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American Ballet Theatre: Cinderella 2007
- Onstage with the Dancers

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American Ballet Theatre
www.abt.org

Cinderella 2007
At
Metropolitan Opera House
www.lincolncenter.org

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters:
Wes Chapman, Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Georgina Parkinson, Clinton Luckett
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate

by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
July 6, 2007

Originally Published on ExploreDance.com



Cinderella (2006): Choreography by James Kudelka, Music by Sergei Prokofiev, Asst. to the Choreographer, Mandy-Jayne Richardson, Scenery and Costume Design by David Boechler, Lighting Design by Christopher Dennis.

July 2, 2007: Conductor: Charles Barker, Performed by Julie Kent as Cinderella, Marcelo Gomes as Her Prince Charming, Martine Van Hamel as Her Stepmother, Carmen Corella as Her Stepsister, Marian Butler as Her Other Stepsister, Susan Jones as Fairy Godmother, Isaac Stappas as A Hired Escort, Craig Salstein as Another Hired Escort, Misty Copeland as Blossom, Maria Riccetto as Petal, Melissa Thomas as Moss, Zhong-Jing Fang as Twig, Kirk Peterson as A Photojournalist, Matthew Golding, Jared Matthews, Sascha Radetsky, Gennadi Saveliev as Four Officers, and the Company as A Jeweler, A Dressmaker, His Assistant, A Makeup Artist, A Dancing Instructor, Groom, Justice of the Peace, Father of the Bride, Ring Bearer, Garden Creatures, Pumpkins, Ladies and Bachelors, A Shoe Salesman, The Shoemakers, A Customer, Ladies with/out Shoes, and Wedding Guests.

July 6, 2007: Conductor: David LaMarche, Performed by Gillian Murphy as Cinderella, David Hallberg as Her Prince Charming, Adrienne Schulte as Her Stepmother, Kristi Boone as Her Stepsister, Maria Riccetto as Her Other Stepsister, Georgina Parkinson as Fairy Godmother, Roman Zhurbin as A Hired Escort, Carlos Lopez as Another Hired Escort, Yuriko Kajiya as Blossom, Renata Pavam as Petal, Melissa Thomas as Moss, Hee Seo as Twig, Kirk Peterson as A Photojournalist, Alexei Agoudine, Blaine Hoven, Jared Matthews, Alejandro Piris-Nino as Four Officers, and the Company as A Jeweler, A Dressmaker, His Assistant, A Makeup Artist, A Dancing Instructor, Groom, Justice of the Peace, Father of the Bride, Ring Bearer, Garden Creatures, Pumpkins, Ladies and Bachelors, A Shoe Salesman, The Shoemakers, A Customer, Ladies with/out Shoes, and Wedding Guests.


James Kudelka, Canadian Ballet, has conceived a new premise, a take on the fairy tale. Cinderella lives in a suburb, probably in the 1920's (if one dates the costumes and Charleston party), of a "rich and fashionable capital city". The stepsisters are "accomplished social-climbers", and the "creatures of the garden", blossom, petal, moss, twig, moths, butterflies, and insects, all bring material and clothing for the ball. Another new premise is that Cinderella does not turn from riches to rags at the stroke of midnight, but silks to slip. Yes, at midnight she is literally undressed, crowded by the now pumpkin-headed escorts. Cinderella, back in the suburbs, where her disheveled kitchen is suddenly organized, dances on one glass slipper, the other foot bare, and, in this determined dream of her lost Prince, she executes numerous (perhaps the ballet requisite 32) fouettés.

Meanwhile, the Prince and his four Officers travel the globe and beg a Chinese woman with tiny feet, fan, and parasol, as well as a Flamenco dancer, to try on the shiny slipper, while women in clogs and snow shoes pass by. The Prince and Cinderella, reunited in her fantasy garden, of giant lettuce and scallions, marry and "instead of a lavish honeymoon abroad…find peace and love in making their garden grow". Moreover, the two Stepsisters and the alcoholic, tipsy, cigarette-smoking Stepmother have, it seems, more stage time than Cinderella and Her Prince Charming, stage time filled with campy, cute devices, all humor, mostly en pointe, with a touch of dance. The "Love of Three Oranges" theme occurs with silver champagne glasses in an all-black, 1920's party ensemble scene. Rather than the arrival of regal characters with a formal invitation to the Ball, we had been entertained by a Jeweler, Dressmaker, Makeup Artist, Dance Instructor, and Assistants.

