The First State Ballet Theatre is based in Wilmington, but that doesn't mean the group won't take flight to other parts of the state.

The First State Ballet Theatre is based in Wilmington, but that doesn't mean the group won't take flight to other parts of the state.

As a matter of fact, FSBT will have performed in all three of the state's counties for its 2013-14 season before winter strikes.

FSBT, the Small Wonder's only professional ballet troupe, will bless Kent County this afternoon with its production of "Swan Lake" at the Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover.

To localize the show, FSBT will include Dover Dance Conservatory's advanced dancers in Act Two of "Swan Lake." It's a strategy purposed to benefit both ballet companies as DDC's dancers will get the opportunity to perform in a professional theater production, while FSBT hopes the local dancers will lure their friends and family to see the show.

"Whenever we perform outside of Wilmington, if there's a local ballet school, we collaborate with them," said Robert Grenfell, president and executive director of First State Ballet Theatre. "It's another way of generating interest into our shared art form."

Love's the key

By day, Princess Odette (Mary Kate Reynolds) assumes the appearance of a swan. But by night, she's able to transform into her human form. Cursed by the evil sorcerer, Von Rothbart (Alex Buckner), and made to live by a lake, the only way Odette's spell can be broken is if a man falls in love with her.

'Beautiful choreography'

Sunday's production of "Swan Lake" will mark FSBT's second time presenting the show since it debuted in 2010 at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, the same venue where the ballet company is based.

One of the interesting things about FSBT's "Swan Lake" is its choreography sticks closely to the original framework that Victor Marius Alphonse Petipa arranged for the production in the late 19th century. Over the years, some ballet companies have modernized the dancing in "Swan Lake." But updating the show's footwork doesn't suit Pasha Kambalov, the co-founder of FSBT and artist director for "Swan Lake."

Kambalov, a decorated Russian-born dancer who graduated from the world-renowned Vaganova Ballet Academy in his Russia, admires Petipa's arrangements because it's "beautiful choreography," which has long been "successful on any continent."

Preserving Petipa's choreography helps FSBT's performers to capture the grandeur and drama that he envisioned for the production.

"We want to be pretty true to Petipa's intent," said Grenfell. "We're trying to be faithful to the 19th century ideal of beauty, passion, power and grace."

To achieve this, lots of attention was given to all aspects of the show and particularly to the cast's Russian costumes.

The dancer Buckner feels quite menacing when dressed in his all black attire, which includes a tunic with wings and a gypsy-like skullcap. Buckner wears a minimum of five coats of makeup that includes ominous red eyeliner and morbid purple-grey lipstick. Rothbart is a stark contrast from the upbeat Court Jester, who Buckner played in FSBT's production in 2010.

"I like being a powerful character this time, and giving people death stares" said the 24-year-old Buckner, of Wilmington. "I'm not sure which character I enjoy more, but I'm definitely having a great time being an evil character" and "I'm hoping to look into the audience and scare people."


WHAT First State Ballet Theatre presents "Swan Lake"

WHEN 3 p.m., Sunday

WHERE Schwartz Center for the Arts, 226 S. State St., Dover

COST $24 for adults; $20 for senior/military; $14 for children (18 and younger)

INFO Visit or call 678-3583