Wednesday, April 18, 2012: A Boy, A Dog …

Opus Osm

Goldilocks and assorted amusing characters take the stage Saturday at the Theatre of the Estates.

A Boy, A Dog, and a … Ballet!

When I mentioned to my son Oliver that we’re going to see the Zlatovláska ballet, he laughed. “That’s a funny name,” he remarked. I told him that the ballet’s English name, Goldilocks, is one he knows, but that the performance we’ll see will be quite different from the American version of the fairy tale. I know, as I had the good fortune to see the Goldilocks ballet at the Estates Theater a few years ago with my daughter and my mother.

At that time, Oliver didn’t come with us; I wasn’t sure he would sit still. But I didn’t want to miss seeing this Czech ballet favorite by The National Theatre Ballet, based on K. J. Erben’s “Goldilocks” fairy tale. The ballet mixes intense dramatic scenes with lighter comedic ones, and now that Oliver is nearly 5, I believe it has enough adventure and key masculine characters to retain his interest. I told Oliver that a ballet dancer dressed as a dog will be onstage. He giggled again and said he was ready to go to the theater straightaway.

Opus Osm

The ballet's story includes plenty of action with dancing dogs. But will five-year-old Oliver, in the audience, be amused? We'll have to wait til after Saturday's performance to find out.

Although I didn’t want to give Oliver too much information before the ballet, I thought he’d be more interested in the dancing if he knew the basic plot. So, I explained that in the beginning of the story, an evil King is visited by an old woman who gives him a snake to eat so that he can understand the way animals talk. His servant George cooks the snake for the King, but tastes it too, even though the King had forbade him to. After learning of the servant’s betrayal, the King sends him on a journey to fulfill three impossible tasks to find a pearl, a ring, and a golden-haired maiden. If George is able to accomplish all three and stay alive, he’ll win the maiden.

Along the way, George is accompanied by his faithful dog that helps out in surprising ways. I asked Oliver if he thought that George would be able to do everything he was supposed to, and Oliver answered confidently, yes. Then he added that he hoped it’d be scary because he likes scary things.

Although the National Theater has dedicated its Goldilocks performance to children, there is nothing childlike about the complex story. With themes like fidelity and love, it captures the interest of both young and old. I’m curious to see how Oliver reacts to the dancers and how well he is able to follow the plot. At first viewing, I was blown away by the dancing and neglected to focus as much on the story line, which meant that my daughter Anna Lee, my mother, and I had to do a little retroactive research. This time, Oliver and I should be prepared.

Goldilocks ballet is offered at the Theatre of the Estates limited times a year, so if you are interested in taking your child to a Saturday afternoon matinee, be sure to jump for this Saturday’s (Apr 21) performance at 2 pm, or for the evening show at 6 pm. — oo

– Emily Prucha

Photo Credits: Diana Zehetner

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