Valentine's Day in Camelot



Cincinnati Ballet Artistic Director Victoria Morgan believes the upcoming “King Arthur’s Camelot” performances will make for an ideal Valentine’s Day date, but it’s about more than the lush costumes, romantic story and moving performances by some of the most accomplished ballet professionals. 

“This story, and in particular, this Cincinnati Ballet version of this story, makes us think,” Morgan says. “It’s the kind of thing couples can discuss over coffee after the show – What did it all mean? How can love in all its intensity change, enrich, and if not taken care of, consume your life?” 

Morgan says it was not a simple decision to tackle a ballet version of the classic tale. She wasn’t sure if the story would still ring true for today’s audience, or if the structure would lend itself well to a ballet production. When she began really digging into the story alongside friend and longtime Cincinnati Ballet supporter Rhonda Sheakley, however, the two were amazed to discover a story that would not only work well on the ballet stage, but one that seemed like an especially good match for the art of movement.

“It’s actually very movement based,” Morgan says. “There’s the fighting to get the sword, a crazed dance in a meadow, magical, extreme characteristics, and of course, love, romance and infatuation throughout the story.”

Morgan says audiences can expect something very special from the “King Arthur’s Camelot” performances – something bigger than life, almost cinematic, with attention devoted to every detail. Sandra Woodall, famed San Francisco-based costume designer, was brought in to oversee the design of costumes. Morgan says the wedding dress in particular is a work of art – a unique, felted dress with gorgeous metallic patterns and designs. A great deal of time has been spent designing armor for the dancers that can both move and present the strong features of medieval armor. 

Perhaps most intriguing are state-of-the-art features that will be incorporated into the production of one of the oldest recorded romance stories. Morgan says the curtain will never close, thanks to the magic of projection. “Scenes will shift before your eyes. There’s a dissolving, and then the evolution into a new scene, and it happens very quickly.” 

The music is new as well. John Estacio, an acclaimed Canadian composer, has put together what Morgan says is a gorgeous, epic, full-bodied soundscape for the production. 

Other features include an enormous charging horse puppet that will give the illusion of a magical creature launching around the stage. Morgan says the show is family-friendly, but a “hair darker” and unique from other retellings in that it is positioned from King Arthur’s point of view. “We meet Arthur as a boy, and things get interesting,” she says. “It’s a generational story – the next generation must move forward, and hopefully, learn from the previous one. We need to learn from our own history.”

Cincinnati Ballet presents “King Arthur’s Camelot,” February 10-12, Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. For more information, call 513.621.5282 or visit www.cballet.org.