Ballet Academy of Charleston premieres “The Fairy Doll” at the Charleston Music Hall on Friday, April 26, 2019. (10:30am for local schools, 6pm for the general public)
50 dancers, ages 3-17 perform in the many various roles that bring the story to life. With beautiful costumes and interesting stage sets, this family-friendly ballet is sure to excite young and old.
Tickets can be ordered here
A Brief History of “The Fairy Doll”
“The Fairy Doll”, (or “Die Puppenfee” as it is classically known), once deemed a lost ballet, first premiered at the Leichtenstein Palace in Vienna in 1888 as “Im Puppenladen” (The Doll Store). Inspired by a ballet she’d seen in Paris, the Austro-Hungarian Princess Pauline Clémentine von Metternich commissioned a “small ballet” for a palace benefit be created by Vienna Court Opera’s Ballet Master, Joesf Hassreiter and Musical Director, Josef Bayer. Originally set on a cast of amateur aristocrats, this simple, yet enthralling ballet had immediate appeal and was soon refashioned for the professional dancers of the Vienna Court Opera.
After being reconfigured and performed numerous times throughout Europe, fervor for the ballet died out and it became forgotten. Perhaps popularity for this whimsical gem waned because it was not lengthy enough for the typical theatergoer of the time, or perhaps because it was lacking the key element most ballets of that age possessed: a heroine. Leave it to famed early 20th century ballerina Anna Pavlova herself to revive the ballet and insert a lead role, one she would make famous.
In truth, the character of the Fairy Doll was not created by Pavlova, but it was she who added to the bulk of her dancing, supplementing it by using music from Drigo’s ‘Harlequinade’ and the famous ‘serenade pas de trios’. Pavlova toured throughout the world in the 1920’s performing these excerpts with her troupe making it renowned with her name. Although again lost after Pavlova’s retiring the role, it has been faithfully preserved through video documentation and, appropriately, was adopted by and is performed routinely by The Vaganova Academy, the prestigious progeny of The Imperial Ballet School which shaped Pavlova’s early dancing.
Although having a somewhat complicated background, “The Fairy Doll” has maintained an innocent purity and child-like optimism that is both refreshing and delightful. As its beginning was graced with charitable benevolence and performed by non-professionals, and as it is a permanent part of the Vaganova Academy’s repertoire, we think it is most fitting that it now be added to our school’s repertory.
“The Fairy Doll” Synopsis
In the charming tale of “The Fairy Doll”, a toyshop is the setting. The curtain opens on the proprietor and his assistant entering the shop. They are soon visited by various townspeople, including a poor farming couple and a wealthy aristocratic family. The proprietor shows the families the various dolls of his shop. Amongst them are: a Spanish doll, an Austrian doll, a Harlequin doll, a Broken doll as well as the lovely Fairy Doll. The wealthy aristocratic family is immediately enraptured with the Fairy Doll, and they make an order to buy her. The poor farming family purchase a Harlequin doll and the Austrian doll. They each make arrangements to have the dolls delivered the following day and leave the shop as it is closing for the night.
At the strike of midnight, the shop proves to be enchanted as all the dolls come to life and begin to dance! The Fairy Doll, as the queen of the dolls, begins the dancing as all the other dolls join in. After her solo, the dolls of the shop encircle the Fairy Doll, dancing around her.
Suddenly, being disturbed by the noise, the proprietor now enters to find the dolls again lifeless but out of place. The curtain lowers with the bewildered shopkeeper looking on at the tableau of dolls surrounding their queen, the Fairy Doll.