Cullman arts fans enjoy ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ with Cullman Civic Ballet

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Members of Cullman Civic Ballet greet the audience at the conclusion of their inaugural performance Saturday evening at Heritage Park. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The recently formed Cullman Civic Ballet (CCB), under the direction of Brooke Desnoes and with the help of Cullman Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism (CPRST), gave its first performance Saturday evening at Heritage Park. Both organizations were pleased with the crowd that turned out on a warm early summer evening for CCB’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

CCB described its take on the classic play:

Our adaptation of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream strips the literary original of extraneous characters and plot, focusing exclusively on Titania’s bower. The action of the single act is set in a moonlit forest, one Midsummer Eve. Puck has in his possession the flower pierced by Cupid’s arrow, which when sprinkled on a person causes them to fall asleep and to fall in love with the first creature he or she sees upon waking. Puck cast the flower’s spell over an unknowing Titania who ends up falling in love with the rustic weaver Bottom, whom the mischievous Puck has already turned into a Donkey. In the end Puck puts order into the disorder and sweeps away the remnants of the night’s doings. Sylph-like fairies twinkle in the night and reclaim the forest.

Before the show, CPRST Executive Director Zac Wood told The Tribune, “It’s really exciting. There’s a lot of people here, a lot of folks. (It’s) a nice June evening to see the kids perform ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ I think it’s really cool- a little culture.”

Wood said he had hoped to hold the performance at Art Park on Main Avenue, but the venue is still undergoing renovation. He said Art Park will host events like this in the future, and he looks forward to seeing more of CCB.

CPRST’s Kelly Pulliam added, “The girls have rehearsed a little bit on the stage this afternoon, and they’ve got their costumes on, and makeup, and they all look adorable. We’re all excited; we’re very excited!”

Desnoes, whose own dream was coming true as she watched her students prepare to take the stage after two months of COVID-19 delays, told The Tribune about the dancers, “I think they’re super excited, but they’re such a nice group of kids, and they really know what they’re doing. I think as long as they know what they’re doing- of course, they’re always going to have butterflies in their stomachs- but they really know what they’re doing up there, so they’re ready to go out there and do it. 

“They’re a group of kids who really came together to perform, so that means they must really like to perform. I mean they didn’t have to do this, so I think they’re really performers.”

The performance went smoothly and drew an enthusiastic response from the audience.

Noted local artist and arts supporter Ben South attended and reflected afterward on the whole experience: “I thought it was sumptuous, is one word; like you looked out at what the parks did with this vista that we’re surrounded by, looking out at. The costumes were beautiful; the girls were so disciplined and elegant in their dance. You know, it was everything you’d want in a ballet.

“This was a hot night; I think when we got out here, it was still in the upper 80s maybe, but the shade was cooling, the show was only about 35 minutes- I think is what the ballet was tonight, something like that- and it was just beautiful. It was a good crowd, but I’m sorry there weren’t more people here, because it’s something I’ll remember forever. It was a wonderful moment for Cullman arts. It was the best summer thing I think I’ve ever been to with Cullman arts. It was great.”

After she got a chance to catch her breath at the end of the performance, Desnoes shared, “I always think they do a great job. You know, when you perform, you’re always excited. You always have a tendency to go faster or slower; all of your bad habits come out when you perform. As a professional, that’s difficult. But as a pre-professional, that’s a huge accomplishment when they get all the way through it all and look so graceful, and still enjoy it. The biggest point is they’re up there to enjoy it. It’s a learning experience. Every time they do it, they’ll get better at it. This was the first time they did it together; it was pretty good! It was pretty good, so I’m super happy!”

Cast

  • Titania . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Elizabeth Griffith
  • Fairies . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Eglantine Desnoes, Sidonie Desnoes, Morgan Lane, Chloe McCrorie 
  • Puck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Marianna Willoughby
  • Puck’s Fairies . . . . . . . . . Jazz Davidson, Brooklynn Schlosser
  • Bottom  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Madeline Riggs
  • Villagers . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lily Howze, Caroline Sanders, Tessa Sanders, Brooke Sinyard, Lucie Winton
  • Technical Director . . . . . Annabelle Howze

 

CCB describes itself as “a non-profit pre-professional ballet company that welcomes dancers from across North and Central Alabama. CCB’s mission is to cultivate a deep understanding and true appreciation of dance through the joy of performing for the community. Cullman Civic Ballet gives young dancers a chance to hone their technical and artistic abilities in a highly professional environment. CCB is also a place where young artists can connect and bond with peers who share a similar passion for ballet. Our goal is to inspire and encourage children and young adults to practice their art with respect and rigor. At CCB we offer a dynamic program that positions us as true leaders in dance education. Our goal is to make ballet enjoyable, memorable and accessible to the children of our community. Do not hesitate to contact us for more information.”

Cullman Civic Ballet is a nonprofit division of Cullman Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism. For more information, email brookedesnoes@gmail.com or text 256-338-6401. 

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com