For its spring production, the Midland Festival Ballet will be treating its audience to a world premiere of “Aladdin and the Magic Carpet.”

Audience members will witness a dynamic spectacle, which will be unlike anything MFB has performed before as West Texans will be the first to see the characters and story they know and love told in a whole new way which will feature movement, light and color paired with the drama of live orchestral accompaniment.

“It’s really exciting,” MFB Executive Director Rachel Ritter said. “It’s a brand new ballet world premiere that we’re doing. It’s the biggest production that we’ve taken on to date. It’s really exciting.”

The Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center.

The show is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. April 16 at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center.

This will be the first full length ballet that MFB has created.

“This is brand new and we’re the first people to do it and we’re really excited about it,” Ritter said.

The choreography and concept was created by Jill Bahr.

“I think it’s really special that the choreographer trusts us with her vision and trusts us to bring that to life here in the Permian Basin and trusts our dancers throughout this process,” Ritter said. “It’s been a lot of new things for us and we’re working with a lot of really talented artist and technical people to pull this off that aren’t from around here so I think just the fact that she trusts us to create this work and present her vision to our community is wonderful and I think it’s wonderful and for our dancers, it’s a unique experience that they can take forward with them in their future dance careers and their life.”

The Midland-Odessa Symphony and Chorale will provide the music with Kansas City Ballet Music Instructor Ramona Pansegrau conducting, who also compiled, edited and arranged the music.

“She created the score specifically for this ballet,” Ritter said. “The score is beautiful. It adds a lot to the production to have live music. It’s going to be a great combination of classical ballet, new projection and great technical stuff and beautiful music.”

MFB Communications Director Pearl Wamsley described this production as a “learning experience.”

“We just thought this was a great idea,” Wamsley said. “We thought this year would be a fun time to try something very new because we’ve never created a full-length ballet before so we decided to go for it. It’s been a long and very involved process but it’s been really fun and a great learning experience for sure.

In the past, the MFB has done full-length ballets that have already been created but not ones that are brand new such as this show and trying to teach the dancers the show has been a challenge.

“We’ve learned a lot along the way,” Wamsley said. “What we’re accustomed to doing when… our dancers have learned ballets that they themselves haven’t done before but we either bring in a professional dancer that has performed that ballet before and can help teach it to them or sometime the original choreographer can come in and reset the ballet or something like that. The full length ballets are usually ballets that have already been done by someone else, new to us but not new to the world. But what we have done is brand new shorter works, anywhere from 12-20 minutes long. We have done brand new pieces that are in that range but this is the first, full length, two acts, live music ballet that we’ve ever done.”

Not only that, but the show will also include flying dancers and digital projections as the backdrop.

“That part has been really interesting,” Ritter said. “We’ve been working with some great people and wonderful professionals, especially with the flying who are used to doing this. That part of it has been really an eye-opening experience to see what goes into a big production like this. And then, working with the projections, we’re so used to working with regular sets and props that we’re excited this is the wave of the future.”


Unsurprisingly, Aladdin and the Magic Carpet is the largest collaborative project the MFB has ever undertaken.

“It means a lot of collaboration and coordination,” Wamsley said. “Not just from the staff here. We’ve had to work with the choreographer. We’ve had to coordinate with Pansegrau who created the score. She looks through hundreds of symphonies and musical compositions in order to find bits of music and arrange them in a way that works that can tell the story of Aladdin. That’s a huge undertaking.”

Not to mention, getting all the costumes ready.

“We’ve had to search high and low for costumes,” Wamsley said. “Some of them have been rented from other ballet companies. Others, we have purchased and making sure they all go together.”

Getting the digital projections right has also been another collaborative effort.

“This will be the first time that we’ve used digitally projected backdrops so some of the backdrops might move or help with some transitions of scenes,” Wamsley said. “Instead of waiting for a drop to drop in, literally, the backdrop will move and be animated and creative in so many ways. That’ll be new and fun but that’s another person we’ve had to coordinate with. Not only have we had to work with a coordinator to create the backdrop and the design but also the setup involved.”

Using an elaborate pulley system will help the character playing the Genie fly as well as the other flying dancers.

“There’s a huge amount of setup for this production,” Wamsley said. “We also have flying dancers so that’s another first. The genie will fly. The carpet will fly. That is another technical setup that we’re working with. I’m excited to see that technical setup because it’ll be very intense and cool at the same time.”

Guest artist Michael Rodriguez will be playing the role of Aladdin.

About 40 dancers will be involved with the production.

While the production has been a lot of work, there’s a lot of excitement around the MFB about what the final product will look like when it hits the stage.

“It’s going to be really new for us and new for some members of the audience but I’m excited to see it,” Ritter said. “We’ve never done something like this. This has been a learning experience and a fun experience. It’s helping us grow as an organization and in the future, we’re hoping to present bigger and better things to the community.”

If you go

  • What: Aladdin and the Magic Carpet.
  • When: 7:30 p.m. April 16.
  • Where: Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center.
  • Where to buy tickets: