performed in George Balanchine's “Theme and Variations,” Ben Stevenson’s “Cinderella” and Ohad Naharin's “Minus 16” among others.
MMB soloists appearing in the production include Eleanora Ellis of Flowood, who will dance the role of Royal Herald. Jack Frost will be danced by soloist Hart Maley of Jackson. Senior company members from Madison County include Avery Shiflett, Mary Emerson Swindell, Grace Gardner, Emily Garner, Sophia Huang and Amelia McCaughan. Joley Cox, Caroline Ellis, and Annalyse Binkley are senior company members from Rankin County.
A Royal Reception and Promenade in celebration of “Frozen Heart'' will follow each matinee performance. Young royalty are invited for light refreshments before journeying through the winter forest to the Snow Queen’s enchanted Ice Palace. Along the promenade royal guests will encounter photo and souvenir stops featuring the cast members from “Frozen Heart.”
“Frozen Heart” performance tickets are $30-$35. Royal Reception and Promenade tickets are $15 and are sold separately. Accompanying adults receive complimentary admission to the Royal Reception and Promenade. For tickets and more information, visit www.msmetroballet.tix.com or call 601-853-4508.