Review: ‘Aladdin and His Magic Lamp’ at Hope Garden Children’s Ballet Theatre

Aladdin and the Magic of Dance

On June 4, 2016, in the Poolesville High School auditorium, Hope Garden Children’s Ballet Theatre staged a production of original ballet, Aladdin and His Magic Lamp. This was no Disney’s Aladdin. Artistic Director Fran Ichijo created an entirely new ballet with nods to the past classics.

Aladdin (John Foster) and Jasmine (Brittany Wright).
Aladdin (John Foster) and Genie (Danielle Creedon). Photo by Paolo Galli of the Kirov Ballet.

The ballet opened with original choreography by Ichijo that incorporated all the levels of students of the Hope Garden Ballet Academy. For those who know the true story of Aladdin from One Thousand and One Nights (also known as Arabian Nights), there’s more to Aladdin than just a magic lamp and a blue genie—there’s also a magic ring and its genie. Was there magic on the stage? You bet there was, and it was cleverly choreographed, to be sure.

Besides the inherent magic of ballet, a flying carpet transported genies and Aladdin (not at one time)—a flying carpet in the form of a hoverboard. The grace and fluidity of ballet choreographed on the “floating” hoverboard stunned the audience. Flames also floated across the stage in a pas de trois between humans and a remote-controlled vehicle.

The Men: Left to Right: John Foster, Declan Jeffires, Josh Snyder, Logan Hillman, Florian Rouiller, Dustin Kimball, and Roland Jones. Photo by Paolo Galli of the Kirov Ballet.
The Men: Left to Right: John Foster, Declan Jeffires, Josh Snyder, Logan Hillman, Florian Rouiller, Dustin Kimball, and Roland Jones. Photo by Paolo Galli of the Kirov Ballet.

The first act, all music by Aram Khachaturian, opened with a market scene set in an undefined land, Turkestan, that no longer exists—a place influenced by a mix of Slavic and Arabian influences. The “Sabre Dance” danced to Khachaturian’s very-famous “Sabre Dance” from his ballet Gayane, captivated with its masculine bravado and derring-do. By the end of the first scene, Aladdin had been given a Magic Ring for protection as he went down into the Cave of Wonders in the second scene. It was in the cave that Aladdin accidentally released the Genie of the Ring. In the third scene, Aladdin was reunited with his mother and presented her with a beautiful Magic Lamp that he found in the cave from which emerged the Genie of the Lamp when Aladdin rubbed the lamp to clean it. Act I ended with a sorcerer overpowering both genies and kidnapping Jasmine.

The Women.
The Women: Left to Right: Danielle Creedon, Brittnay Wright, Lilia Gestson, Lizzie Phelps, Maddie Durmowicz, Kimora Maier, and Charlotte Vogel. Photo by Paolo Galli of the Kirov Ballet.

Something that was truly unique about this production was that Ichijo, in her creative brilliance, managed to incorporate the original choreography of Giselle (by Marius Petipa after Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot), a very-well-known ballet that dates back to the mid-nineteenth century, and use it to propel the story of Jasmine—and there are some uncanny parallels. It was astonishing to see middle and high school-aged dancers performing the very-difficult choreography of Giselle.

John Foster (Albrecht) and (Giselle).
John Foster (Albrecht) and Brittany Wright (Giselle). Photo by Paolo Galli of the Kirov Ballet. Photo by Paolo Galli of the Kirov Ballet.

Ichijo saved Giselle for the second act wherein Albrecht (Aladdin’s parallel character in Giselle) danced a beautiful dance of love to break a spell that the Wilis (sorcerers in Aladdin) cast on Jasmine (Giselle)—note the alluring alliteration between the parallels. Albrecht/Aladdin was danced by fifteen-year-old John Foster who excelled at this difficult role from Giselle. It was quite incredible to see a dancer so young take on the role of Albrecht and nail it.

From Joel Markowitz:
My personal congratulations to Fran and to everyone involved in this heartwarming and beautiful production. What I loved the most was watching all the young dancers enjoying themselves and performing in their stunning colorful costumes. They were all beaming! There was an enormous sense of pride, accomplishment, and joy on their faces and on the faces of their parents and grandparents and other family members and friends, and everyone in the audience. It was priceless!

