The Colorado Ballet’s “Cinderella” Sweeps Away Winter Blues
The Colorado Ballet’s “Cinderella” is a vibrant retelling of the beloved fairy tale. I took my seven-year-old daughter to a Saturday matinee. Like many young girls, she’s completely familiar with a certain version featuring sewing birds and mice. I wasn’t sure if the ballet version would capture her attention. Would she be confused or even miffed if the ballet veered away from the bibbity-bobbity-boo rendition?
There wasn’t a single rodent on stage, and she loved it. So did I.
The story opens with a family scene. Cinderella, danced by Chandra Kuykendall, is abused by her terrible stepsisters and stepmother as her helpless father looks on. She’s made to toil as the hysterically funny stepsisters (danced by Kevin Hale and Christopher Ellis) tease and haughtily preen and prance. Finally left alone, Cinderella exudes sadness and loneliness as she remembers her late mother. Her father joins her and they dance with a portrait of the mother. It’s a lovely, poignant scene, which sets up the tone for the rest of the performance.
Throughout “Cinderella,” the story deftly moved from laugh-out-loud comic scenes with the stepsisters and Jester (Francisco Estevez) to tender, exquisitely choreographed pas de deux with Cinderella and the Prince (Domenico Luciano). Watch for their dance in the second act. It’s gorgeous and there were a lot of teary mommies in the audience. I looked around through my own filmy eyes and heard some sniffles in our section of the theater.
Another high point of the Colorado Ballet’s “Cinderella” was the dancing of the Fairy Godmother (Asuka Sasaki) and her special helpers—dragonflies and four fairies representing the four seasons. This is where the musical score by Prokofiev, set design, and costuming truly shone. The colors were yummy eye candy, the dancing was athletic and whimsical, and I heard the most oohs and aahs from the young audience. Cinderella’s transformation from a poor girl in rags to a shining princess was made complete by a the clever carriage, closing out the first act with style and smarts.
My daughter adored the slapstick follies of the stepsisters. She’s still talking about how much they made her laugh. Me too. You have to be an excellent dancer to dance as badly as these two. I appreciated that the male dancers appeared to relish playing the stepsisters. It was great fun watching them, especially during the ball scene in the second act. And you’ve never seen anyone try on a glass slipper like the two stepsisters as they try to convince the Prince each is the one he searches for.
“Cinderella” is divided into three acts with two intermissions. This is ideal for a story that appeals to kids, who can get squirmy. Kids of all ages were at the matinee performance we saw and they did really well. Obviously, the pace, dancing, and story were compelling and attention-grabbing. The only time it seems to slow is during the middle of the second act, when ball guests dance. I found it all lovely, but I think my daughter wanted more Cinderella and more stepsisters. She got them.
If you decide to take your kids, here are some things to know: The performance is 2 hours and 25 minutes including two intermissions. Snacks and drinks are sold in the lobby during intermissions, along with princess accoutrements like crowns and wands. Ask one of the friendly ushers for booster seats. Older kids who can read will be able to follow the story with captioning which occasionally pops up on the seat in front of you. Kids and parents were dressed in anything from jeans and sweaters to princess gowns. This would be a great “starter” ballet for kids if they’ve never seen a top-drawer professional production.
The most important thing to know, though, is that “Cinderella” won’t be around for very long. Performances are running through February 23, 2014 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, including weekend matinees. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, visit The Colorado Ballet.
(all photo credits: Mike Watson for The Colorado Ballet)