By Theresa Goffredo Herald Writer
Madison Otto is a 16-year-old with talent and a lot of modesty.
When asked what scene kids might enjoy most in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Hansel &Gretel,” Madison didn’t hesitate to say the one where the witch appears.
That happens not to be the scene that Madison is dancing in.
“It’s one of the best scenes, when the witch comes out,” Madison said.
Part of the entertainment in that scene is the witch herself, who happens to be former PNB principal dancer Ariana Lallone.
Pacific Northwest Ballet is presenting this family-friendly version of “Hansel &Gretel,” to help introduce children to ballet. The ballet is performed as an hourlong matinee and is narrated.
Like PNB’s other Family Matinee productions, this ballet features about 60 students from Pacific Northwest Ballet School.
Madison is one of those dancers. She is a junior at Bothell High School and although she has been dancing since she was 3, this will be her first time dancing on stage as a PNB student.
But she’s prepared.
Madison has been at the PNB school for a year. Before that, she performed in competitions and recitals and was on the national stage in front of 1,000 people.
For “Hansel &Gretel,” Madison is performing as a moonbeam in the dream sequence when Hansel falls asleep after being lost in the woods.
“There’s about 20 of us on stage and there are some pretty intricate movements and it’s really hard,” Madison said in a phone interview.
One tricky part of the dance routine has been that there are trees the dancers have to position themselves behind and move when they need to be moved. During rehearsals, sometimes the trees fall. But Madison said there will be weights on the trees during the real performance so that shouldn’t happen.
Based on the classic fairy tale, this ballet tells the story of Hansel and Gretel, two children lost in the forest who get hungry before discovering a house made of sweets. They are welcomed by the owner of the house, a witch, who turns out to be not so sweet.
The production is timed for children and was created by choreographer Bruce Wells, who has created more than 50 ballets for such companies as the Dance Theater of Harlem, Atlanta Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet Chicago and Oregon Ballet Theater.
For the past 16 years, Wells has been on the faculty of Pacific Northwest Ballet School and created three children’s ballets for the school: “Snow White,” “Hansel &Gretel” and “Pinocchio.”
Madison said she is looking forward to presenting the show to children.
“All the little kids get to watch us perform, to see what they would get to do when they advance to the higher levels and it’s fun for us to be a role model for them,” Madison said.
“It’s a live enactment of Hansel and Gretel and it will be a fun show for all age groups.”
“Hansel &Gretel” has four performances, at noon and 3:30 p.m. Sunday; 10:30 a.m. March 22 and 3:30 p.m. March 23 at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle.
Tickets are $25 to $67 general and $22 to $60 for children 12 and under. Call 206-441-2424 or go to www.pnb.org. Tickets are also sold 90 minutes before each performance if they are still available.
Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; firstname.lastname@example.org