“There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand.”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Some bitty ballerinas dream of pretty pink tutus. The day a girl gets her first pair of satin pink pointe shoes is a huge milestone. Pink ribbons, pink elastic, pink bun covers, pink leotards, pink tights, pink skirts, pink bags….Light them all on fire!
Dion Leonhard DiDonna is dancing it differently, and out to prove that an education in classical ballet can lead a girl as far from pretty pink a her imagination can take her. Along with her theatre troupe, “Phantasmagoria Orlando”, this daring dancer is introducing audiences to the darker side of the art. With a Victorian steampunk horror flair, Phantasmagoria is a unique and spectacular blend of storytelling, dance, puppetry, aerial work, fire performance, live music and stage combat; every troupe member weaving multiple threads through its mesmerizing tapestry.
“My role in the company was and is not just as a dancer. I help tell the stories. I bring puppets to life. I play with fire!” says DiDonna. That’s right. Fire! Fire while on pointe. Fire while being lifted and thrown through the air. A favorite moment for dancer and audience alike is the fire fan pas de deux. Parasols on fire, 3 foot dragon wings ablaze, fans burning, this ballerina has shed every scrap of pink in favor of char.
And those pointe shoes? Black! Black ribbons, black elastics, black corsets, dramatic makeup, and all the fabulous burning props! She tells us, “If someone had told baby bunhead me that I would grow up to be a fire dancing, gothic ballerina, I wouldn't have believed such a thing to be possible.”
Her career path began in classical companies with much more traditional roles. “Over the years, as I performed with multiple contemp