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Big Plans for Ballet Theatre of Maryland's 2011/2012 Season (Part 1)

Dancers performing scenes from Romeo and Juliet at the Renaissance Festival this weekend.

The Ballet Theatre of Maryland (BTM) has lots on tap for the coming season - an adventurous program of classical and contemporary, old favorites and new.

This weekend, the company will be performing excerpts from Romeo and Juliet and Excalibur at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. All three days, BTM is scheduled on the Royal Stage at noon. 

From medieval times to present, the public is invited to celebrate a very big milestone for BTM: On Sept. 17, BTM will be hosting the Grand Opening of their new studios, located off of Moreland Parkway.

This ribbon-cutting celebration will be officiated by Mayor Joshua Cohen, with Alderwoman Classie Hoyle also attending. BTM dancers will perform. 

With the new studio, comes new hopes, including greater offerings within the community.   

"Beginning with our ribbon-cutting ceremony, Sept. 17, 2011, we will be able to host some after-hours business networking events that will allow us to service the community in new and exciting ways,while connecting our dancers directly to the community," said Dianna Cuatto, BTM's artistic director.

On Oct. 1, the ballet will be continuing its collaboration with the City of Bowie with a performance at the Bowie Center for Performing Arts - Storybook Theater will feature scenes from Alice in Wonderland, Excalibur, and a sneak peek at Aladdin.

On the weekend of Oct. 21, the ballet will be kicking off its Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts season with the premier of the full-length version of Aladdin, which was the public's No. 2 choice, behind Alice in Wonderland two years ago when BTM opened voting up to the public on which storybook ballet they'd like to see performed.

According to a statement released by BTM, "Aladdin fuses the traditional story from Arabian Nights with more contemporary retellings into a story that will delight the whole family."

The role of Aladdin will be played by BTM's Ballet Master Joshua Burnham, with the role of Princess Samira played by BTM's Ballet Mistress Meagan Helman. 

“I am looking forward to making our audiences’ wish come true by bringing a wizard, a sorceress, a genie, a ring of power and the Lamp of Wonders together onstage in our world premiere of Aladdin," said Cuatto. "The challenge for me is in how to create some real magic on stage as our hero rescues his princess and her kingdom from the demon snakes of the wizard villain Jamal.”

An hour prior to Sunday’s Aladdin matinee, audience members can join Aladdin and Princess Samira for an Arabian Nights party. They're also welcome to dress as their favorite fairytale character.

Then comes December and the holidays would not be complete without The Nutcracker. BTM will be performing the holiday classic for two weekends at Maryland Hall beginning Dec. 11. 

The much-loved Sugar Plum Fairy parties will again be offered for ticket holders for all Sunday performances. 

BTM will take Aladdin on the road Feb. 11 to the Mar-Va Theater in Pocomoke. This follows three years of selling out the 500-seat, historic theater on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Returning to Maryland Hall the weekend of Feb. 24, BTM will be presenting an evening of one-act ballets featuring The Scarlet Letter and The Firebird. 

Feature roles for The Scarlet Letter include Kathryn Carlson as the heroine Hester Prynne, with Brian Walker as Dimmesdale and Nicole Seitz as Pearl.

The Firebird will be played by Erica Wong.

“I have always wanted to present an evening of one-act ballet, much like the Ballet Russes presented in the early 20th century when The Firebird made its original debut in Paris,” said Cuatto.

On March 30, BTM will return to the Baltimore Museum of Art to present the mixed repetoire On the Move 2.

"The season closes with Director’s Choice in April, a mixed bill performance featuring Reflections on Grace, a work celebrating the 100th birthday of famed Denishawn dancer and Annapolis native, Grace Clark," according to BTM's statement.

Editor's Note: The writer is a volunteer for BTM and her husband serves on its Board of Trustees.

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