Growing up, Disney’s classic Aladdin is everything you could wish for and more! In case you’ve missed the big news, The Deanna School of Dancing is proud to introduce their ballet adaptation of the world famous Aladdin this May 31st till 3rd June 2019 at 4 p.m onwards. The classic hit movie, which will be brought to life in stages of Bishop’s College Auditorium, produced and choreographed by Natalie & Natasha Jayasuriya. Get your tickets now, if you haven’t done so already.
We met with the principal of Deanna School of Dancing, Natasha Jayasuriya and the cast and chatted about this ballet adaptation. Here’s what they had to share on what the audience can look forward to on the day of the show.
Let’s dive right in conversation first with Natasha,
How are you feeling about the preparations for the upcoming night?
In preparations wise, we were very lucky, we were able to finish of all the major dances last month. Choreography wise, most of it was done over a month ago. Some of the children have been working on this since January. However, it’s been a lot of work to put a production like this, especially because we have children in different ages, from different types of schools and trying to get them into rehearsals is very difficult when each of them has their own schedules in their own individual schools.
What would you say to all the Aladdin fanatics out there about this ballet concert adaptation?
What I would say is that this gives a little more than what’s in the cartoon and on the Broadway musical because we have to create something more original using parts of the old story and create our own version with ballet. For example, in the cave of wonders scene, we have gems that are alive whereas in the movie or the musical, it would be just part of the props. We’ve adapted it in a way that’s very different and I think it’s very exciting for the children to watch. There’s a different part of it which we have created in our own way.
What do you think might surprise people the most about this ballet adaptation?
It’s our students! Over the years my mother (Deanna Jayasuriya) including myself and my sister, we’ve all been there and we have worked with these children whom I have known since they were 2 years old and every year when doing a performance their standards have got so much better. I was a Gem when we did Aladdin when we were small and to see the standards now in comparison to then I’m really proud of the girls and what they have achieved.
With the remake of Aladdin screening in theatres soon, tell me in your opinion, why do you think people should choose a night out at your version of Aladdin?
One because this is our own children. In supporting Sri Lanka, supporting the children here who have been coming to practices especially during a very unfortunate time. Taking the risk to be here for practices, having their heart in it thinking they need something better right now and look forward to and that’s the reason we are continuing with this show. As hard as it is for us to get up in the morning and think of everything that’s happening right now, we’re all using this as a platform to see that we have something positive to look forward to and these are our students who have been working so hard, we don’t want to disappoint them as well, with everything else they are disappointed with at the moment. It would lovely for the audience to come and support that.
Finally, call out by name, what kind of person is going to love this show?
I think MANY types of people are going to love this show! From the little child who is dreaming of fantasy to the older individuals who appreciate art and dance will love this show because of the talents that will be on display. Anybody who fancies for arts and the theatre will love this because we are doing so much with lighting and projection and backdrops. I think anybody would enjoy it, even though they say “Men don’t like ballet” I think they will because this has a nice modern twist to it and it has got these lovely Arabian dancers which my sister’s choreography skills are highlighted. Even the music that we’ve chosen, most of it are upbeat which I’m sure they will enjoy.
Since the present situation in the country is a national concern, what security measures have you’ll taken in respect for this event?
We are concerned everyday and we got the air force, police and a private security company and also the auditorium has their own security measures in place and they are very strict about it. The audience needs to be early, which usually we open the doors 15 minutes before but currently, we’ve decided to open the doors 01 hour before we request the audience to comply with security checks.
Moving on to the cast, we met up with the first set of the trio, who is Aladdin played by 16 year old Inara de Silva, Jasmine played by 16 year old Shanaya Pereira, Abu played by 10 year old Ariyanna Gunasekera who will be performing on the opening night.
When did you first perform?
Inara (Aladdin): I was 2 and a half when I joined Deanna and my first performance was either Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast. Growing up I have also been in productions such as La Bayadere, Switch and Alice in Wonderland. It’s been a rollercoaster ride and we are one big family in Deanna.
Shanaya (Jasmine): I joined Deanna when I was 2 and a half as well, and I have been in every concert of Deanna since.
Ariyanna (Abu): I joined Deanna when I was 3 and a half and my first performance was in “Peter and the Wolf” where I played the flower.
Tell us about the role you have been rehearsing – what are the best bits and the challenges?
Inara (Aladdin): I was cast second along with my Jasmine (Shanaya ) after the first cast was picked. Since we were taken one month after the first cast was taken, learning whatever they have done in that 01 month was very difficult. But we all stuck together and we learnt it really fast. Our choreographers helped us and they’ve been pillars to us, they’ve thought us a lot not just in dancing but throughout life. We met so different people here and made so many different friends.
Shanaya (Jasmine): The best part is I get to perform with my friends. Performing as Jasmine I have to do so much of hard moves, which I managed to overcome with the help of Aunty Deanna and Natasha.
Ariyanna (Abu): It’s a little difficult, Abu is not human and I need to act more like a monkey which is really not my personality. But the best part of this is I get to jump on Inara’s back a lot!
Without giving anything away, what’s your favourite part of the play?
Inara (Aladdin): The last song “A whole new world”
Ariyanna (Abu): The cave of wonders scene
What are your future career plans and aspirations?
Inara (Aladdin): Once I finish my A/L’s I want to finish dancing here. Dancing is life for me and I hope to pursue in the lines of a professional dancer.
Shanaya (Jasmine): I don’t have a goal as yet but I love ballet and I want to complete it.
Ariyanna (Abu): I would like to be a professional ballet dancer or an actor.
Besides this one, what’s your favourite stage show?
Inara (Aladdin): Switch which was done by Deanna in 2014
Shanaya (Jasmine): Alice In Wonderland produced by Deanna
Ariyanna (Abu): The magic toy shop for sure!
Tickets for the show are now on sale at the Deanna School of Dancing, which is located at 30/63H Longden Place, Colombo 7. Tickets are priced at LKR 3500, LKR 3000, LKR 2500, LKR 2500, Balcony LKR 1000).
Pics: Kushan Pathiraja