Sleeping Beauty Awakes: Dance show raises scholarship funds | Local News

Shirley P. Olin

VALDOSTA – Brandi Roberts has more than 125,000 reasons and counting to keep presenting the annual Princess Ballet series.

Reasons that have helped scores of Valdosta State University Theatre and Dance students through the years.

The annual ballet partnership between Roberts’ Valdosta School of Ballet and VSU Theatre & Dance has raised more than $125,000 in scholarship funds during the past 16 years, she said.

And is ready to earn more this weekend with “Sleeping Beauty,” the 17th Annual Princess Ballet.

Roberts has been committed for years to raising scholarship funds for VSU Theatre & Dance.

Years ago, Roberts led the annual production of “The Little Match Girl” to benefit VSU Theatre.

After several years hiatus, she returned with “Cinderella” to raise money for university scholarships in 2006. Roberts and her Valdosta School of Ballet keep none of the proceeds. All of the money goes to VSU Theatre & Dance.

The Princess Ballets have included 10 productions of “Sleeping Beauty” and seven of “Cinderella.”

Roberts said there are no plans to introduce a third Princess to the list.

“We’re staying with ‘Sleeping Beauty,'” Roberts said, “it’s been very popular.”

Popularity is based on a mix of annual tradition and adding something new to make the show “sparkle” each year, said Roberts and Joe Mason, with VSU Theatre and Dance and “Sleeping Beauty” stage director.

The 2022 show introduces dancers playing seasonal fairies of winter, spring, summer and fall.

Roberts said the series will stick with “Sleeping Beauty” for the foreseeable future because she can easily add or subtract elements each year. Changes allow the series to offer the traditional story with something new annually for regular audiences. 

The show features the return of professional dancer Fhilipe Teixeira. He dances as the Prince. He is from Dance Alive National Ballet in Gainesville, Fla. 

Meredith Reitz is Aurora, the Sleeping Beauty, this year. She is a VSU Theatre and Dance student.

Several dance scholarship students perform in the show, Roberts said, adding her students learn the importance of giving back to the community.

Last year, the show was rescheduled from its regular late January date to May due to the pandemic. “Sleeping Beauty” was one of the last South Georgia performances to take the stage in the early months of 2020 before arts seasons ended and shows shut down due to COVID-19.

THE CAST: Hank Rion, Anna Kathryn Gardner, Meredith Reitz, Fhilipe Teixeira, Ian C. Bingham, Melba Miller, Hope Clayborne, Abby Gill, Luisa Garrett, Marcus McGhee, Kalab Quinn, Mark Sheme, Chauncy Brooks, Alex Seelmeyer, Mia Meli, Lillabeth Mason, Thaisia Jones, Skyler Fielder, Morgan Mackey, Taylor Bennett, Anna Pate, Madison Miller, Elle Scruggs, Taunya Thompson, Annabelle Rose, Harley McGee, Baileigh Rowland, Emily Kate Hiers, Ella Grace Neal, Kinslee Bolton, Karli Malone, Riley Futch, Claire Rothenhofer, Chauncy Brooks, Akira Gilmore, Kalab Quinn, Sarah Byram, Emma Hornbuckle, Mallory Rogers, Sadie Mason, Baileigh Rowland, Sarah Davis, Kinslee Bolton, Sarah Bryam, Jayden Futch, Karli Malone, Emma Hornbuckle, Caitlin Johnson, Lasana Murphy, Victoria Wells, Maya Tupek, Kailey Baez, Ginsley Lawlor, Claire Rothenhofer, Riley Futch, Harley McGee, Emily Ruiz, Raeley Parker, Charlie Wisenbaker, Morgan Bass, Lauren Bass, Annalisa Odell, Ashlyn Matheson, Riley Wright, Kherington Malone, Madelyn Burnam, Jaycee Carter, Caitlin Johnson, Lacey Brown, Baxa Campbell, Jaycee Carter, Ginsey Lawlor, Lasana Murphy, Victoria Wells, Maya Tupek, Emily Ruiz, Kailey Baez.

Valdosta School of Ballet and Valdosta State University Theatre & Dance present “Sleeping Beauty,” 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21, and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, Mathis City Auditorium, 2300 N. Ashley St. More information: Call (229) 333-5973 or visit

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