Ballet company debuts ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Andrew Lester and Michelle Ludwig, who play the title characters in “Beauty and the Beast,” are among the dozen or so professional dancers Twin Cities Ballet enlisted for the 90-member cast. (Photo submitted)
Andrew Lester and Michelle Ludwig, who play the title characters in “Beauty and the Beast,” are among the dozen or so professional dancers Twin Cities Ballet enlisted for the 90-member cast. (Photo submitted)

Don’t expect to encounter any talking teapots or candlesticks with French accents in Twin Cities Ballet’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

The Lakeville-based dance company’s new production, which runs May 9-11 at the Ames Center in Burnsville, was written in the tradition of classic story ballets — with the tale told through dance and music, rather than words and song.

Disney characters are absent, explained Twin Cities Ballet artistic director Denise Vogt, though the magic of the original tale is not.

“It’s not like the Disney version — you’re not going to find Chip the Cup or a dancing broom,” said Vogt, who wrote and choreographed the adaptation.

“It’s a very easy story to follow — it’s about inner beauty, it’s about loss, it’s about love, and it’s also about a relationship between two people and how she can see through his ugliness to see his heart.”

With a cast of about 90, the production features dancers drawn mainly from Ballet Royale Minnesota, the Lakeville dance studio run by Vogt and her husband Rick.

Twin Cities Ballet dancers rehearse Sunday in preparation for the May 9 opening of “Beauty and the Beast” at the Ames Center in Burnsville. (Photo submitted)
Twin Cities Ballet dancers rehearse Sunday in preparation for the May 9 opening of “Beauty and the Beast” at the Ames Center in Burnsville. (Photo submitted)

Along with the student-dancers, there’s also about a dozen professional dancers in the mix, among them Andrew Lester and Michelle Ludwig, who play the title characters.

Twin Cities Ballet also commissioned an original score for the production. Composer Jordan Cox, a Minnesota native now living in Los Angeles, brought a background in classical and film scores — including work on documentaries and television commercials — to the task.

“Beauty and the Beast” is the third ballet written by Denise Vogt for Twin Cities Ballet, formerly Lakeville City Ballet, which is known for its annual south-metro production of “The Nutcracker.”

The dance company’s first original production, “Wizard of Oz – The Ballet,” debuted in May 2012, followed by “Cinderella 1944” in May of last year. The Vogts’ goal is to gradually build a repertoire of original story ballets that will rotate throughout the year.

Tickets for “Beauty and the Beast” range from $16-$32 and are available at the Ames Center box office and at Ticketmaster.com.

More about the production is at www.twincitiesballet.org.