Preview: Peter Pan
The story of the boy who never grew up will never get old
Posted: January 16, 2013
It took a century to bring this classic to Prague, but the results are definitely worth the wait.
Bohemia Ballet, the ensemble made up exclusively of Prague Dance Conservatory students and graduates, introduces the premiere of its Peter Pan, choreographed by the French artist Bérangère Andréo. The beautiful new dance performance presents the well-known tale of the boy who never grew up, the little girl Wendy who is afraid of falling asleep and their adventurous journey through the radiant sky. The project was designed primarily for young audiences and offers a great family outing.
Peter Pan, a character created by the Scottish novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie, first appeared in a section of The Little White Bird, a 1902 novel written for adults. Peter Pan's best-known adventure began two years later in the stage play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. The play was adapted and expanded somewhat into a novel, published in 1911 as Peter and Wendy. Just in London the play was reprised some 10,000 times in its first 50 years. The boy who can fly and who never ages has also appeared in a number of adaptations such as the 1953 Disney animated film, stage musicals and live-action features. Though the legend is immortal for millions of children and adults worldwide, Peter Pan has not been well-known all that long in the Czech Republic. The book was published for the first time in the middle of 1920s, and a second edition did not appear until 1997. However, Peter Pan's beautiful story has become a favorite for many Czech children. Now, for the first time, it will come to the stage of the Estates Theater as a ballet adaptation.
"The impulse to create this performance was an offer that came from the National Theater Ballet management: to create a joint project, a family-type performance," Jaroslav Slavický, the artistic director of Bohemia Ballet and the director of the Prague Dance Conservatory, writes in an e-mail. "I spoke to several choreographers, and Bérangère Andréo's proposal of the dance rendition of Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, impressed me the most. The character of Peter Pan has been depicted in many film adaptations and musicals; however, no ballet performance has been created yet. That was one of the reasons why we decided on this title."
Many of the performers are quite young themselves. They are part of a tradition that began when the Prague Dance Conservatory was founded in 1945. As the curriculum developed, public performances became an integral part of conservatory studies. Over time, the repertoire and performance schedule became so extensive that, in 2005, a permanent company was established featuring an ever-changing ensemble of conservatory-affiliated dancers: Bohemia Ballet.
When: Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 7
Where: Estates Theater
Tickets: 50-270 Kč, available through Ticketportal or at the venue
Students aged 12 to 19 will perform in Peter Pan. The fourth-year conservatory students Kristián Pokorný and Patrik Koller will dance the title role. The graduate Sára Halušková and seventh-year student Anna Knollová will dance as Wendy.
Bohemia Ballet cooperates with young as well as established Czech and foreign choreographers, but the decision to invite the one from France was simple. "I know the creations of Andréo very well because Bohemia Ballet has cooperated with her for some time already," Slavický writes. "We worked together for the first time in 2005, then in 2007, when she created several chamber choreographies for our company (Concert de lis, Délivrance d'une double identité, Istampita, Les Aquarelles etc.) and, in 2012, a very successful piece titled Lunedda, which won first prize for choreography in the national competition of contemporary Czech dance creation."
The music was written by James Newton Howard, an American pianist and arranger who is today one of the most popular and respected composers for cinema and originally did this Peter Pan for the screen in 2003.
"For the stage design we have discovered beautiful images by Miloš Koutecký," Slavický writes. "He paints on velvet the images of space objects as they are seen by Hubble's telescope. They are ideal for creating the surreal Neverland where Peter Pan's stories take place. We transformed these images into computer animation and slides and thus a truly original stage design arose. The young and very talented artist Renata Nováková created costumes for the production. In some aspects they respect the customary visual perception of the characters, but basically she also created an entirely original approach."
The result of all this work is pure stage magic. Peter Pan is a beautiful new production that will please young and old alike.
Johana Mücková can be reached at
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