LUZERNE — Ask Brynn Suda why “Corsiev” is her favorite ballet, and the 16-year-old dancer from Wilkes-Barre breaks into a wide grin.
“I’m a fan of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd,” she said, “and the story’s pretty cool as well.”
Yes, it’s true. The classic rock of Led Zeppelin and the psychedelic music of Pink Floyd join the more traditional sounds of Mozart, Listz and Wagner in the Joan Harris Dancers’ original, fusion production of ballet and modern dance, adding to the atmosphere as a young Princess Anna is kidnapped and her older sister, Princess Joan, braves a frightening forest to rescue her.
Along the way to the sisters’ reunion — if you watch the cast perform “Corsiev” this weekend at the Dallas Performing Arts Center — you’ll see a fierce, good-magic versus evil-magic battle between a sorceress and a grieving queen.
By the way, have you noticed all these characters are female? No Prince Charming is waiting in the wings.
“There are no male leads in the show,” said Caroline Conrad, 18, of Dallas, who has the role of Princess Joan. “It’s really empowering.”
The show, which includes 400 young dancers in three performances, is a collaboration among choreographers Elisabeth and Jennifer Harris, who teach at the Harris Conservatory for the Arts in Luzerne, and their brother-in-law Kenton Harris, who wrote the original version decades ago to honor the family matriarch, Joan Harris.
“Being that it’s original, and it’s ours, you can’t see it anywhere else,” said Jim Harris, another Harris son, who manages the conservatory. “You have one shot to see it every six or seven years.”
The last time the Joan Harris Dancers staged “Corsiev” was six years ago. At the time, Conrad was 12 and portrayed the younger sister, Princess Anna.
Both roles are exciting, she said, especially when ill-intentioned wraiths enter the bedroom the sisters share.
“They’re so good at acting evil,” Conrad said of the young women who portray the wraiths, and they succeed in spiriting away Princess Anna — but not before Princess Joan puts up a fight.
“They’re tugging us apart,” Conrad said, explaining her part of the dance/fight involves “a lot of leaps and tour jetes” plus a great deal of emotion.
“I don’t know if I could be that brave in real life,” she said. “Princess Joan is on a whole other level.”
Princess Joan gets some help from “good spirits” who present her with a magic cloak, magic dust, a lantern and an extra dose of courage. But after she sets out to find her sister, she meets wanderers, peddlers and gypsies who pretend to be friendly — but aren’t.
“I actually steal Princess Joan’s lantern when she’s doing something else,” said Julia Macey, 15, of Dallas, who portrays a wanderer.
Then there’s a lead gypsy who uses tarot cards to tell Princess Joan’s fortune. “I think it might be a little deceiving,” said Caitlyn Berrini, 18, of Larksville, who is part of the gypsy band.
As for the peddlers, one of them slips Princess Joan a poisoned pear that adds another wrinkle to the rescue attempt.
Toxic fruit notwithstanding, the characters find their way to a happy ending, with even a touch of kindness extended to the troubled and troublesome queen who had been collecting kidnapped children in an attempt to replace a daughter she lost.
“She (Princess Anna) puts herself in Queen Clava’s situation,” said Eliana Pileggi, 12, of Swoyersville, who portrays Anna. “She feels sorry for her so she says she’ll visit her.”
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.