There’s a good reason Daniel Blake appears to have been living in a fairy tale since the first of the year.
That’s because Blake is directing the Rochester Children’s Dance Theatre’s production of “Hansel and Gretel,” and it has always been one of his favorite stories.
“I have had a love for ‘Hansel & Gretel’ for a long time,” he said. So when CDT decided to present a new production of “Hansel & Gretel,” after first presenting the ballet in 2008, Blake was ready and willing.
“We started talking about all the ideas we could adapt, talking about all the scenes,” Blake said. “We knew we had Hansel and Gretel and a witch. We knew we were going to have gingerbread dancers. But what other types of candy dancers would we have?”
Those decisions and dozens of others are behind the dance company now, as Blake and his 60 dance students, four guest dancers and six theatrical actors move into Mayo Civic Center’s Presentation Hall next week for final rehearsals before the March 13 opening.
In addition to direction by Blake, the production has been choreographed by Reinhard von Rabenau, of the Minnesota Ballet, who will also dance in the show.
This is not a straight repeat of the 2008 CDT production of “Hansel and Gretel,” Blake said.
“It’s a completely original production,” he said. “We have new choreography, new music.”
The dancers range in age from five to 18 and come from throughout the region. “I’ve heard some of the older dancers say they were gingerbread kids in 2008,” Blake said.
Some of the music for this production comes from Engelbert Humperdinck’s 1893 opera of “Hansel and Gretel.”
But, as with any dance production, the meshing of music with movement is paramount. “We’re making sure everything flows really well,” Black said.
The dancers have been rehearsing for just that reason since the first weekend in January. Rehearsals start at noon every Sunday and can last until 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. And it’s not just ballet that’s being practiced.
“The technique is rooted in ballet,” Blake said, “but there is also a lot of contemporary dance and character dancing.”
In other words, it’s been a full plate for the dancers — and their director.
The payoff comes, Blake said, “When you see them inspired and see them rising above what they thought they could do.”