Fresh off a successful first performance of the Nutcracker back in January, Come and Take It Dance is again bringing professional talent to Gonzales, this time with three performances of “The Sleeping Beauty” in June.
Show times are at noon and 7 p.m. June 10 and 2 p.m. June 11 at the Crystal Theatre. Tickets can only be purchased online at comeandtakeitdance.com for $30 per person and there will be assigned seating. The performances of the Nutcracker sold out, so an additional show was added due to expected sales for this new show.
“Our first Nutcracker performance was a tremendous success in our small city,” said Guy Lahav, who runs the studio with his partner Gary Franco. “The audience was thrilled by the talented dancers, stunning costumes, and beautiful sets. The performance was sold out, and we received many positive reviews from attendees. “The entire cast and crew put in a tremendous amount of hard work, and their efforts paid off in a big way. It was a magical evening that left a lasting impression on everyone who attended. We have already started rehearsing for our next big performance and hope to continue to bring joy and entertainment to our community through the art of dance.”
Like “The Nutcracker,” “The Sleeping Beauty” was written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and is the second of his three ballets, with the first being “Swan Lake.” The original ballet includes a prologue and three acts set to Tchaikovsky’s Opus 66, completed in 1889. It originally premiered at the Marlinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in January 1890.
The Come and Take It Dance performance is pared down from the original ballet and is comprised of two acts. In Act I, King Florestan XIV and Queen celebrate the christening of their daughter, Princess Aurora, with fairies bestowing gifts. Evil fairy Carabosse arrives uninvited, curses Aurora to prick her finger and die on her sixteenth birthday.
Aurora turns 16 and dances with her four suitors. Carabosse appears as an old woman with a spindle, Aurora pricks her finger, and falls into a deep sleep. Lilac Fairy reminds everyone that Aurora is not dead, but sleeping for 100 years and casts a spell to shield the castle with an impenetrable forest.
Prince Désiré and his hunting party are in the forest. The Lilac Fairy appears before Prince Désiré and tells him of Aurora, and they dance together. Désiré goes on a quest to find the Sleeping Beauty, slays the wicked Carabosse, awakens Aurora with a kiss, and they marry.
Act II is the wedding, in which the court assembles for the wedding of Princess Aurora and Prince Désiré. The invited guests include many fairy tale characters.
Three principal professional dancers will be taking part in the show. They include:
Jenna Valdez (Princess Aurora)
Jenna is from Redlands, California and began her ballet training at age four at Inland Dance Academy under the direction of Evette Demarco Swinson and Diane Amendt. In 2011 she joined Los Angeles Ballet as a trainee and appeared in their production of Swan Lake. From 2012 to 2013 Jenna worked as a dancer at Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure. She performed the lead roles in Disney California Adventure’s Phineas and Ferb’s Rockin’ Rollin’ Dance Party and was a Toy Factory Elf in Disneyland’s A Christmas Fantasy Parade.
In 2013 Jenna moved to Mississippi where she accepted a trainee position with Ballet Magnificat. She toured with them all throughout the Southern states, Mexico, and Honduras. Jenna returned to California in 2018 where she accepted an apprentice position with Inland Pacific Ballet. She has performed in their productions of Some Enchanted Evening, The Nutcracker, and The Little Mermaid.
In 2019 Jenna was promoted to company member and in 2020 she also joined LA Dance Moves as a company dancer where she performed in their virtual world premieres of Beyond Limits and Pulse. In 2022 Jenna performed three original pieces with Ballet Project Orange County in their spring production Orange County Choreographic Collective. That year she also performed as the Sugarplum Fairy and Snow Queen in Inland Pacific Ballet’s Nutcracker. Jenna is featured as the ballerina in Mexican music artist Kanales’s music video for “El Barquito.” She performed the role of Sugarplum Fairy in Come and Take It Dance’s production of “The Nutcracker.”
Brandon Forrest (Prince Desire)
Brandon Forrest was interestingly enough born at the same place as Master Gary. Brandon is a Colburn School/San Francisco Ballet School Alum, and former company member of Los Angeles Ballet. He has been guest starring with many distinguished ballet academies from Long Beach Ballet to Carmel where he and Gary coincidentally shared the stage again. Brandon has also been featured in magazines such as Vogue/GQ for Ray Ban and M Stevens Dancewear. Brandon was in a season finale episode of Glee and strives to continue singing, percussion and composing to accompany a philosophical revamping of holistic entertainment.
Melanie Ax (Lilac Fairy)
Born in New Jersey, Melanie began her ballet studies at the age of 5 with Madame Irene Fokine and Jeanette Hoffman and won her first scholarship program at the age of 9. She also studied under Leonid Kozlov, Mark Jelks and Priscilla Brownlee.
Melanie has performed throughout New Jersey, New York and Los Angeles in leading roles in such productions as The Nutcracker, Paquita, Who Cares?, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, La Bayadere, Swan Lake, Apollo and Stars and Stripes.
Melanie has also been teaching ballet to youth and adults for 15 years.