Every year, Astoria School of Ballet excitedly waits to share a new performance with more than 2,000 students in the area.
Because of coronavirus pandemic restrictions, something new is afoot for the school, specially curated for the Astoria Art Walk on Saturday. Students will have a chance to see Astoria School of Ballet’s annual show — but in an unexpected, fun way.
“We’re doing things differently,” said Margaret Wall, the owner of Astoria School of Ballet. “The schools have been offering students what they call ‘engagement activities’ for students outside of class time. We’ve planned an engagement activity for the whole community … during art walk, we’ll be hosting a scavenger hunt downtown, for students, families, and any and all that want to participate.”
Astoria School of Ballet will have characters from its ballet, “La Boutique fantasque,” — which translates to “The Fantastic Toyshop” — posed in various storefront windows downtown.
Participants will get a map with clues, collect stickers when they find a character and compete to win small prizes. Following the hunt, Astoria School of Ballet will reveal a sneak peak of a video of a recent live performance the school did at the Liberty Theatre. Later that evening, the prerecorded virtual performance of the ballet can be viewed safely and comfortably from home, Wall said.
“This is a Liberty Theatre and community-sponsored event,” Wall said. “We are only able to put it on with the support of the Liberty and our wonderful community.”
Access to the link and show will be free for everyone. Donations will be accepted.
“We really didn’t want people to forget about ASB and we didn’t want the schools to forget about the opportunity,” Wall said. “We’re just really excited that we came up with this idea of a way to get people downtown and something for free that they can win prizes out potentially and still be exposed for free to the arts and ballet.”
This is one of the few times the Liberty Theatre has opened its doors since the pandemic shutdown, another thing to celebrate at art walk, Wall said.
The Astoria School of Ballet opened its doors on the second floor of the Liberty Theatre after Wall and her husband moved from the Midwest.
“We knew we wanted to move out west and be by water and mountains,” she said. “We picked out a map, found a studio online and we pretty much packed up. We were young and naïve and brave. We moved across the country and started up a ballet focused dance studio. It seems crazy to me now that we did that but we didn’t have much to lose.”
“La Boutique fantastque,” showcases music composed by Ottorino Respighi, which first premiered in 1919. Wall performed in the ballet when she was a student herself, she said.
“The ballet itself is really kid and family friendly,” Wall said. “People will recognize the characters because they are all storybook characters — Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, Little Bo Peep, Red Riding Hood … You don’t need to be knowledgeable about ballet or classical music to enjoy it.”
Prizes are gifted by Street 14 Cafe, Gaetano’s Market & Deli, Los Andes Shop, BerhoBros LLC, Sparrow Dance Co. and Clatsop Economic Development Resources. They include gift certificates for businesses like Frite & Scoop, Gimre’s Shoes, M&N Workwear and Lucy’s Books.
“It is a joyful ballet,” Wall said. “I think it is a great, free way to be exposed to the performing arts, and to be able to have fun with the scavenger hunt.”