There was once a little princess whose father was king over a great country full of mountains and valleys. – George MacDonald
A heroine’s quest to save her sisters from goblins comes to life through the choreography of the legendary Twyla Tharp as Atlanta Ballet brings The Princess and the Goblin to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre from April 15-17.
Created in 2012 for both Atlanta Ballet and Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, The Princess and the Goblin takes its inspiration from George MacDonald’s 19th-century fantasy story of the same name.
“Princess Irene is the oldest daughter of a mostly absent father,” explains Alessa Rogers, who is performing the part. “When her two younger sisters and other children of the kingdom are kidnapped and taken to the underworld, Irene must find the strength within herself to rescue them. She is aided along the way by her friend Curdie and by a mysterious presence.”
No stranger to the role, Rogers performed as Princess Irene in Atlanta Ballet’s 2012 production. Originally cast as the understudy, she was put into the part right before a studio performance. “That was my first lead role ever and I will always have a soft spot for it,” says Rogers. “It’s wonderful to revisit it now after 5 years. I recognize the ways in which I’ve grown and changed as a dancer since its premiere. A lot of opportunities sprang from this ballet. It’s been a crazy, surreal ride but The Princess and the Goblin gave me so much. I will always be grateful for the experience and for Twyla for believing I could be a princess.”
John Welker will also revisit a role he performed in 2012–Princess Irene’s father, King Papa. “His self-centered ways inadvertently lead to the abduction of his daughters,” Welker explains. “He then goes on a desperate search to find them. They, however, are saved by a young man named Curdie, whom he dismissed earlier in the story as a lowlife. Through the innocence of his children and the grace of Curdie, King Papa experiences a transformation and realizes the beauty of family and life.”
Welker especially identifies with King Papa because of his real-life role as a parent. “I enjoy and relate to this character due to my experience of being a father to a frustrating and very adorable three year old,” he says. “Through my son’s eyes I get to experience being a child again, along with all the joy and wonder life holds.”
The cast of The Princess and the Goblin includes 13 students from the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education. Tharp explained to The New York Times in 2012, “My mission was to find movement [for the young performers], which they could really do that was not something they were straining to reach at […] But that would not just be running and skipping and hopping and chaos. First thing I did was to get them out of their ballet shoes and put them in street shoes. Next thing was: ‘Girls, get your hair out of the buns. Now let’s be who you are, and let’s figure out how you move.’ ”
Twyla Tharp’s The Princess and the Goblin is set to compositions by Franz Schubert arranged and orchestrated by Schubert scholar Richard Burke, as well as original music by Burke. The score will be performed live by the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra.
Tickets start at $25. Purchase here or call 800-982-2787.
From Atlanta Ballet’s website:
“Run time is approximately 1 hour and 24 minutes. This program is performed without an intermission.”