New York City Ballet luminary Allegra Kent’s delightful children’s book, Ballerina Swan, was a hit with fans and critics when it came out last year. Now the tale of Sophie, a swan who dreams of becoming a ballerina, is coming to the New York City stage. Making Books Sing’s production of Ballerina Swan opens November 9 at Theater 3 on 43rd St—and it features Edward Villella as the voice of Mr. Balletski, the choreographer who gives Sophie a chance. Pointe spoke with Kent about her book’s new incarnation.
How did Ballerina Swan become a play?
Barbara Krieger, the director of Making Books Sing, loved the book, and was inspired to recreate it onstage. This version will be sung and danced, and Sophie is going to be a puppet. I’m wildly excited about it—I mean, I get wildly excited very easily, but this is special!
How does Sophie the puppet work?
She has wings and a long, long neck—she’s larger than a real swan, and very expressive. A dancer stands behind her, and she does the dance movements, and Sophie dances along with her. I’m so looking forward to seeing Sophie flapping and flying onstage.
Why did you think of Edward Villella as Mr. Balletski?
Well, Mr. Balletski is actually supposed to be Mr. Balanchine, and Edward of course worked with the real Mr. Balletski for decades, as did I. Edward has a real ear for recreating Balanchine’s voice, too.
Are you thinking of doing a sequel to Ballerina Swan?
Perhaps. Right now I have another children’s book in mind. It would follow a day in the life of a ballerina getting ready for the stage: her alarm clock rings, she packs her dance bag, she goes to the stage door, she goes up to her dressing room, she takes class, she goes for a costume fitting—everything of that nature. But Sophie may make another appearance, though not immediately.