By Joyce Johnson and ‘choreographed’ by Maria Sascha Khan
Welcome back Fairy Tea for the Arts - July 11, which will be at the Copper Rose Ranch in Pray this year, from 2 to 4 p.m.; a magical event that playfully and creatively focuses on beauty, nature, and youth mentor-ship. This year’s theme presented by Youth Arts in Action, a 501c3, as part of the Yellowstone International Arts Festival, is “Waters of Life,” a timely and brilliant idea since we live along the Yellowstone river, the life blood of the land, and it right now is flowing powerfully north with winter’s runoff turning the valley green, and drawing visitors from everywhere.
The Fairy Tea for the Arts always sells out fast and tickets are online only. Sorry, no tickets available at the door. Children under three are free. Please go to the website and read the story in brief, but best of all see it elegantly depicted in the dance video. The Copper Rose Ranch is located on East River Road, and rumor has it that it’s a beautiful rustic barn with chandeliers. There will be large wooden tables full of a wonderful variety of treats, and tea pots & tea cups all different of course, and everything decorated with the enchanting expressions of the ongoing theme of the 4 elements: fire, air, water & earth. Links at the end of this article give you all the interesting stories and info you need including tips like “Come dressed in your fairy finest,” and don’t be surprised when a miniature donkey greets you and gifts you with a free Fairy Coloring Book.
Features include live harp music; Montana born opera singer Isaac Hall, who is currently studying at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music; a charming performance of the “Flower Festival of Genzano” pas de deux by the Youth Arts in Action “Mentee” and Montana native, Josiah Kauffman and his partner, Erin Casale, who are professional ballet dancers with the Pittsburg Ballet Theatre. To celebrate the water element as promised, “Waves of Light” choreographed by local choreographer Akiko Beracha will be danced by Rosemary and Annabelle Beracha. And with literally laughing anticipation, the Montana “Turtle Talk” is given by local valley youth, Larissa Saarel. You are going to want to attend this fun mix of culture and talent.
Many will remember this festival at the Sage Lodge in recent years and again the most frequently used word is “magical” for that one too, which featured an incomparably exciting and very “Montana” outdoor wind-enhanced dance performance. Along with the theme: the “Songs of Life” that year, a featured Raptor Show kept us well,...in rapt attention. How often do you see up so close, a beautiful eagle, a big vulture (gulp), an owl and other feathered sky celebrities on the leather covered arm of a forest ranger while hearing the story of each bird? Guests sat on the lawn, and everyone, including the birds, kept glancing over their shoulders at the dark storm rolling in fast from the south. But then! ... it simply halted at the edge of the property, as though joining us in respect for the great birds of their element, that could not be freed back into the wild,... but seemed pretty content with being cared for and celebrated by the Humans.
But they have turtles this year - ancient representatives of the water kingdom. Larissa spent her childhood outdoors in the natural Montana world chasing butterflies, catching frogs, and skiing down snowy slopes. But her featured Turtle Talk, ...not the presentation our famous fly fishermen would expect for the local water element...like a tank of rescued trout? Nope! This young woman is fond of turtles. And so will you be. Last year as a college junior Larissa began a research project studying the population and ecology of the spiny softshell turtles on both the Bighorn and Yellowstone rivers, and has worked with common snapping turtles which inhabit the smaller tributaries of these rivers. She states: “These turtles have become a unique part of my life, and I have grown to respect their hardiness and ability to survive in the harshest of conditions.”
At the “Fairy Tea for the Arts - Waters of Life” you will also have the opportunity to meet the Montana born, internationally renowned Khan/MacKay family dancing siblings: Maria Sascha Khan, Nadia Khan, Julian Mackay and Nicholas MacKay, trained from an early age in Russia, Europe, and Asia and are hailed as “the most influential ballet family of our time” by London dance critics; and as “ballet treasures” by the Washington Post. They are by the way passionate about bringing this international acclaim back to where it all began, Montana.
But as though that is not enough, Youth Arts in Action focuses on mentoring and encouraging youth to embrace the arts, not by example alone, but with wise support and direction, and, not just here but all over the world. Bravo and thanks to all of the contributing artists whose life work is our gift to enjoy, and to the lady entrepreneur, Teresa Khan MacKay, mother of the 4 super talented siblings, the principal dancers at the Festival. For 18 years Teresa has organized, and whenever she could, helped our talented youth find their place and training, and created a venue to spotlight and share their talent level which by the way is surprisingly high here, where potential and character is nurtured and strengthened … by the diverse elements that challenge Montanans.
August 19th the magic continues with “Yellowstone International Arts Festival - Feel the Freedom,” 8pm, at the Copper Rose Ranch. This performance includes Native American dancers; Principal Dancers from San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Rome Opera Ballet; and the young international opera singer Joshua Stewart from Berlin. Also featured is the talent of our Montana youth trained in renowned schools such as the English National Ballet School in London and the Vagonova Ballet Academy in Russia.
PCCJournal’s upcoming issues will have more news, story and pictures but for now, hope you enjoy these links below, and if you can, join the celebration of our talented Montana youth.
Yellowstone International Arts Festival @YellowstoneIntArts on Instagram • Maria Sascha Khan @MariaSaschaKhan on Instagram
Julian MacKay @JulianMacKay on Instagram • Nadia Khan @NadiaKhanBallerina on Instagram
Nicholas MacKay @MacKayProductions • Larissa@YellowstoneTurtles on instagram.
Founders of the Yellowstone International Arts Festival left to right are Nicholas MacKay, Maria Sascha Khan, Teresa Khan MacKay, Gregory MacKay, Nadia Khan, and Julian MacKay. Photo by Audrey Hall