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Ballet, Philharmonic collaborate on 'Sleeping Beauty'

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'The Sleeping Beauty'

What: The Fort Wayne Ballet and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic collaborate on this timeless fairy tale choreographed by Marius Petipa with music by Tchaikovsky.
When: 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Arts United Center, 303 E. Main St.
Cost: $30 adult, $25 senior, $25 youth and $15 child. To order tickets by phone, call the Fort Wayne Ballet at 484-9646 to purchase tickets with a credit card noon-6 p.m. Monday-Friday. To order in person, go to the Arts United Center Box Office, 303 E. Main St. (in the front vestibule) noon-6 p.m. Monday- Friday. On the day of a performance, the Arts United Center box office is open noon-8 p.m.for evening performances and noon-2:30 p.m. for matinee performances. Call in advance to confirm availability at 422-4226.
Etc: After Friday's performance, there will be an opening night champagne and dessert reception. Tickets are $10 per adult or $5 per child for the reception. Fairytale partys follow the matinees Saturday and Sunday. Meet the dancers, get autographs and take pictures with your favorite dancers for $8 per person.

Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 12:01 am

Spoiler alert: "The Sleeping Beauty" has a happy ending.

But you already knew that, didn't you? Who hasn't read the story or watched the Disney movie based on the fairy tale "La Belle au bois dormant" by Charles Perrault?

This spring, the Fort Wayne Ballet and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic bring the story to life on stage in four performances at the Arts United Center, 303 E. Main St.

Lucia Rogers, who is in her eighth season as a professional dancer at Fort Wayne Ballet, plays the lead role of Princess Aurora in some of the performances. She shares the role with Cara Allison.

The two women share the role because "Aurora is such a demanding role," Rogers said. "There are so many technically challenging parts of the role." And that is despite Rogers not dancing at all in the prologue, called "The Christening."

The story begins with baby Aurora's christening, when fairies bestow gifts on the princess. Aurora is played by a real, live baby, Elizabeth Dressler -- a baby who may actually cry. "It's live theater, and that's what makes it exciting," Rogers said. "It's just like real life."

In Act I, Princess Aurora is celebrating her 16th birthday. Her father, King Florestan, has invited suitors from foreign lands to court his daughter. In the rose adage, Aurora dances with all four, who present her with roses.

"It's such a fun part to do," Rogers said. "You get to interact with all four."

However, the act ends with the evil fairy Carobosse tricking Aurora into pricking her finger on a spindle. She doesn't die, however, because the Lilac Fairy casts a spell that puts Aurora and the entire kingdom asleep until Aurora is awakened by her true love's kiss.

In Act II, the Lilac Fairy takes Prince Desire to the sleeping princess, where he cannot hold himself back from kissing her. When he does, she and the entire kingdom awaken.

Act III is the wedding of Princess Aurora and Prince Desire. Other fairy tale characters, such as Puss-n-Boots and Little Red Riding Hood, are invited to the wedding.

"At the end, they (Aurora and Desire) of course live happily ever after," Rogers said.

She has danced in "The Sleeping Beauty" before, but played the bluebird in that earlier production. "So this is a new role for me," she said. "It's nice to kind of grow and challenge yourself in a role."

Rogers, who is 26, started dancing when she was 3. She moved here in the fifth grade and graduated from Bishop Dwenger High School.

Growing up, she played soccer and was a cheerleader, but dance was always the constant.

"I loved the challenge," she said. "There's really no ceiling when it comes to dance."

Despite virtually a lifetime of dancing, Rogers still finds ways to challenge herself. There's always room for improvement in artistic expression and technical skills, such as balancing longer, moving slower with more control, doing turns consistently or working on jumps, she said.

At 5-foot-1 1/2 inches tall she's "a little bit smaller than usual" for a dancer, but has never found that to be a disadvantage.

Rogers may be tiny, but she's strong and healthy, due to a good diet and daily exercise.

"It's important the dancers are healthy," she said. "We're so athletic in our movement."

She cross-trains doing Pilates and yoga and jazz, contemporary and modern dance in addition to ballet.

Her partner in "The Sleeping Beauty" is David Ingram, who plays Prince Desire opposite Rogers. Ingram is a principal dancer with the Fort Wayne Ballet and the Men's Program coordinator.

"David is such a wonderful partner to work with," Rogers said.

Pete Walker dances the role of Prince Desire opposite Allison.

Adding a special element to the ballet is the presence of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic performing the Tchaikovsky score.

"You really do feel the music," Rogers said.