December 10, 2018

Eastern Connecticut Ballet to Perform ‘The Magic Toy Shoppe’ This Weekend

Ellie Weise of Old Lyme

Ellie Wiese of Old Lyme stars as a Bird in ‘The Magic Toy Shoppe.’

On Saturday and Sunday, May 9 and 10, which is Mother’s Day weekend, Eastern Connecticut Ballet (ECB) will stage two matinee performances of “The Magic Toy Shoppe,” a playful, vibrant ballet that will delight all ages.

Matinees will be held at 3 p.m. on both days in the Lyme-Old Lyme High School auditorium. Each audience member who donates a new toy to the Spring Toy Drive (coordinated by Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau benefiting area children’s hospitals and shelters) will earn a chance to win an American Girl Doll or a prize from the event sponsor, The Bowerbird.

The ballet’s story unfolds in a small shop where, each night after closing time, toys from around the world come to life. The characters include two classic French clowns, dancing Scottish girls, Cossack ponies, a tarantella dancer from Italy, a bevy of fairies and the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio. Dancers also portray ballerina dolls.

Gloria Govrin, artistic director of ECB, coordinates all of this creativity onstage. A soloist with New York City Ballet, who studied with the legendary George Balanchine, she is known for her own imaginative choreography. Where does she turn for inspiration? Govrin says that it all begins with simple listening.

“Whatever I hear in the music is what we’ll do,” she says. She creates each piece to fit the talents and level of each individual dancer or group.

As Govrin explains, a ballet such as The Magic Toy Shoppe is never performed the same way twice. It changes and evolves each time it comes to the stage. Originating as “La Boutique Fantasque,” The Magic Toy Shoppe had its world premiere in London in 1919.

At that time, the dancing of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, choreography by Léonide Massine, melodies by Rossini adapted by Respighi, and colorful sets and costumes by the artist André Derain all combined to give the one-act ballet its charm. According to The Times of London, the audience was “sent off its head with delight” after the first performance. The work continues to captivate audiences today.

After the Old Lyme performances, children are invited onstage to take photos with the dancers, and each will receive a special toy to take home.

Eastern Connecticut Ballet, a school for classical ballet, based in East Lyme, attracts students from more than 40 towns throughout eastern Connecticut. Known for its annual production of The Nutcracker in New London, ECB brings other original works to the stage throughout the year and performs with local orchestras as well.

Advance tickets for The Magic Toy Shoppe are $12 for children and $18 for adults and may be purchased at ECB’s studio, 435 Boston Post Rd. in East Lyme, or The Bowerbird Gift Shop in the Old Lyme Marketplace. Tickets at the door are $14 for children, $20 for adults. Children aged three and under are free if sitting on a parent’s lap.

For more information, call 860-739-7899 or visit www.easternctballet.com.

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