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Oklahoma City Ballet embarks on exotic adventure with 'Mowgli — The Jungle Book Ballet'

Oklahoma City Ballet will stage the Southwestern premiere of “Mowgli — The Jungle Book Ballet,” a new ballet based on Rudyard Kipling's classic stories, Friday through Oct. 13 at the Civic Center Music Hall.
by Brandy McDonnell Published: October 6, 2013
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/articleid/3890060/1/pictures/2230529">Photo - Oklahoma City Ballet will perform the Southwestern premiere of "Mowgli, The Jungle Book Ballet" Friday through Oct. 13 at the Civic Center Music Hall. Photo provided. <strong>Jon C Meyers</strong>
Oklahoma City Ballet will perform the Southwestern premiere of "Mowgli, The Jungle Book Ballet" Friday through Oct. 13 at the Civic Center Music Hall. Photo provided. Jon C Meyers

The peacock character, Mao, rightly has one of the most elaborate looks, Pimble said, a $2,000 costume with two tails — one for dancing and one for displaying in the bird's signature way — and thousands of rhinestones.

The production features about 50 masks, and all the animal characters wear clothing that reflects their personalities.

“I didn't want to hide the fact that they're dancers, so the look is very different,” Pimble said.

“And I did not want the set to be a literal interpretation. I wanted it to be an artistic rendering.”

Along with designing the set, Emmy winner Gregory Crane devised stunning larger-than-life puppets to represent two of “The Jungle Book's” most iconic characters: the fierce tiger Shere Khan and the giant snake Kaa. It takes two dancers to maneuver the Bengal tiger, while eight performers are needed to bring to life the 50-foot-long python/cobra hybrid.

Indian world fusion

In choosing the music for “Mowgli,” Pimble opted for an Indian world fusion sound she found while scanning iTunes.

“I thought that a classical composition would just not work, so I started looking in New World music. And I found this sitarist, Baluji Shrivastav, and he actually lives in London. And he works with an Irish flutist and an American singer and a percussionist from Cairo,” she said. “Their music is part Indian, but it's also part jazz, so ... it's very accessible, I think, to the audience.”

Mills said he hopes a wide audience will follow “Mowgli” on his Oklahoma City Ballet adventure.

“It's not dumbed down, and at the same time, children will love it. Adults will love it. Ballet lovers will love it because it's packed with a lot of dance. ... But then people who don't know ballet, it's really a theater piece as well,” Mills said.

“It's about making the art form accessible, choosing ballets every once in a while that are accessible across a broad range of ages and interest levels.”

by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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