Charm City Ballet brings dance to 'Aladdin'

When Rebecca Friedman announced that Charm City Ballet's spring production would be "Aladdin," she got a lot of surprised looks.

"A lot of people said 'I didn't know 'Aladdin' was a ballet,'" Friedman chuckled. "That's because it's not, not yet."

For Friedman and Peter Commander, putting together an original production is not new. As co-founders, directors and choreographers of Charm City Ballet, the two presented their own production of "A Christmas Carol" in December 2015 and for their first spring show in 2016, an original production of "Beauty and the Beast."

"We thought 'Aladdin' would be a good one to try," Friedman said. "It has been a challenge telling the story without words and on stage. Even harder than last year's 'Beauty and the Beast.'"

On June 10, at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m, Charm City Ballet will present "Aladdin" at the Gordon Center for the Performing Arts in Owings Mills.

A Howard County native, Friedman and Commander are both 2009 graduates of Goucher College, where they were "heavily involved in the dance program," according to Friedman. Both have since taught dance and performed, but felt the desire to do somthing else, she said.

"We kept reaching for something more," Friedman said. "We were hoping to bring something to the area not always around."

In 2015, they formed Charm City Ballet, a performance company that presents two productions a year. Auditions are open to everyone. It is not a school of dance.

"There is a large group of dancers that don't have an outlet for a professional performance," Friedman said. "We give them an opportunity to dance in a professional setting. We bring together a wide range of dancers."

After studying the movie "Aladdin" repeatedly and trimming the story down, Friedman and Commander choreographed and scored the show. Auditions were held and once the cast of 86 dancers was in place, rehearsals began every Sunday.

"We do it all," Friedman said. "We have a great group of volunteers that help run the show smoothly."

Charm City Ballet does not have a permanent location and Sunday rehearsals are held at a studio in Cockeysville. Dancers travel from Pennsylvania, Howard, Anne Arundel and Harford counties to participate.

"It is so rewarding," Friedman said. "It seems to be working. As we continue to grow, we hope to have more outside help with the non-dancing elements."

Charm City Ballet presents the original full-length ballet "Aladdin" on June 10 at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts, 3506 Gwynbrook Ave., Owings Mills. Tickets are $24 in advance; $26 at the door; students/children are $18 in advance; $20 at the door.

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