10 Things You Should Know About Hamlet

By Pei-San Brown, Community Education Director

1. William Shakespeare’s The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is over 400 years old, more than 4,000 words long, and takes over 4 hours to deliver.

William Shakespeare’s The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, 1604

William Shakespeare’s The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, 1604

2. The first ballet version of Hamlet was choreographed by Francesco Clerico in Venice in 1788.

2.Francesco Clerico, 1795

Francesco Clerico, 1795

3. The most famous ballet version of the play in the 1900s was choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska, who also danced the title role in her Hamlet in 1934 at the Paris Opera Ballet.

3.Costume designs by Georges A. de Pogedaieff for the queen, Hamlet, and king in Nijinska’s ballet, 1934. From the Harvard Theatre Collection.

Costume designs by Georges A. de Pogedaieff for the queen, Hamlet, and king in Nijinska’s ballet, 1934. From the Harvard Theatre Collection.

4. Stephen Mills was inspired to choreograph a contemporary ballet version of Hamlet by Franco Zeffirelli’s 1990 movie version of the play.

5. In his version of the ballet, Stephen originated the role of the Ghost in 2000, reprised it in 2009, and will once again dance it in 2015.

The Ghost played by Stephen Mills and Hamlet played by Paul Michael Bloodgood (Photo credit Tony Spielberg)

The Ghost played by Stephen Mills and Hamlet played by Paul Michael Bloodgood (Photo credit Tony Spielberg)

6. Company dancer Frank Shott originated the role of Laertes in Mills’ Hamlet, and is responsible for coaching fellow dancers in the fencing sequences each time the ballet is staged.

Fencing rehearsal (Photo by Anne Marie Bloodgood)

Fencing rehearsal (Photo by Anne Marie Bloodgood)

7. After dancing the role of Laertes in Mills’ Hamlet in 2000 and 2004, Frank was cast in the title role of Hamlet in 2009 and will dance that role again in 2015.

Frank Shott as Hamlet and Johnstuart Winchell as Laertes in Ballet Austin’s Hamlet, 2009. (Photo credit Tony Spielberg)

Frank Shott as Hamlet and Johnstuart Winchell as Laertes in Ballet Austin’s Hamlet, 2009. (Photo credit Tony Spielberg)

8. Frank’s wife, company dancer Jaime Lynn Witts, is dancing the role of Ophelia for the first time in 2015; however, her Hamlet will be fellow company member Paul Michael Bloodgood.

8.Ballet Austin Hamlet rehearsal with Paul Michael Bloodgood as Hamlet and Jaime Lynn Witts as Ophelia, 2015.

Ballet Austin Hamlet rehearsal with Paul Michael Bloodgood as Hamlet and Jaime Lynn Witts as Ophelia, 2015. (Photo by Anne Marie Bloodgood)

9. The first time Paul was cast as Ballet Austin’s Hamlet in 2009, his onstage love, Ophelia, was danced by his wife, Anne Marie Melendez.

9.Real life husband and wife duo Paul Michael Bloodgood and Anne Marie Melendez as the lovers, Hamlet and Ophelia in Ballet Austin’s Hamlet, 2009. (Photo credit Tony Spielberg)

Real life husband and wife duo Paul Michael Bloodgood and Anne Marie Melendez as the lovers, Hamlet and Ophelia in Ballet Austin’s Hamlet, 2009. (Photo credit Tony Spielberg)

10. Ballet Austin’s Hamlet will feature live musical accompaniment by the Austin Symphony Orchestra for the very first time in 2015.

Join us for Hamlet September 4-6!

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Ballet Austin

About Ballet Austin

Ballet Austin is a professional dance company which also offers professional classical ballet training and instruction through the Ballet Austin Academy, which is one of the largest in the U.S. We're committed to providing the highest quality dance instruction to students, and currently the Academy has more than 800 students. Ballet Austin's Butler Center for Dance & Fitness offers classes for all ages and skill levels. And our state-of-the-art Pilates Center is open 7 days a week and gives clients personalized training with one of the top voted instructors in Austin. Dance and fitness workshops are also available, as well as adult workshops and summer kids camps.

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