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Michael Brandy, Deseret News
Paul Murphy, artistic director

Five years ago, Paul Murphy decided to revamp the legend of "The Frog Prince" and stage it for the Mountain West Ballet.

"I was the resident choreographer then," said Murphy, who has been the company's artistic director since 2004. "And I had the idea of the story and wanted to see what we could do with it."

The story veers from the well-known fairy tale in the fact that the princess sees a frog, believes he's a prince and pursues him. The frog, on the other hand, doesn't believe he's a prince, Murphy said. "There's a little twist in the story that makes it our own."

Still, Murphy, former principal dancer with Ballet West, has a knack for adding his own elements to these centuries-old stories. He revised the "Sleeping Beauty" yarn a few years ago.

"When I redid 'Sleeping Beauty,' I was a little nervous," he said. "One reason was because it's a well-known ballet. The other reason is the story.

"But when I redid 'The Frog Prince,' I didn't have any qualms about it. I just wanted to do something, well, different."

In 2003, Murphy did the choreography. This time around, he wanted his staff to look at reworking some of the choreography.

"I have a great team of instructors," Murphy said. "And I opened it up to them to see what they could come up with."

Yvette Atkin, Mountain West Ballet assistant artistic director, was one of the staffers who worked out some new choreography for "The Frog Prince."

"We added a lot of new animals to the production this year," said Atkin before rehearsal last week. "Birds, foxes, squirrels and a new demon king are some of the new characters that fill out the production.

"And it's nice to know that Paul has the confidence in the staff to be able to do this," Atkin said. "We don't see each other every day, but he tells us what needs to be done, and we do it and it all comes together."

"It's exciting to see what is happening. The students are being challenged and the staff is as well," Murphy said. "This is what a ballet company is all about. We need to continue to improve or people will lose interest in us."

Next year will mark the company's 25th anniversary, Murphy said. "We have been keeping our eye on that. We are Sandy city's ballet company. And we want to be here at least another 25 years down the line."


If you go . . .

What: The Frog Prince, Mountain West Ballet

Where: Sandy Amphitheater, 1300 East and 9400 South

When: Thursday through Saturday, 8 p.m.

How much: $12

Phone: 572-6222

Web: www.mountainwestballet.org


E-mail: [email protected]