The students of the Ballet Bras d’Or school are getting ready to revisit a beloved production, based on the celebrated novella The Little Prince. Previously performed in 2005, the show is a multimedia interpretation of French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s famous literary work.
The recital will be staged at Strathspey Place in Mabou, Saturday May 8. Showtime is 7pm, with a $12 admission at the door.
The school director, Diane Lambie, describes the Ballet Bras d’Or as a “traveling” school. “Because we are rural, it is very difficult to establish a school in a single location,” explained Lambie. Since 2001, the French-born dance instructor has brought her on-the-road workshops and lessons to a following of students throughout Cape Breton’s rural Inverness and Victoria Counties.
Nine years later, the school has trained a roster of dancers in communities including Cheticamp, Inverness, Whycocomagh, and Port Hawkesbury.
In bringing the celebrated work of literature to life, The Little Prince’s choreography and music are intertwined with live voice narration and a backdrop of moving slides. “Even though it’s a ballet, the literary aspects remain,” said Lambie. Many of the visuals are created with the book’s illustrations, interspersed with images handpicked to convey different aspects of the plot. “Parts of the story have the prince traveling through space, so we chose real photographs of stars and galaxies to convey that part of the plot.”
The ages of the dancers in the production ranges from 4 to 40 years of age, with the show’s principal performers representing some of Bras d’Or Ballet’s seasoned veteran dancers. Jessie Watson, one of Lambie’s experienced students, will perform as the title character, revisiting the same role she played in the school’s 2005 production. For Lambie, watching her students develop over years of instruction and become skilled dancers in their own right is immensely rewarding, and notes Watson as one example.
“Jessie has become a very accomplished dancer,” Lambie noted with pride.
Since its publication in 1943, the story of The Little Prince has been translated into several languages and different artistic mediums. Lambie’s stage version was composed and choreographed in 1981, and directed in five different productions since. Lambie admitted a personal affection for Saint-Exupéry’s classic book. “I myself am French and grew up with that story. It’s a beautiful story, a real classic.”
“We try to do stories that have real value and a good message for children and adults alike.”