Cullman Civic Ballet’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ this Saturday at Heritage Park

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Brooke Desnoes demonstrates as members of the “Midsummer Night’s Dream” troupe look on. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – In addition to community theater and a community band, Cullman is now home to its own ballet company. Cullman Civic Ballet, a joint venture between ballet instructor Brooke Desnoes and Cullman Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism (CPRST), will premier this Saturday evening with a free performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Recognition Garden at Heritage Park.

Desnoes told The Tribune, “I had this idea that I would like to just maybe do something that would bring the community together for the spring, so I had the idea of doing ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ just because it’s such a fun, relaxed ballet- story, but we’re doing the ballet version. We advertised that with Parks and Rec and we had a really big turnout for the first time. We originally were about 20 dancers, but after COVID, we’re down to about 16. They came from not only Cullman County, but Morgan County, Jefferson County, Blount County. On Saturdays, we had dancers coming in from many different schools, and so I said to the Parks and Rec, ‘You know, this is really a civic commitment. It’s not just a school ballet; it’s many schools coming together to work together towards something. We had the idea of calling it Cullman Civic Ballet. It seems to be something that we can pursue in the future.”

Cullman Civic Ballet was not an intentionally created program for Desnoes or CPRST. According to Desnoes, “It just kind of happened; it wasn’t really planned. It just kind of seemed to be filling a need for a lot of people, so it just kind of developed.”

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was originally scheduled as a spring show, but, as with many things, circumstances forced both a delay and a new approach.

Said Desnoes, “We were supposed to be doing it in Grace Community Church and the performance was originally for April, so that was right in the middle of the shutdown. I had the idea of taking it to the park, so we could all social distance: the audience can social distance, we can social distance. I kind of loved that idea, so I hope that we’re able to do ballet in the park every year, maybe. Maybe we can even go to other parks!”

The troupe had been rehearsing for six weeks and was about two weeks from performance readiness when the COVID-19 shutdown began. Knowing that things were being put on hold, Desnoes had the troupe’s last spring rehearsal video recorded, so her students could watch and continue to practice at home.

Desnoes said, “We’ve only been back together for two weeks, and I must say, at the end of the first week, they did an amazing job. Everything’s learned, everything’s set. We’ll have a dress rehearsal, we’ll have a stage rehearsal, and then I guess the audience will tell us what they think. But I’m feeling confident and really proud of all the dancers.”

Ballerina Morgan Lane, who travels in from Falkville to rehearse, was happy to see the show back on, telling the Tribune, “I am excited about ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ because we actually get to perform a performance, even during all of this craziness happening, and it’s outdoors and it’s midsummer. I’m very excited and proud of Ms. Brooke for putting it together. She’s awesome!”

Lily Howze was especially taken with the costuming for the show at a recent fitting, saying, “I haven’t been to a dress rehearsal, but finding all the costumes was really fun.”

Howze said that she was challenged by “Trying to keep up with all of the variations during the quarantine, trying to remember your part.”

Even though the last rehearsal was recorded, the dancers faced the task of reorganizing their presentation for an outside stage, and for social distancing among themselves on that stage.

Some things actually got easier, though. Howze’s sister Annabelle Howze, the show’s technical director, found her assignment list pared down substantially. 

She noted, “There’s no lighting, there’s no microphones, so all we’re going to have to do is play some music. All I should have to do is hit a button!”

Check back with The Tribune for pictures from the troupe’s first dress rehearsal Tuesday, June 2.

At a glance

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

The inaugural performance of Cullman Civic Ballet

Saturday, June 6, 2020 at 6 p.m.

Recognition Garden at Heritage Park

Free to the public

Guests are encouraged to bring blankets, lawn chairs, etc.

For more information, call 256-734-9157 or email info@cprst.org

 

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com