The animals in Carolina Ballet Theatre’s “Jungle Book” have a message for humans: Protect Mother Earth!
The ballet, running March 6-7 at the Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre, is based on Rudyard Kipling’s classic series of short stories and several of the popular “Jungle Book” film adaptations.
As choreographed by Hernan Justo, CBT’s artistic director, the story follows Mowgli, a baby abandoned in the jungles of India and raised by wolves. As Mowgli grows, he sets out on a journey to the human village, acting as an ambassador for the animals.
The animals are concerned about humans recklessly using fire in the jungle. Part of the story also involves humans engaging in irresponsible mining.
“Mowgli is a hero who protects the environment,” Justo said. “The idea is that nature, the animals and humans can live together. In all my ballets, people forgive and everything turns out well.”
For the whole family
The fanciful ballet for the whole family also features familiar characters associated with Kipling’s book or the film adaptations, such as Bagheera the Panther, Baloo the Bear and Kaa the Snake.
Along his journey, Mowgli also will find time to fall in love with Shanti, a beautiful human girl.
Justo first choregraphed “The Jungle Book” in 2015. This production, a revised version of the ballet, features about 50 dancers in an array of dance styles: not only classical ballet but some aerial work and tap dance.
“All the animals have a big tap number,” Justo said. “Last time, the tap number was the favorite part of the ballet for many people.”
“The Jungle Book” spotlights several of CBT’s professional dancers and guest artists as well as a few dozen students from the CBT dance school.
The ballet is set to an eclectic score that includes music by Leo Delibes, Camille Saint-Saens and Jules Massenet, and contemporary composers Derek Bermel and David Biendenbender. Soprano Rebecca Payne will narrate and sing two songs, including “Love to Me” from the musical “Light in the Piazza.”
Paul Hyde, a longtime Upstate journalist, writes about the arts for the Greenville Journal. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.
If you go
What: Carolina Ballet Theatre’s “The Jungle Book Ballet Returns.”
When: 7 p.m. March 6; 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. March 7
Where: Peace Center Gunter Theatre
Tickets: $35 ($10 educational program at 9:45 a.m. March 6)
Info: 864-467-3000 or www.peacecenter.org
Welcome to the Jungle
- “The Jungle Book,” first published in 1894, is a collection of stories by the English writer Rudyard Kipling.
- Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” has been adapted for film several times, including at least twice for critically acclaimed movie versions by Disney in 1967 and 2016.
Photo by Sheryl Renee