by Amber Vasquez
It is really thanks to Joanne that the ballet version of The Beautiful Cassandra was born. Her creation of bright, dancer-friendly music, in my opinion, made a ballet inevitable! My next focus was to keep the costuming and the overall sense of the ballet as close as possible to the charming visual world that Juliet created. The ballet was first performed on Saturday, November 17, 2007 in Taos, New Mexico, by the Taos Youth Ballet. The following pictures by Brenda Euwers from this performance show how well we succeeded.
1. For instance, here is an illustration of Juliet’s Cassandra as a mouse; and here is Marie Adams as Cassandra in the ballet version of the story. I chose Marie to play the part of Cassandra not only because of her dancing ability but also because she is a wonderful actress and one of my smallest 8-year-old students, which helps lend her a “small-as-a-mouse” appearance.
2. Here Juliet’s Cassandra curtseys to the Viscount, the lounge lizard; and here he is in the ballet, wearing a beautiful costume recreation by Viola Vasquez.
3. Here Juliet’s Cassandra devours six ices. The ballet Cassandra does the same, but is joined in a dance by the chef and two waitresses.
4. Clyde the turtle (as Joanne has named him), who draws the hackney coach in Juliet’s version, has metamorphosed into two prancing ponies in the dance version.
5. Then Maria and Cassandra “pass each other in a mutual silence” – in both versions. At this point in the story Cassandra has given her bonnet away to Clyde. In the dance Maria uses her own beautifull bonnet to taunt Cassandra.
6. And Juliet’s Cassandra encounters the widow through her window. In the ballet version I had the widow come out to meet Cassandra on the street where they dance together. Joanne’s music for this section was pariticularly evocative: the musicians chose this section for an encore.
In November 2008, after the presentation of pictures and music at the Chicago JASNA AGM, the ballet of The Beautifull Cassandra was danced again in Taos, with Eila Gustina as Cassie. Here she appears with her milliner mother, and with the whole cast of the ballet.
Note: Photographs of the performances of The Beautifull Cassandra are used here by kind permission the Taos Youth Ballet.