Hope, dreams, and friendship warm ‘The Snow Maiden’ at Synetic

This holiday season, Synetic Theater presents The Snow Maiden, an original production created and directed by Helen Hayes Award–winning choreographer and Synetic Co-Founder Irina Tsikurishvili, and performed by Maryam Najafzada and Vato Tsikurishvili. Inspired by the classic folktale “Snegurochka” by Alexander Ostrovsky, The Snow Maiden tells its story through movement and dance, set to a score that combines classical pieces and music by Koki Lortkipanidze.

Deep in a snow-covered forest, a boy (Vato Tsikurishvili) sits alone in a small, isolated room. As he decorates his rather pitiful little Christmas tree, it becomes obvious that he is quite lonely. The audience watches some impressive pantomiming as he suits up to go play outside. Of course, there is no actual snowsuit, but you can almost see it as he jumps up and struggles with an invisible zipper — the suit is snug, and he just barely manages to fit himself into it.

The pantomiming is a lot of fun to watch, but as the boy begins to build his “snowman,” we realize what a talented duo tells this story. The maiden (Maryam Najafzada) is shrouded in white fabric, and she moves agilely along with the boy’s movements until her final form is revealed. Watching him sculpt her from “snow” has to be my favorite part; it’s beautiful in an ethereal, graceful way that I won’t soon forget.

Maryam Najafzada as Snow Maiden and Vato Tsikurishvili as The Boy in ‘The Snow Maiden.’ Photo by Michael Butcher for Elman Studio.

Then the magic starts; after the boy goes inside, the snow maiden miraculously comes to life, moving in a quirky, robotic fashion as she explores her form and surroundings. She is mischievous and playful with him from the start, teasing him with a game of “ding-dong ditch” before revealing herself to the boy, who is of course shocked and awed at his creation.

What follows is a budding friendship expressed entirely through movement and music. It’s amazing just how few technical elements an audience really needs in order to follow a narrative, so long as the talent is there, and it is — Najafzada and Tsikurishvili are masters of Synetic’s signature stage movement. Through miming, dance, acrobatics, and more, we see the duo build trust in each other as they enjoy activities such as skiing on a frozen lake and having a snowball fight. Audience participation becomes a big factor at one point, and everyone (especially the kids) absolutely loved it!

Maryam Najafzada as Snow Maiden and Vato Tsikurishvili as The Boy in ‘The Snow Maiden.’ Photo by Michael Butcher for Elman Studio.

Alas, as snow-people tend to do, the maiden starts to melt. It’s here that we see the true transformative power of hope, dreams, and friendship. I won’t give away details about the ending, but I will say that the Christmas message rings loud and clear — without anyone having to utter a single word.

Synetic Theater’s The Snow Maiden is a short, sweet adventure that is good for any age, and especially perfect for families to enjoy together. I highly recommend that you treat yourselves to a showing!

Running Time: Approximately 45 minutes with no intermission.

The Snow Maiden plays through December 23, 2022, at Synetic Theater in the underground Crystal City Shops, 1800 South Bell Street, Arlington, VA. Tickets ($25) are available online, at the theater box office (open an hour before showtime), by email at boxoffice@synetictheater.org, or by phone at (703) 824-8060 ext. 117.

The playbill for The Snow Maiden is online here.

COVID Safety: All guests 5 and older must provide proof of vaccination. Patrons are required to wear a mask in all Synetic Theater spaces at all times unless eating or drinking. See Synetic Theater’s complete COVID Safety protocols here.