Michael Brandy, Deseret News
Sarah Elton (Snow White) rehearses for "Snow White" at the Children's Ballet Theatre studio. Dancing with her are Eliza Johnson, center, and Kate Marberger, who play little birds in the performance.

A little more than 70 years ago, Walt Disney Pictures released the first full-length animated feature, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

The movie was nominated for nine Academy Awards. Disney himself was awarded one large Oscar statue and seven miniature ones at the ceremony for significant screen innovation.

The Grimm Brothers' story and the movie inspired the Children's Ballet Theatre to create an original version of the beloved fairy tale 10 years ago to celebrate the movie's 60th anniversary.

This week, CBT will celebrate the movie's 70th anniversary by reviving its ballet.

"The time just seemed right," said CBT co-director Stacey Orlob-Richins during an interview with the Deseret News. "I had just returned from a trip to Disneyland earlier this year, and they were celebrating the anniversary with displays of the original drawings and concept art of the movie."

While CBT's "Snow White" does not use any of the Disney music, costume design or character interpretations, Orlob-Richins said some dancers in the ballet's cast of 400 were encouraged to watch the movie.

"We even had them watch 'Enchanted' to see how characters can also be used outside of the regular stories," she said.

CBT's "Snow White" is danced to an array of classical music, said Orlob-Richins, who directs the studio with her mother, Julie Orlob. "Dvorak is the main composer we chose for the music."

While the Grimm tale can be dark at times, Orlob-Richins said CBT has managed to find ways to lighten it up a bit for the younger audience members.

"A good story always has some dark elements in it," she said. "But we've managed to tone things down, not by cutting the scary things out, but by character interpretations.

"For example, the wicked queen is not scary because of what she wears, but because she is vain and mean. And when she becomes the peddler woman, which is scary in itself, we have the surrounding dancers who perform the forest animals, showing how scary she is.

"The costumes are beautiful and fairy tale-like, and when the little ones perform as the animals, things aren't as dark as they could be."

Sarah Elton is cast as Snow White and the prince will be danced by Jenny Christensen.

"We opted not to bring a boy into the production this year because in the past they haven't worked out," said Orlob-Richins.

The wicked queen will be performed by Lindsay Chriss, and the wicked queen's alter ego, the peddler woman, will be danced by Barbara Chin.

"We try to emphasize to all the dancers, but especially the younger ones, that this is a performance and not a recital," said Orlob-Richins. "It's not about walking on stage in a line and doing steps. The characters, all of them, including those who are dancing as the forest animals, need to interact with each other."

Teaching character interpretation is important for all the dancers — ages 5 years to 18 years old, said Orlob-Richins.

"Being part of a production is more than dancing," she said. "It's about performance."

If you go . . .

What: Snow White, Children's Ballet Theatre

Where: Kingsbury Hall, University of Utah

When: Tuesday through Friday, 7 p.m.

How much: $12

Phone: 581-7100

Web: www.kingsburyhall.org

E-mail: [email protected]