Northwest Ballet is coming to Blaine

Published on Wed, Jul 9, 2014 by Ian Ferguson

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The Northwest Ballet Theater (NBT) will perform a new ballet adaptation of Snow White, the old Brothers Grimm fairy tale, at the Performing Arts Center in Blaine on August 2.

Snow White is an original ballet written and directed by John Bishop, artistic director of NBT. Based in Bellingham, the company usually appears at the Mount Baker Theatre, but occasionally performs in other venues throughout Whatcom and Skagit counties. The performance of Snow White in August will be the first ballet to be held in Blaine.

“It’s fun for the dancers to perform for new audiences in different venues,” Bishop said.

Emily DesChane, a high school senior from Custer, will star in her first lead role as Snow White. Guest artist Natasha Keeley, who dances in Seattle, will add star power to the cast of 25 in her role as the Evil Queen.

While most of the cast members are dance students in the Northwest Ballet Academy, also directed by Bishop, some are local actors and actresses who are well known in the Bellingham theater scene.

To prepare for the August production, the core soloists have begun a rigorous practice schedule that will continue throughout the summer. Students practice for five hours per day, seven days a week.

“We augment this production with high intensity practice throughout the summer,” Bishop said. The intense practice and rehearsals will ensure that the performers are dialed in for their one-time show in Blaine.

The score for Snow White is by 17th century French composer Hector Berlioz.

“It’s a riveting musical score,” Bishop said.

Bishop formed NBT in 2000 with Maureen Skomerza, with a vision of building a professional level regional ballet company. Since then, NBT has produced multiple classical full-length ballets each year, including The Nutcracker, Coppelia, La Fille Mal Gardee, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Firebird and Swan Lake among others.

Bishop has also created and choreographed more than a dozen original ballets including Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and Emerald Bay with production help from his wife, Mieko Bishop.