Photography by Dero Sanford | Special thanks to AFB dancers Mary Clark Allen, Gideon West, Ava Wylie, Keira Eady, Lizzie Clark, Grey Parrish
“Like all art – classical ballet is intended to be shared, loved and enjoyed. We are always considerate and hope to establish a sense of belonging for everyone, encouraging love and respect between each person.”
Under the leadership + vision of Rebecca Miller Stalcup, Arkansas Festival Ballet will welcome guests to Princess & the Frog later this month. This continues the legacy of AFB and showcases the heart of the organization’s mission: cultivating the next generation of accomplished dancers who are talented and thoughtful. “Our goal is simple: high caliber training with a focus on our performers and their progress,” Rebecca explains. “This love of dance and discipline builds character, self-esteem and intellect.” The company has presented more than 20 storybook ballets throughout its two decades of artistry. Rebecca has created and choreographed each one with a pragmatic approach of inclusion that brings the community into every project.
Strategic partnerships with other arts organizations throughout the state strengthen the conversations among constituents who believe in the enrichment that these performances offer fellow Arkansans. “We are fortunate to engage in projects with costume and set designers, visual and graphic artists, photographers, musicians and even composers; all to make our performances special and appealing to a broader audience.” Conway Symphony Orchestra Music Director Izzy Getzov explains, “Music and movement are inextricably linked; to have such a strong artistic partner as Arkansas Festival Ballet allows the Conway Symphony Orchestra to broaden the experience for our audience and maximize the impact we have on our community.” Rebecca adds, “These kind of connections provide insight and inspiration – sparking new ideas and ways to embrace the changing landscape of our world.”
Princess & the Frog is based on the folktale The Frog Prince and the novel The Frog Princess. With music by Arkansas native Florence Price, this original ballet celebrates diversity and the artistry of all talents. Rebecca adds, “Dancers are encouraged to embellish each role with bold personalities to reflect the characters. This interpretation features a colorful staging of choreography that is snappy + sensational.” It’s a part of America’s rich history that Rebecca is inspired to share. “We believe that our young artists take this experience beyond the stage with careful consideration of cultural and social differences that can bring us together rather than divide us.”