From Choreographer Michael McGowan
I have always been a huge fan of Allegra Kent, and the idea of turning her book Ballerina Swan into a live ballet seemed a thrilling opportunity. The story of Sophie, and her own dreams of becoming a dancer, completely resonated with me. I was five years old when I took my first dance class at my mother’s dance studio in a small town in West Virginia. I was, for many years, the only boy in every class that I took. There was no one who looked or moved like me and I felt as out of place as Sophie did when she jumped through the window into Madame Myrtle’s ballet class. But eventually, like Sophie, this language of dance, this world of dance, became my safest home; it was a place where I too could spread my wings. And so having the opportunity to help bring Sophie and Ballerina Swan to the stage with New York City Children’s Theater is a way of coming full circle; telling the story of someone who yearns to dance above all else, and for whom the world of dance becomes a haven. I’ve been very privileged in my life to follow my dreams, and I’m delighted when I can tell a story on stage like this – one where dance is the medium, and the message.
Meet Sophie – a Central Park swan with dreams of becoming a ballerina and performing in Swan Lake. Sophie learns that with hard work and determination – achieving your dreams is possible.
The first production of Ballerina Swan was based on the children’s book by former NYC Ballet prima ballerina Allegra Kent with illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Emily Arnold McCully. Written by Barbara Zinn Krieger, the show features choreography by Michael McGowan, puppets and sets by Phantom Limb Company. Ballerina Swan blended dance, theater and puppetry with results that will astounded the audience so much, the show returned in 2015!
From Writer Barbara Zinn Krieger
When I was seven years old, my mother enrolled me in a ballet class. I was kind of gawky, and even though I wanted desperately to do well, I felt as if I had webbed feet! That was a long time ago, but I still remember trying and trying and eventually the joy of being able to spin and turn and jump high in the air.
Last year, my friend Emily Arnold McCully showed me her beautiful illustrations for Allegra Kent’s inspiring story Ballerina Swan. I fell in love with Sophie the swan, and wanted very much for New York City Children’s Theater (formerly Making Books Sing) to bring her to life onstage. With the expert collaboration of our brilliant choreographer Michael McGowan, we have. Ballerina Swan is a bunch of firsts for New York City Children’s Theater (formerly Making Books Sing). It’s both our first dance/theater performance and the first time we are telling the story of someone who isn’t nor has ever been a child. Or is she? Sophie may be a swan, but her passion, curiosity and drive make her a character that both kids and adults can identify with and root for. I hope you enjoy our production and that it inspires you to follow your own dreams.