Principal dancer, Melissa Gelfin, is one of two Cincinnati Ballet dancers who will be portraying the role of Tinkerbell in the upcoming production of Peter Pan. She is excited to dance the role again (the first time was with Cincinnati Ballet in 2014). Here are Melissa’s thoughts about taking on this challenging role once again:
What is it like dancing such an iconic role as Tinkerbell?
I guess what I love most about dancing Tinkerbell is the ability to portray her as my very own version and in a unique way. There are so many wonderful variations of the character, her attitude – which is sometimes feisty and sometimes spritely and flirtatious, or her relationship with Peter. I love getting to become my own version of her.
What’s the biggest challenge in dancing this role?
This role is technically “incredible.” The challenge is maintaining the character of Tinkerbell while executing incredibly difficult entrances and variations.
You’ve danced Tinkerbell before. What did you learn from doing it the first time that you’ll incorporate in the upcoming production?
The first time I danced Tinkerbell, I was brand new to the company. It was my first season, my first big role, and I was not yet in the corps de ballet. I don’t think that I had nearly the knowledge and experience that I do now in terms of understanding my own way to feel comfortable executing very difficult material. I’ll use every experience I’ve had over the last four years to expand on and improve upon how I tackle this role.
What’s your favorite part of the ballet, and why?
My favorite part of the ballet is right before the pirate entrance. The Lost Boys, ragamuffins, Wendy, and Peter are all in a small clumped group on the stage. They hear the pirates, look quickly around and then yell at the top of their lungs…..PIRATESSSSS!
How important is it for the audience to feel the bond that you have with Peter Pan?
This version leaves me a lot of room to play with the bond that Tinkerbell has with Peter. I want this bond to be strong enough to show how much they care about one another, but also to show that Tinkerbell could be more of small hero fairy, saving the day not only Peter, but also for Wendy, John, Michael and the Lost Boys. She’s a fairy hero.
Do you lose yourself in the fantasy of the story and sometimes forget that you’re a dancer portraying the role of Tinkerbell? How does that feel?
I always tend to get lost in a role, or just get caught up in whatever it is I am performing. That’s one of my favorite aspects of being a ballet dancer. I get to be so many different people, characters, and roles. And, I get to experience what it may have been like to be that character, and to experience their moments. It’s incredible, actually.
What do you think the “life lesson” is that people should take away from seeing Peter Pan?
However old you get, don’t ever lose the child in you. Every single one of us was young, without a care in the world, experiencing life as it came to us. These days, I think we forget that.