Neoclassical ballet

Ballet makes its groundbreaking debut at Saenger

Victoria Blakeley, a senior at Davidson High School, will star in Mobile Ballet’s production of “The Princess and the Frog.” She is the first black lead role in the company’s 34-year history.

October can be considered Mobile’s own variation on Groundhog Day: if we emerge from our air-conditioned dens and aren’t drenched in sweat by the time we reach the car, then we know summer is coming to an end.

Fittingly, Mobile Ballet emerges from the shadow of the pandemic this month with a distinctly regional panache and a revolutionary new face to boot. Their renewal is spread over two weekends.

First comes Jazzy Sunday with Mobile Ballet, a fundraiser on October 10, 2-5 p.m., at the Mobile Carnival Museum (355 Government St.). Everyone will have access to the museum, a “festive street party” with live music from Alvin King and the Fifth K’nection Band, libations and light fare from local vendors such as Mo’ Bay Beignet Co.

The society will also honor two longtime supporters, Barbara Corte and Ron Barrett, for their years of service.

The event is for ages 21 and up. Tickets are $75. Dress code is dressy and casual. Proceeds support Mobile Ballet’s productions and educational programs.

The activity moves to the Saenger Theater (6 S. Joachim St.) the following weekend as the company stages a version of “The Princess and the Frog”, revamped for local tastes. Inspired by the 2009 Disney film, Mobile Ballet Artistic Director Katia Garza brought the setting of 1920s New Orleans history to the heart of Mobile Mardi Gras.

It follows Tiana, a young restaurant worker who meets a prince who has become a frog, victim of an evil wizard. Tiana kisses the amphibian, then transforms into one herself, and the pair begin a quest to break the spell.

The title role will be played by Davidson High School senior Victoria Blakely, Mobile Ballet’s first ever black lead since its debut in 1987. Cleveland Ballet’s Agustin de Sousa will also be a principal dancer.

The work will be produced in collaboration with the PACT Theater Company. Garza created the neoclassical choreography and Ron Barrett designed the sets.

Performances are October 16 at 7:30 p.m. and October 17 at 2:30 p.m. Each performance is one hour, with no intermission.

Tickets range from $20 to $60. Ballet staff are already reporting good sales.

Seats will be blocked off to observe social distancing in accordance with health and safety guidelines. Masks covering the nose and mouth are mandatory.

For more information, call 251-342-2241 or visit

Beginning October 8, the Alabama Contemporary Art Center (ACAC) will unveil a unique pop-up exhibit covering Mobile County’s history of racial violence. Created in conjunction with the work of the Mobile County Community Remembrance Project (MCCRP) to commemorate lynching victims, it also involves visitor participation.

The exhibit is contained in the “Cube” portion of the gallery at 301 Conti St., a few blocks from where Richard Robertson was dragged from the city jail and lynched in January 1909. Visitors may poring over a map of the county’s lynching sites, then reading summaries of the victims and the circumstances surrounding their murders. Also on display will be commemorative soil samples taken from the approximate crime scenes.

This part of the physical exhibition will be in place until October.

ACAC and MCCRP also seek to record community members’ stories of these incidents. Every six months they will organize three events to collect and document oral histories related to the lynchings and their modern legacy. The stories will be collected in digital and written form.

MCCRP’s work is done in conjunction with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery.

Meanwhile, the Baldwin County Community Remembrance Project announced an essay contest from Sept. 30 to Dec. 10, open to all students in grades nine through 12 at Baldwin County Public Schools. Students are encouraged to examine the history and legacy of racial injustice in 800-1000 word essays. Essays should explain the chosen topic using one or more local historical events, explore how injustice persists, and imagine solutions for a future free of racial injustice. Students are encouraged to reflect on the impact of the topic on their own life and community.

Entries will be judged by a panel of experts in local history education and racial justice. Scholarships totaling at least $5,000 will be awarded. Contest winners will be announced at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance on January 17, 2022 in Foley.

On February 5, 2022, a historical marker will be placed in the Bay Minette Courthouse Square in remembrance of Reuben Sims who was seized by a mob and lynched at Little River in Baldwin County on April 16, 1904.

Like their Mobile County counterparts, the Baldwin County group partnered with EJI for the Marker Project and Essay Contest.

For more information about the contest and other resources on racial injustice, visit