The Prince- A Christmas Ballet Production
With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, thoughts turn to holiday festivities. One "must see" event that has been inspiring Edmond residents for ten years is the annual production of "The Prince," a Christian rendition of "The Nutcracker."
Written and choreographed by Katha Bardel, founder and director of A.R.T.S. (Arts Revealing the Son), The Prince is a production of dance, drama, and scripture narration set to a musical score. The hour-and-half long production has a cast of more than 100 performers and is offered free to the public.
Having danced since the age of four, Bardel has been in many Nutcracker productions during her 55 years of dancing. When she was nine years old, she was selected to be Claire in a Nutcracker production with the nationally famous touring company, Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, in Toledo, Ohio. The experience made a lasting impression on her and began a great love for the Nutcracker music.
"I always wanted to incorporate it into the A.R.T.S. repertoire," said Bardel, but the cost of such a major production was prohibitive and her emphasis was toward Christian ministry programs. However, in 1995, she awoke during the night with a God-given idea.
"I felt God saying, 'Katha, here is a Christian version of the Nutcracker,'" said Bardel. She began to write. "Within ten minutes I had the outline and three hours later I had a pretty good beginning."
She also felt God telling her not to worry about costumes and lighting and such but to keep it simple and He would provide.
"Right away, people began calling and offering help," said Bardel. "Someone donated $3,000 for costumes. People gave and bought and within nine months the first production of The Prince was performed." Bardel says that each year The Prince has only gotten bigger and better, just as God promised.
An accomplished dancer and choreographer, Bardel obtained her professional training and experience form the New York City Ballet Company and has taught dance in the metro area for more than 35 years, beginning with a studio in her garage. Over the years she moved to larger studios then eventually left the dance ministry in the hands of her grown, twin daughters and moved to Atlanta.
"I thought I was through," said Bardel. "I was retired and enjoying it." But her retirement was short-lived. Two years later she moved back to Oklahoma.
"Parents of past students kept asking me to teach again," said Bardel, who has always loved to dance. So in 1993, at many requests, she opened the A.R.T.S. studio in Edmond on the campus of Edmond Christian Academy.
A.R.T.S. is a non-profit school of dance and arts ministry with an outreach to the church and community. Classes are offered in ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, tumbling, drama, hip-hop, pom, swing, ballroom, lyrical dance, as well as worship aerobics and worship sign language for ages three years to adult. With 170 students and 10 instructors, A.R.T.S. has enlarged its facility to include three studios on the same campus.
Bardel and her students have performed at the Children's International Dance Festival in China; premiered an original work of Dave Brubeck's La Posada in Mexico City at the Palace of Fine Arts; choreographed and danced in Christmas specials in Branson, Missouri, at the Glenn Campbell Theater and the Sight 'n' Sound Theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Bardel has served as Dance Director for productions at MetroChurch, CityChurch, Cathedral of Praise and Crossings Community Church. She was recently asked to serve on the board of the Oklahoma Alliance for Liturgy & the Arts.
Bardel and her students are available to perform at churches and in the community.
"I don't plan on retiring," said the petite 61-year-old dancer and grandmother of twelve. "I just plan on continuing. I love to dance. It's what God called me to do all my life."
Productions of The Prince are offered free to the public beginning Thanksgiving weekend, November 24th and 25th, with performances at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday along with a 2:00 p.m. matinee on Saturday. Three more performances will be presented the following weekend, Friday and Saturday, December 1st and 2nd with the same time frame. Doors open thirty minutes prior to each performance. A.R.T.S. is located on the campus of Edmond Christian Academy, at 21477 North Western (between Covel and Coffee Creek) in Edmond.
For more information about A.R.T.S. or the production of "The Prince," contact Katha Bardel at 359-9307 or visit the web site at www.artsinok.org.