And to have professional guest dancers and their caring and inspiring instructors and mentors performing side-by-side with them – is an experience these talented dancers of all ages will never forget.

I am still smiling three weeks later and I can’t wait to attend the next performance. I urge all of you who are reading this to also support Hope Garden Children’s Ballet Theatre and to attend their next performance.

Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes, with one intermission.


Aladdin and His Magic Lamp played on June 4, 2016 at Hope Garden Children’s Ballet Theatre performing at Poolesville High School – 17501 West Willard Road, in Poolesville, MD. For more information on Hope Garden Children’s Ballet Theatre, visit their website.

The review was written by Dominique Agnew.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1552.gif


John Foster.
Brittany Wright.
Kimora Maier
Genie of the Ring:
Danielle Creedon.
Genie of the Lamp:
Lilia Gestson.
Josh Snyder.



Act 1 Man sleeping: Florian Rouiller.

Aladdin: John Foster.

Snake: Ashley Zhang.

Snake Charmer: Lizzie Phelps.

Market Vendors: Emma Plomp, Eva Rotberg, Ashley Bass, Avery Ryan, Cecilia Zeranski, Melissa Ohmen, Caroline Tiss, Maddie Munster, and Makenna Trainor.

Market Ladies: Kimora Maier, Danielle Creedon, Brittany Wright, Maddie Durmowicz, Lilia Gestson, Lizzie Phelps, Charlotte Vogel, and Charlotte Gularson.

Beggar Boys: Keaton Dorman, Jacob Pries, Anderson Preis, and Jacob LeClair.

Mother of Aladdin: Kimora Maier.

Sabre Dance: John Foster (Aladdin), Bubby Roland Jones,* Josh Snyder (Sorcerer), Dustin Kimball, Florian Rouiller, Declan Jeffries, and Logan Hillman.

Sand Spirits: Abby Hanson, Charlotte Gularson, Amy Kinzie, Aubrey Dorman, Anna Porch, Ashley Zhang, Anna Stanoyevitch, Charlotte Vogel, Lydia White, and Christina Zhang.

Genie of the Ring: Danielle Creedon.

Magic Statue of the Cave: Charlotte Vogel.

Rubies: Mary Tighe Dansby, Regan Trainor, Gabriella Sierer, Charlotte Hofman, Jacob LeClair, Elizabeth Kinney, Victoria McGuire, Gabriella Stradley, Jordan Zhang, and Lela Eyler.

Ruby Helper: Charlotte Gularson.

Amethysts: Olivia Former, Jade Tiemann, Elizabeth Tchorni, Emma Martin, Kendall Zimmerman, Aubrey Savino, Elise Preis, Olivia Sordo, Adelade Kessler, Ellie Zelivinsky, Jenny Brailovsky, Ava Wagner, and Mikayla Goldstein.

Gold Nuggets: Maya Beltrami, Sophie Brailovsky, Zoe McGuire, Leesa Kolmiiets, and Kira Saunders.

Gold Bouillion: Ainsley Walton.

Genie of the Lamp: Lilia Gestson.

The Spirit of Aladdin’s Father: Dustin Kimball.

The Sultan’s Daughter (Jasmine): Brittany Wright.



 Sorcerer: Josh Snyder.

Sultan’s Daughter (double): Christina Zhang Jasmine (Giselle) and Brittany Wright.

Myrtha: Kimora Maier.

The Sorceresses (the Wilis): Gianna Bartolini, Aubrey Dorman, Maddie Durmowicz, Charlotte Gularson, Abby Hanson, Amy Kinzie, Leah Noland, Lizzie Phelps, Anna Porch, Emma Plomp, Anna Stanoyevitch, Lydia White, Ashley Zhang, and Christina Zhang.

Lead Sorcerettes: Lilia Gestson and Danielle Creedon.

Aladdin (Albrecht): John Foster.

Desert Wanderer (Hilarion): Dustin Kimball.

Genies: Lilia Gestson and Danielle Creedon.

* Bubby Roland Jones dances courtesy of Maryland Youth Ballet (MYB).

Gianna Bartolini dances courtesy of SUNY Purchase College Dance Program.

Leah Noland comes to us from University of Utah Dance Program.

Hope Garden Children’s Ballet Theatre Presents ‘A Christmas Carol reviewed by Joel Markowitz on DCMetroTheaterArts.


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