’Snow Queen’ Marks Almost Three Decades in the Desert

Posted By on November 29, 2017

Photo by Tim Fuller

Before there was Disney’s “Frozen,” there was Snow Queen — the popular Hans Christian Anderson story the beloved movie was based on.
It’s a story Center Dance Ensemble has been enchanting Valley theater enthusiasts with for nearly 30 years — imagined and choreographed by Frances Smith Cohen after one of her dancers reminded her of the perfect snow queen.
“I try to keep the thread of the Hans Christian Anderson story, but make it a dance,” Cohen said. “It’s so cute.”
What began as a 20-minute dance adaptation of the story has become a full performance and holiday tradition for many Arizona families.
“I started adding scenes and it was bizarre because it got more adventurous for Gerta, then I started adding children because I thought ‘Well the Nutcracker does it, why couldn’t we?’ so our village had little village children,” Cohen said of the production’s evolution.
For many, the tradition extends beyond just simply viewing the performance with many young dancers taking on a role in the production. This year, Center Dance Ensemble is welcoming their largest group of young dancers yet with 180 children performing over three weekends.
“It becomes their tradition,” Cohen said. “I have grandchildren of some of the children who have danced with me coming to see the performance.”
It’s a tradition for many of the performers as well — with dancers staying involved for years — playing the same leading characters and even working their way up from small parts to starring roles.
While the tradition of the production is undeniable, Cohen also hopes to instill a new feeling of magic and a love for theater in the children seeing the production for the very first time.
“It’s the magic of dance and the magic of theater,” she said. “If we do our job and we do it well and our dancers are acting dancers, they’re actors and actresses, and if they do their job well and my tech people are right on it we can create magic for them.”
To purchase tickets, click here.
Performances begin December 2 and conclude December 17.
Jamie Killin

About Jamie Killin

Jamie Killin is the web editor for Frontdoors Media. She also is a freelance journalist who has been published in Thrillist, Phoenix Magazine, So Scottsdale!, The Arizona Republic and more.
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