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A dance adaptation of the famous play by William Shakespeare, the ballet deals with the humorous fortunes and misfortunes of a group of mortals and immortals. Bordering in a world between dream and reality, two pairs of young lovers and other charming characters involve themselves in magical pursuits. A fantasy of folklore and fairies, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a delightful story for the young and old.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream was first performed by the California Ballet in 1977 in the Starlight Bowl and has become a popular mainstay of their repertoire. California Ballet Company Director and Choreographer Maxine Mahon selected Felix Mendelssohn’s incidental music for the original A Midsummer Night’s Dream stage play and expanded it to a full-length ballet with the help of the Company’s music advisor, David Ward-Steinman. Additional Mendelssohn music from the Forth and Ninth Symphonies and other compositions have been successfully incorporated into the ballet. “I was looking for a full-length ballet to add to California Ballet’s repertoire, so I spoke with world renown Choreographer George Balanchine,” said Mahon. “At the time, no one had produced another version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Balanchine advised me to tell Shakespeare’s story more thoroughly. So I adorned the choreography with comedic, romantic and elegant nuances to create a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that would be well loved by both patrons and Shakespeare followers.”
Further changes from Balanchine’s version include the “play within a play” featuring Bottom and his friends. “Additionally, all the forest creatures are danced by children, who are essential in creating the illusion of Faeryland.The premiere of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was danced in Balboa Park, so we found a way of capturing the beauty of the foliage, essential to the creation of a forest in the story. A Midsummer Night’s Dream has all the characteristics of a ‘true ballet. It takes a complete story and puts it into dance form using all the elements of theatre,” said Mahon.