Christine Meneer, the artistic director of Ballet Theatre of Ohio, said the ballet company's upcoming production of "Sleeping Beauty" combines elements of Disney, "Into the Woods" and the company's own touches for its own dance.

"It's a beautiful ballet," said Meneer. "We combine and introduce other fairy tale characters, like Handel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella. It's for children as young as 3. They will be able to follow the story very easily. And it's danced to the gorgeous score by Tchaikovsky."

Ballet Theatre of Ohio will perform at the Akron Civic Theatre on May 2 and 3. Performances on May 2 are at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and on May 3 at 2 p.m.

Dancing the heroine of the story will be Stow native Jennifer Safonovs as Princess Aurora. Damien Highfield (courtesy of Groundworks) performs the role of her handsome Prince. The Lilac Fairy is portrayed by Mika Takahashi and her evil counterpart, Carabosse, is danced by Kelly Meneer. The Fairies of Beauty and Happiness will be danced by Hannah Smolinski and Joanna Sullivan. The Bluebird pas de deux will be danced by Christina VanBuskirk and Brian Murphy. Other guest artists include Blane Mader and Nigel Tau, courtesy of BalletMet. The ballet is filled with many enchanted forest characters such as Little Red Riding Hood (Haley Boggs) Cinderella (Rachel Rauh), Snow White (Olivia Chan), and the 7 dwarfs.

"Sleeping Beauty" was originally choreographed in 2006 and dedicated to the memory of Paul A. Daum, Ph.D., Meneer said.

"He is the reason we were able to do this ballet, so we dedicate it to his memory," she said.

Safanovs, a longtime professional dancer who danced the role of Aurora in BTO's premiere, said the role can be a challenge.

"I think Aurora is technically the most demanding role," she said. "There is a lot of balancing, especially in the pas de deux. It is all very pure choreography, so there is no room for mistakes. I like the challenge and work at keeping it clean and precise."

Preshow activities

All children will receive a Treasure Map to join "The King's Quest" before the start of the ballet. Upon completing the quest, boys will be knighted and girls will be crowned by King Stefan himself. Doors open one hour prior to the show for this special program.

For ticket information, call 330-253-2488. For details on Ballet Theatre of Ohio, visit http://ballettheatreohio.org online.

Email: ahelms@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9438

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