Thursday, May 17, 2007

Baby is a Real 'Sleeping Beauty' 

Posted by James at 10:10 AM ET

By Roger McBain
Evansville Courier & Press
Maya Ragland isn't 6 months old yet, but she's already landed a featured role in a familiar ballet.

Maya plays the infant Princess Aurora in the Children's Center for Dance Education's production of "The Children's Sleeping Beauty" ballet.

She appears with her mom, Sadia Ragland, who play's Aurora's queen mother in the opening scene of this hour long version of "Sleeping Beauty." Maya's 4-year-old sister, Jazmine, plays alongside her, as another princess in the opening scene, returning later in the ballet as flower girl.

Sadia, Indianapolis Colts Cheerleader
Sadia Ragland, center, and her daughter, Maya, now nearly 6 months old, perform in "The Children's Sleeping Beauty"

Choreographed by Deena Laska, Children's Center founder and artistic director, this an abbreviated version of the full-length "Sleeping Beauty," set to the original music of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky.

It follows the fairy tale of Aurora, a princess placed under a spell by the Carrabosse, a witch seeking revenge for being left off the guest list for baby Aurora's christening ball.

She issues a curse that will cause the princess to fall into a deep sleep on her 16th birthday, and not waken for 100 years. Only the kiss of true love will awaken her.

Kaitlin Cavender will dance the role of Aurora at 16, and again, years later, after her prince's kiss brings her out her suspended animation.

Maya comes to the infant princess's role a veteran of Children's Center productions, notes her mother. Maya made her debut in February, when she was just 3 months old, in the company's Black History Month production. Ragland carried her infant in an African lullaby.

Sadia, Indianapolis Colts Cheerleader
Sadia (right) on a Colts Cheerleaders morale boosting tour.

"I just held her and we danced around, lulling her to sleep," she says.

For "Sleeping Beauty," she sets her baby in the cradle during the opening scene. Ragland wondered how her baby would do if she wasn't being held, she says. "I was thinking, what if she starts getting fussy? What am I going to do?"

In early performances Maya has been wonderful, says her mother. Even if she did fuss, "Jazmine is there right next to her," says Ragland. "She's an excellent big sister, and I'm sure she would take over and start entertaining the baby princess."

And that could just add to the effectiveness of the scene, says Ragland. "Everyone would realize, 'That is a real baby.'"

Ragland, a former Indianapolis Colts Cheerleader with an art education degree from the University of Evansville, has taught about five years at the Children's Center for Dance Education.

She was dancing there during her pregnancy with both daughters, she says, "so I guess they were born dancing."

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