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August 8, 2022

Monterey County Dance Theatre’s ‘La Sylphide’ opens this weekend

Fairies, witches and magic come to stage in timeless story

SALINAS VALLEY — Monterey County Dance Theatre will host its spring show, “La Sylphide,” this weekend at the Robert Stanton Theater in King City.

The local performance is a debut within Monterey County.

“‘La Sylphide’ is the oldest classical romantic ballet in classical dance history,” MCDT Director Janette Harkness said. “It is a timeless story, 190 years old.”

The plot of “La Sylphide” involves fairies, a witch and a hero and heroine. Harkness said the story comes from the romantic period, when ballets took on long stories usually infused with supernatural elements.

She explained that the story is about choice, but because of the love and magic, it is more suitable for older children. The youngest performers in the show will be 8 years old.

“I’ve been wanting to do the ballet for a long time because you need to have the right age group to be able to put on this mature ballet,” Harkness said. “It’s a little deep for the young ones to understand.”

The ballet is set in the Scottish Highlands and tells the story of a farmer named James, who is engaged to a woman named Effie. A fairy enters the scene on the day of their wedding and becomes enraptured with James. Harkness said handkerchiefs are highly recommended.

Three nights of performances will include three main casts, which Harkness said was due to the intensity of the dance moves. The triple casting also allowed for rehearsal adaptation in the event of Covid interruptions, and gave more dancers a chance at taking on lead roles. 

A total cast of 50 performers from South Monterey County will take part in the weekend of dance.

Performing the role of Sylph are Olivia Garcia on Friday, Kali Jimenez on Saturday and Chloe Arriaga on Sunday. Madge the Witch will be performed by Kelly Tate on Friday, Natalyse Solomon on Saturday and Daisy Picazo on Sunday.

In the role of Effie will be Rachel Garcia on Friday, Carlie Johnson on Saturday and Sheccid Salas on Sunday. James will be played by Gideon Brown, and his best man Gurn will be played by his brother Shadrach Brown.

Harkness said “La Sylphide” is currently being staged at the San Francisco Ballet and has only been staged an estimated five times in California. That rarity was one reason to go see it, she noted.

The dancing itself is more intense, with movements reflecting fairies, and Harkness said the production’s challenging footwork has a connection to the implementation of point shoes in ballet. The setting will also be reflected with live bagpipe performance, as well as traditional kilts obtained from Edinburgh, Scotland.

Tickets will be available at the door. The March 18 and 19 performances begin at 7 p.m., and the March 20 show begins at 2 p.m. Proceeds will go toward the Monterey County Dance Foundation, which assists MCDT dancers with performance fees and scholarships. 

The Foundation will also host an outdoor fair outside the doors an hour before each performance.

Foundation President Teri Storelli said in addition to the trinkets and food available for purchase at the fair, there would also be an opportunity for individuals and businesses to sponsor the upcoming “Nutcracker” mural.

Sean Roney
Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.
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