Alabama Dance Exchange

Huntsville Ballet combines the beauty of ballet with the magic of flight

A first for the Rocket City, Huntsville Ballet combines the beauty of ballet with the magic of flight in an original production of Peter Pan.
Huntsville Ballet Company (HBC) Artistic Director Phillip Otto has applied original choreography and staging to Peter Pan. The added challenge and excitement of flying his cast makes this a bold undertaking for this small professional ballet company. Principal Dancers Sarah Pautz and Jayson Pescasio play the roles of Wendy and Peter Pan and will do much of the flying in the Von Braun Center Concert Hall on April 9 and 10. HBC’s Stage Manager Melissa Jones and her crew will team with Hall Associates Flying Effects who will train the HBC team on the rigging equipment to ensure the safety of the dancers.
Every aspect of the performance is challenged by the addition of flight rigging. Costuming, choreography, and staging must work in concert to make what the audience sees seamless. The undertaking is no small one. Mr. Otto has set his interpretation with his own choreography and Peter Pan marks the first time flying characters in a ballet in Huntsville. This exciting endeavor raises the cost of the production by a sizable amount, but the challenge is an exciting one for the artistic staff as they adapt this beautiful story.
This beloved tale melds childhood adventure with the poignant inevitability of growing up. HBC’s original interpretation is inspired by Mr. Otto’s love for the story and he jokes, “It’s also in part because I never grew up.” That aside, the staging and choreography he has created tell a tale that is more than a two-dimensional children’s story. All the elements remain with fun for the whole family, but Peter Pan becomes a serious work that features the talents and acting strengths of Ms. Pautz and Mr. Pescasio to perfection. Both dancers are delighted to have a chance to dance these roles. Peter Pan is a favorite childhood character of Mr. Pescasio and he loves the idea of “bringing to life the playfulness of Peter and just how much he (Peter) loves adventures.” Of her character, Ms. Pautz shares, “Wendy has this balance of childlike innocence and wisdom. Deep down she is responsible and more mature than she wants to admit, but she's holding onto childhood. The progression of this story forces her hand...I'm trying to get all of that across.”
Undertaking a production of this size is a big step for a small ballet company, but the HBC is putting itself on the map lately. In 2015, the addition of seasoned professionals Pautz and Pescasio hearkened a new era for the HBC and the art of ballet in the Tennessee Valley.
Peter Pan runs for three performances on April 9 and 10 at the Mark C. Smith Concert Hall of the Von Braun Center. Ticket prices range from $28 to $22. Purchase tickets at or by calling 256-539-0961, at Ticketmaster, the VBC Box Office, or in person at 800 Regal Dr.
Peter Pan Adventure The Women’s Guild of the Huntsville Ballet invites children of all ages to a Neverland-themed adventure before the 2p.m. matinee of Peter Pan on April 9. Photo opportunities, light snacks, a treasure hunt and a chance to meet HBC dancers on the stage of the Mark C. Smith Concert Hall of the VBC before the show are part of the fun. Tickets are $15 each and package options are available. Find out more

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