Katie Young never knew that being a peasant could be so much fun.
"It's pretty cool, actually," said the 14-year-old Millersville resident, who along with 15 other young ballet students, will be village peasants next month in the Ballet Theatre of Annapolis' premiere of "Beauty and the Beast."
The group will perform in the ballet's first act, set in the village. They will wear pink costumes and heeled shoes as they perform a Maypole folk dance, twisting ribbons around a tree.
"It's a fun dance," Katie said. "It's open to interpretation. You can put something into the character."
In the ballet, Beauty is the youngest and favorite daughter of a merchant who sets out on a journey. Unlike her two greedy sisters, Beauty asks her father only to bring back a rose. On his return, the merchant plucks one from the garden of a seemingly uninhabited castle, home to the Beast.
The Beast threatens Beauty's father with death for the theft, but Beauty gives herself as a sacrifice and goes to live with the beast, with whom she falls in love. When Beauty decides to marry the Beast, she discovers he is actually a handsome prince.
Although the tale has been told in many ways and been made into a Disney movie, artistic director Edward Stewart said his presentation is loosely based on the French version of the classical ballet.
"People won't see any dancing candlesticks," he said.
The two-hour performance will cost the nonprofit organization about $30,000, Mr. Stewart said. That includes the cost of about 150 costumes "designed and made by seamstresses," he said.
The students, many of whom are from the Ballet Theatre of Annapolis' school, were chosen after a follow-the-leader style audition in January. "I would show them the steps and see if they could pick up the steps," Mr. Stewart said, adding that the performance will give the students great exposure.
"It's a great opportunity to have these advanced students perform with a professional company," he said.
Monica Anselm, 14, of Arnold agrees. "I like dancing with all the other girls and learning about character," she said. The music's pace makes the dance a little difficult, she said, but "most of it is pretty easy."
Amanda Tudor, 11, is upholding a family tradition.
"I just really enjoy it when my grandma comes to see it because she used to dance too," she said.
Performances will be at 7 p.m. April 8 and at 3 p.m. April 9 at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis.
Tickets are $16 for adults and $10 for children.
For more information, call 263-2909