Hamlet's Leading Players
By Michelle Martin, Associate Artistic Director
For this year’s production of Hamlet we have double-cast the roles of Hamlet (Frank Shott and Paul Michael Bloodgood), Hamlet’s tragic love interest, Ophelia (Ashley Lynn and Anne Marie Melendez), and Gertrude, Hamlet’s passionate mother, (Allisyn Paino and Aara Krumpe). Having two dancers learn and perform these roles is valuable in that it provides artistic opportunity for more dancers and allows security for the production in case a dancer is injured or sick. For Paul, Ashley and Aara, this production marks an opportunity to perform roles that they understudied, but did not perform, during Ballet Austin’s 2004 presentation of the work. Frank has performed in Hamlet twice before, having created the role of Laertes, Hamlet’s brother, in the original cast, and now moving into the title role of Hamlet.
In casting a narrative ballet like Hamlet, there are many things that need to be considered. Most significantly, the ballet requires the dancers to both tell a story and express the essential personality traits and emotions of their character, all through the physicality of their movement. This means that, beyond being a good actor, dancers selected for critical principal roles must have a physicality or movement style that suits the character and the character’s choreography. All of the dancers cast as principal characters in this season’s Hamlet are senior artists who have gained a strong understanding of their dance technique and are now able to manipulate that technique to become a narrative tool for the choreography.
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