Perhaps it was kismet that a Germantown-based ballet school and company with a mission to bring dance education and performance to students from diverse backgrounds would stage a December production that is a travelogue through culture and the arts.
“A Winter’s Dream,” presented by International Ballet Exchange will take the audience on a journey from an enchanted winter forest to the glowing Northern Lights with a sampling of global dance styles along the way. The ballet company will perform “A Winter’s Dream” at 1 and 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, at Teatro Esperanza in Hunting Park.
“We are delighted to be returning the ballet to the stage and to the beautiful Teatro Esperanza, which is a great space to dance in and to watch dance,” International Ballet Exchange executive director Christina Castro-Tauser said in a press release.
“A Winter’s Dream” features a cast of youngsters ages 5 to 18 from the ballet company’s sister studio, Wissahickon Dance Academy, along with performers from other local studios, ballet professionals and adult dancers from the community.
Dancers who perform international dances will also be featured, including performers from Modero, a Philadelphia troupe that focuses on Indonesian dance, Ballet Folklorico Mexico Lindo, which is based in Wilmington, and the Philadelphia Argentine Tango School.
Castro-Tauser, who trained in classical ballet with award-winning teacher and coach Laura Alonso, a former dancer with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, created the ballet last summer and fall at a time when she was uncertain about whether they would be able to perform before a live audience. As a result, she created a ballet that didn’t have an explicit holiday theme and could be presented at any time of year.
“I made a ballet that can be adapted for a variety of venues and audiences and also grow with time,” Castro-Tauser said in the press release. The ballet was able to debut last year and included performances not only at Teatro Esperanza, but also at Frances Willard Elementary School, where International Ballet Exchange is in residence with a program of weekly ballet classes. Castro-Tauser staged a shortened version of the ballet at the school with Willard students dancing with professionals and youth artists.
Founded in 1998, International Ballet Exchange seeks “to bring high-quality, classical ballet education and performances to Philadelphia public school students from diverse racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.” The company also aims to teach artistic and life skills, foster international understanding and aesthetic awareness; and make appreciation of and participation in ballet accessible to all communities.
Castro-Tauser was named executive director of the company in July 2020. She is a winner of one of the three inaugural Art is Essential grants from Knight Foundation and the City of Philadelphia.
Tickets for “A Winter’s Dream” are $25 and available at internationalballet.org. Teatro Esperanza is 4261 N. 5th Street in Hunting Park. Parking is free.