DENVER (CBS4) – The Colorado Ballet debuted “The Wizard of Oz” on February 1st. It’s a brand new ballet, developed through a collaboration between the Colorado Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and choreographer Septime Webre.
“For me, it always starts with the story,” Webre told CBS4.
Using the original book and some story points from the movie, licensed from Warner Brothers, Webre developed a production that is a big, new expression of the beloved classic.
“One of the things I tried to ensure was that we weren’t just doing a stage version of the film,” Webre said.
Webre choreographed the entire ballet from scratch. The dance is classic ballet mixed with modern movement. Webre challenges the dancers to go beyond their traditional technique.
“I wanted to ensure that the dancing embodied the characters,” Webre explained. “I can’t underscore greatly enough, the influence of the dancers I’m actually working with.”
One of those dancers is Dana Benton, who is debuting the role of “Dorothy” for Denver audiences.
“This role is really special because I’ve always wanted to be ‘Dorothy,’” Benton told CBs4.
“Dorothy” is no small role. Benton is in nearly every scene, including flying through the tornado that sends her to Oz.
PHOTO GALLERY: “The Wizard of Oz”
“I get to do a lot of stuff, acrobatic types of things, big lifts, being thrown around, a lot of steps that we don’t usually do in classical ballet, so it’s fun to experience,” Benton explained.
“I’m a classical ballet person, but this is really a work of pop culture,” Webre added.
Toto is a puppet, the tornado is an experience, and the yellow brick road comes to life.
“Essentially the spirit of the yellow brick road, there’s this rambunctious goofball yellow brick men,” Webre said.
This production of the “Wizard of Oz” is sold out, but the Colorado Ballet has several other innovative performances coming up.