ASHLAND — On Sunday afternoon, the Lexington-based Kentucky Ballet Theatre will make its debut in Ashland’s Paramount Arts Center, as the troupe collaborates with the Ashland Youth Ballet to present an interpretation of “The Little Mermaid.”
While many may relate to the Disney adaptation of “The Little Mermaid,” the story was originally written in the 1800s by Hans Christian Andersen in his native Denmark.
Sunday’s production will not be the Disney version, but instead will be an adaptation that will feature melodies from classical composers melded with a visual side to the ballet.
According to Kentucky Ballet Theatre’s Artistic Director Norbe Risco, this show will be a feast for the eyes and ears.
“This is a very colorful production with all of the costumes you will see,” said Risco. “And, I mean, we have a lot of costumes in the show. We will also do about seven scene changes onstage during the ballet, so it is very cool. We have a multimedia aspect to the ballet as we use projection screens. So the audience is always on edge. It is not a ballet where they will fall asleep or anything like that. It’s really cool, and that is the way I like to do all of my productions. There is a lot of excitement during the show.”
This production will take place at the Paramount Arts Center at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 13. The show was postponed from a planned Saturday performance due to the threat of inclement weather.
Tickets range from $18 to $50, and all tickets will automatically transfer to the new show date. More information can be found at paramountartscenter.com.
Risco is a native of Cuba, where he spent many years studying dance from the age of 10. At age 18, he performed with Cuba’s professional dance company for five years under the tutelage of Fernando Alonso, co-founder of the Cuba National Ballet. Risco’s talent eventually led him to Mexico, where he once again danced for Alonso. Then, he moved to Chicago for two years before accepting the position of artistic director of the Kentucky Ballet Theatre, where he has been for the past two decades.
Risco said he enjoys taking the Kentucky Ballet Theatre to smaller towns like Ashland to encourage the youth in those regions to take up ballet. Collaborating with the Ashland Youth Ballet was an essential part of his artistic outreach.
“When you are the artistic director of a ballet company, you are in charge of selecting the professional dancers,” said Risco. “I also help to oversee the Dance Academy in Lexington, along with my wife, Rafaela Risco, and Adell Cook. We try to go out and perform in different parts of the state when we can, depending on the budgets, although we are pretty affordable. For young kids who might decide to come to our academy someday, watching a live ballet performance is much better than seeing one on TV.”
Risco has longed to play the Paramount in Ashland.
“I have not performed there before, but I have been in the theater,” said Risco. “I have wanted to bring the ballet there for a long time, but before now there was not a possibility. A couple of years ago, I met Maria Whaley, who is the director of the Ashland Youth Ballet, and their dance academy is right behind the Paramount Arts Center. One day, I went there to teach some dance classes and I have also been coaching one of her students for three years. I was chatting with Maria and that is how this production happened. I said, ‘You know, I’ve always wanted to perform at the Paramount. Maybe we can do a collaboration with your Ashland Youth Ballet students and make them a part of my professional performance.’”