Storybook Ballet 2023: Swan Lake, with a Splash!

For the last 22 years, Free Arts has partnered with Dance Theater West (DTW) to create DTW’s Storybook Ballet production featuring Free Arts children and teens. Our beloved partnership continued into September 2023, when twelve Free Arts children performed alongside DTW dancers at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Director Susie Silverman and her dancers worked with the Free Arts participants, teaching them choreography for their scenes in a spectacular performance of Swan Lake, with a Splash! Admission to the show was free and open to the public. The audience included Free Arts child welfare partner agencies as well as the performers’ friends and families. 

In addition to the ballet itself, Storybook Ballet featured another Free Arts component: Teaching Artist Frankie Marchi led teens living in a Free Arts Partner agency through a Professional Artist Series, resulting in the creation of poems themed around hope, magic, and the transformation from dark to light. After writing their pieces, participants recorded their work to be played at the end of the performance while dancers from Storybook Ballet, DTW, and Free Arts improvised movements to the spoken word.

After the performance, the Dayton Fowler Grafman Atrium featured an art exhibit created in a Free Arts Professional Artist Series entitled The Inspiration of Life. The exhibit was created by teens who have faced adversity and were residing in a Free Arts partner agency. The series was led by professional teaching artist Shelly Love. The pieces were photographs sharing participants’ images of self-empowerment, which explored underlying themes from Swan Lake such as movement, and dark versus light. The photographs were displayed in the atrium for the audience members to enjoy.

Audience members were also invited to engage in a multitude of art activities in the atrium, including folding origami swans, stringing colorful beaded Bravery Bracelets, and weaving macramé feathers. Free Arts volunteer mentors and staff supported children in making each of their creations.

Thank you, Dance Theater West, and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts for another great year!

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