A different kind of live action “Jungle Book”

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On the heels of three sold out performances at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Ballet II (PBII) will take audiences on a magical journey in their upcoming performances of “The Jungle Book” at 11 a.m. April 9 at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center in Drexel Hill.

Based on Rudyard Kipling’s collection of stories from 1894, “The Jungle Book” uses dancers portraying animals to teach moral lessons while showcasing different customs and lifestyles around the world.

“Pennsylvania Ballet performs ‘The Nutcracker’ every year and we’ve seen an amazing turnout of families,” said PBII Director and Pennsylvania Ballet Principal Dancer Francis Veyette. “We wanted to create another opportunity during the year for more children within the region to experience ballet first-hand and ‘The Jungle Book’ was the perfect way to do it.”

Pennsylvania Ballet II Artists in Colby Damon’s "The Jungle Book." Photo By Alexander Iziliaev

Pennsylvania Ballet II Artists in Colby Damon’s “The Jungle Book.” Photo By Alexander Iziliaev

Veyette brought together a unique group of talented Philadelphia artists to recreate this childhood classic. Choreographer Colby Damon collaborated with composer John B. Hedges from The Curtis Institute; costume designer Rebecca Kanach; set designer Sebastienne Mundheim and up-and-coming dancers from Pennsylvania Ballet’s second company. Through their work, the ballet brings to life the one-of-a-kind story of a young boy named Mowgli who learns life lessons from the world and creatures around him.

“Everything has been crafted to uniquely fit this new production exclusive to PBII, including the sets, music, costumes, text and choreography,” said Damon. “It was truly a rewarding experience to rework such an iconic story into a ballet using some of Philadelphia’s best talent in many fields of the performing arts, including the rising talent at Pennsylvania Ballet II. We are all very proud of the heart and soul we have put into this production, and we’re looking forward to sharing it with the surrounding Philadelphia community.”

Pennsylvania Ballet II is a trainee program for young professional dancers. The “second company” dancers receive intense daily instruction with Veyette and other members of Pennsylvania Ballet’s artistic staff, as well as rehearse and perform in Pennsylvania Ballet’s larger productions.

Tickets are available at www.paballet.org/jungle-book or by phone at (215) 893-1999.

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