Obviously, Kudelka's Cinderella has been conceived as dry humor, farce and slapstick, and the romantic, sweeping theme takes second stage. New conceptions are not bad, and innovative choreography can be riveting. This is a daring, dynamic production, and I loved every moment, even more this year than last. New choreographies of favorite ballets take getting used to. Although I would have preferred more stage time for the Cinderella-Prince Pas de Deux, both duos did the best they could with their solos and spotlights. In fact, during the Ball and afterwards at the Prince's palace, both Cinderella and Her Prince Charming dance spinning solos and languorous leaps like two seductive birds in mating season. The Prince's modest gestures, although a bit campy, are still captivating. There's much bowing to each other, and the Prince dances to Cinderella, as she sits in a garden chair. Then, there's that mesmerizing scene, when the Prince first sees Cinderella arriving in a giant, glowing, orange-cushioned pumpkin (I'd love to ride in one of these), seemingly lowered on thick orange ribbons into his Ball. The hand gestures say it all.

On July 2nd, Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes re-invented their roles from last year, Cinderella and Her Prince, and, as always, Mr. Gomes was driven, athletic, theatrical, always in the moment, always in the mood, and charismatic to watch. Julie Kent seemed more inner-involved, ingénue, restrained in their limited Pas de Deux. Yet, in the solos, and, especially in the one-slipper dances, she danced with astounding abandon and seasoned skill. This partnership is effective, with Ms. Kent's grace and Mr. Gomes' passion. On July 6th, however, Gillian Murphy and David Hallberg, as Cinderella and Her Prince, both exuded grace and passion, and, together, energized the audience. Mr. Hallberg has regal lines and Princely features. He seems especially virtuosic this season, as he has grown into his Principal roles. His leaps, spins, and lifts brimmed with bravura technique, balance, and timing. Ms. Murphy executed double fouettés, tosses and turns against Mr. Hallberg's torso, and consistent dramatization that elevated her role to one of rare stage presence, an exciting performance. Ms. Murphy, as well, has grown into a bravura ballerina.

As Her Stepmother, the retired Martine Van Hamel on July 2nd was more professionally seasoned than the corps dancer, Adrienne Schulte, who over-accentuated the gestures, but, who will, no doubt, grow into these solo opportunities. On July 2nd as well, Carmen Corella and Marian Butler were more persuasive and entertaining as the Stepsisters, than were Kristi Boone (a new soloist) and Maria Riccetto on July 6th. Susan Jones, on July 2nd, was far more dramatic and nurturing as the Fairy Godmother than was Georgina Parkinson on July 6th, and Roman Zhurbin and Carlos Lopez on July 6th were more effective as witty, Hired Escorts than were Isaac Stappas and Craig Salstein on July 2nd. Kirk Peterson, on both nights, has perfected the role of A Photojournalist, the paparazzi of 1920's Princely Balls (even when his camera failed to flash). His mannerisms were studied. The July 2nd Four Officers cast was more dynamic than was the cast on July 6th, with Gennadi Saveliev et al particularly split-timed and buoyant.

Both casts in the Garden solos gave persuasive performances, with Misty Copeland (a new soloist) as Blossom and Zhong-Jing Fang as Twig on July 2nd particularly memorable, as well as Melissa Thomas as Moss on July 6th. David Boechler's sets and costumes have captured the essence of Kudelka's camp concept and more, with the orange pumpkin coach, the huge wooden kitchen cabinets, the hearth with smoky entrances of kneeling creatures and dreamy wedding guests, the bucolic garden and insect fabrics, and the pumpkin-headed escorts. Christopher Dennis expertly designed shifts in lighting for the moody surrealism. And, both Charles Barker and David LaMarche kept Ballet Theatre Orchestra in fascinating form, as the impassioned Prokofiev score swept through the Opera House. The music still swells in my mind. Kudos to James Kudelka.

Julie Kent in Cinderella.

File Photo courtesy of Gene Schiavone


Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes in Cinderella.

File Photo courtesy of Gene Schiavone

 

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net