You thought you knew the story of Snow White, but Michael Pink’s new work for the Milwaukee Ballet explores the complex story before Snow White bit the apple. Mirror Mirror premiers May 15 and runs through the 18th at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts (929 N. Water St.). This production is a highly stylized retelling of the Brothers Grimm's classic tale (not the Disney version), complete with couture costumes and ornate sets.
Artistic Director Michael Pink reunites with the creative team from Peter Pan – British composer Philip Feeney and Emmy-Award winning lighting director David Grill, who has lit up both Beyonce and Bruno Mars at the Super Bowl Halftime Show – for this production. Todd Edward Ivins, a regular at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, will design the costumes.
I thought I’d let the Michael Pink tell us in his own words why this is a must-see event.
Girl About Town: Seems like you have the Midas touch when it come to recreating classic tales – is there one you'd like to do next and why?
Michael Pink: I think Beauty and the Beast would be interesting. I have no plans to create it, but there is a lot to explore there. I enjoy the storytelling aspect of creating a piece. I’ve had many tell me that they don’t have a background in dance, but they appreciate my ballets because they get so wrapped up in the story.
GAT: What is the most important element to keep consistent when trying to recreate a classic tale so you don't disappoint fans of the original version?
MP: The only important element is to be true to the original telling of the story. When I say the original telling, I really do mean the original version, and not the animated movie adaptation. Film versions often veer off into their own interpretations for various reasons. I prefer to go back to the folktale version and really get to the heart of the story. Then, you can add layers for people of all ages to enjoy. You’ve got to make sure there is enough depth to the story to keep everyone engaged.
GAT: Where do you find inspiration to recreate in the way that you do?
MP: From the deepest, darkest corners of my mind....I jest.
Inspiration can come from anywhere, truly. Sometimes it starts with a question about the story. For instance, with Mirror Mirror, I wondered about the origin of the magical mirror. Where did it come from and how did the stepmother come to own it? Why was she obsessed with it? The whole story developed from there.
GAT: What's your favorite classic fairy tale?
MP: It’s hard to choose, mostly because I find the allegorical tales of morality in most folk tales to be representative of the world we live in. They are timeless – vanity, greed, deception, moral values, etc. I’ve been enjoying working on Mirror Mirror immensely, though, so for the moment I’ll say Snow White.
GAT: What's the most exciting element of Mirror Mirror?
MP: I think people will be excited by how stylized the look is for Mirror Mirror. It’s a departure from a lot of the story ballets I’ve created. The contemporary setting has allowed for a different quality in the choreography, in the costumes, in the set, in the entire aesthetic. Traditionalists need not be worried, though. There is plenty of dancing to enjoy.
Purchase tickets for Mirror Mirror online or call the Milwaukee Ballet Box Office at (414) 902-2103. As an added perk, the audience is invited to attend the opening night party at the InterContinental post-show on Thursday, May 15.
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All photos courtesy of the Milwaukee Ballet.