Gwinnett Ballet Theatre treated pandemic-weary audiences to the magic of live performances during the 2020 holiday season’s “The Nutcracker.”
Now, Gwinnett’s only professional ballet company will offer another family-friendly production with “Beauty and the Beast” for three shows April 2-3 at the Infinite Energy Theatre in Duluth. Virtual shows are also available.
Lori Zamzow-Wire, GBT’s new artistic director, is also the choreographer for this favorite story ballet.
“In ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ the intricate technique and artistry of the lead characters highlight the technique and training of Gwinnett Ballet Theatre’s Professional Company and blend in with the fun and lively characters performed by the talented Sugarloaf Youth Ballet,” she said.
(GBT recently joined forces with Sugarloaf Performing Arts which includes the Sugarloaf Youth Ballet.)
Within “Beauty and the Beast’s” beautiful dancing and comedic performances, Zamzow-Wire believes there is another meaning in the story for everyone.
“The theme of overcoming obstacles and circumstances is an especially important message for today’s audiences,” she said. “It is a reminder for youth and adults of the bravery they must find inside themselves to overcome their fears.
“I have always loved this story. I first created it on the Sugarloaf Youth Ballet company in 2017, and it turned out to be an audience favorite. This year, the level of the ballet performance is enhanced with the professional dancers and their maturity in technique and artistry.”
Performing the lead roles are two committed artists who are also very versatile performers.
Nick Hagelin, GBT’s Beast, is familiar to audiences for his dancing and also for his singing and acting. He finds this update of the ballet rewarding.
“There is a lot of wonderful character development that happens in this version,” he said. “Miss Lori has done a great job making sure that both Beauty and the Beast share a lot of time onstage together so you can really watch their relationship evolve.”
“I just keep trying to push the envelope on both ends of the character spectrum,” he said. “I am trying to lean into the polarities of this fun, complex character.”
Belle is performed by dancer Brooke Burgess who began dance instruction with Sugarloaf Ballet at age 12. After graduating from high school in 2018, she danced professionally with the Georgia Ballet, returning to Gwinnett to join GBT when it reorganized as a professional company last year.
“This ballet will always hold a special place in my heart,” said Burgess, who premiered the role in 2017. “Being able to perform the role yet again, and grow into the role even further, has been an incredibly rewarding experience.”
Performances will be held April 2 at 7:30 p.m. and April 3 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@ mindspring.com.