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Snow men sidelined as Scottish ballet queens take charge

© Allstar/DISNEYElsa and Anna in Disney film, Frozen.
Elsa and Anna in Disney film, Frozen.

Sisters are doing it for themselves in Scottish Ballet’s new version of The Snow Queen – on and off the stage.

Just as Disney smash Frozen plundered Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale for female empowerment inspiration, so too has the prestigious dance company as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations.

In its world premiere ­production of The Snow Queen, beginning in Edinburgh on Saturday, Scottish Ballet takes the unusual step of making all three central characters female.

In doing so, says Bethany Kingsley-Garner, one of the principal dancers, it becomes a story of sisterhood rather than romance.

“Scottish Ballet has always been innovative in our work and has pushed the boundaries,” said Bethany, who has been with the company for 12 years

“Our artistic director, Christopher Hampson, has taken the main points of the traditional story and made it very much a tale of sisterhood, of the three female characters’ journeys.

“There’s always a strong sense of romance because it’s a Christmas ballet, but it’s great to have that stronger side with this sisterhood and the three female characters.

“It’s quite rare to have so many females at the top and just the one male, Kai, who is part of this female triangle.”

In Scottish Ballet’s version of the tale, Bethany’s character, Gerda, becomes engaged to her partner, Kai.

When he suddenly ­disappears, Greta will do anything she can to find him. She is accompanied in her quest by Lexi, a formerly minor character known as Little Robber Girl in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, who also happens to be The Snow Queen’s sister.

Despite comparisons to Frozen, Bethany says Elsa and Anna never once entered their minds.

“Although I do love it, the film has nothing to do with our version,” she said.

The Snow Queen is the ­second of five new ballets being created for Scottish Ballet’s Five in Five Campaign as a legacy for the company’s 50th anniversary year. The first, earlier this year, was The Crucible and next is Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Scandal At Mayerling.

The Snow Queen, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Dec 7-29, and then on tour