N.C. Dance Theatre brought in reinforcements for its first-ever staging of "Sleeping Beauty," and the guests may bring back memories for dance lovers who have been here a while.
Until someone develops on-the-spot cloning, a company of 16 dancers needs help fleshing out a 2 1/2 hour story ballet. When NCDT staged "Romeo and Juliet" in 2008, its executive director -- Doug Singleton, who isn't a dancer at all -- had to pitch in by doing a walk-on as Romeo's father. A dancer who was injured played Romeo's mother, also a walk-on. During the ball scene in NCDT's "Cinderella," some of the revelers' dance partners were life-sized puppets -- which may sound odd, but suited the fantasy atmosphere.
NCDT sticks with flesh-and-blood performers for "Sleeping Beauty." Members of the NCDT 2 pre-professional company and a phalanx of students from NCDT's school play fairies, storybook characters and royal courtiers. And the company has reached even further.
One of NCDT's leading women for more than a decade, Kati Hanlon Mayo, is back from retirement playing the Queen (photo by T. Ortega Gaines). Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux's choreography doesn't call for Mayo to dance again -- not even to kick up her heels at the climactic wedding celebration -- so her fans will have to be satisfied by seeing the broad smile Mayo displayed in the "Nutcracker" and other ballets.
At Mayo's side is Hardin Minor as the King. Since the veteran mime usually performs in deep disguise -- as Marilyn Monroe, for instance -- many people who see him in action probably don't have much idea what he actually looks like. They still may not after "Sleeping Beauty," where his 17th-century finery includes a capacious, flowing wig that almost eclipses his face. But that's him in there amid the tresses.
The King's loyal subjects include two men who performed in NCDT alongside Mayo around a decade ago: Lance Hardin and Benjamin Kubie. Hardin now teaches in Colorado, NCDT says. Kubie still lives in Charlotte and sometimes teaches at the Charlotte School of Ballet. During "Sleeping Beauty," they're among the guests in the scenes at the royal court. Unlike Mayo and Minor, they do go into action in the finale's wedding dance. It must bring back memories for them.