Cinderella - Spring 2011
Posted 21 June 2011 - 07:26 PM
Personally, I'm a fan of this production, and I would definitely take ballet-newbies to see it, but I know it has its detractors. The house looked pretty full from where I was sitting though.
At the dress rehearsal this afternoon, Stella Abrera was Act I's Cinderella, Xiomara Reyes and Sascha Radetsky led Act II, and Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes performed Act III. I saw Guillaume Cote practice a little bit, and what I saw did make me wish I could see his performance with Abrera tomorrow. Hopefully some other posters will see it and comment on it!
Posted 22 June 2011 - 03:39 AM
Posted 22 June 2011 - 06:01 AM
Posted 24 June 2011 - 12:43 PM
Posted 25 June 2011 - 05:48 AM
Posted 25 June 2011 - 06:52 AM
Onwards to Swan Lake.
Posted 25 June 2011 - 05:51 PM
Posted 26 June 2011 - 09:58 AM
Posted 26 June 2011 - 11:18 AM
When I first saw ABT’s production of “Cinderella” in 2007 (with Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes as the leads), I was just a casual ballet viewer.
At that point, I was going to see ballet not so much because I loved it, but more because my friends and I felt like it was something we should do now that we lived in NYC—we needed to be cultured! And I really wanted to like watching ballet—after all, I had done it for 7 years as a kid and picked it up back in college, so I knew my glissades from my jetes and assembles.
Unfortunately, ballet performances seemed to have a strong soporific effect on me. Although I never found the dancing boring, something about the combination of the cool, dark theater, the (usually) beautiful music, and the lovely images just lulled me to sleep, and pretty soon I’d be fighting to keep my eyes open. It happened during an NYCB performance of “Swan Lake” and during a performance of “The Dream” by ABT. (Somehow I had managed to stay awake for a performance of “Jewels” at NYCB, but I walked out thinking, well that was pretty nice! And that was it.)
So going into this performance of “Cinderella,” I had very little to compare it to. At that point, I had no idea who Julie Kent or Marcelo Gomes were. I didn’t even really understand what the difference between ABT and NYCB was. Mostly I was hoping not to fall asleep.
But then Act I started and I was immediately intrigued. “Cinderella doesn’t have pointe shoes! That’s interesting!” I thought. “What a colorful backdrop! What a cool set! And-oh!-she’s climbing all over it!” This production challenged all my preconceived notions of what ballet was supposed to be. The lead ballerina, barefoot?! And jumping on tables?! And throwing things?! And I thought it was so funny to see the stepsisters walking on pointe shoes like they were walking on stilts. So much for being graceful! I had no idea ballet could be FUNNY!
I also thought it was refreshing to set the story in the 1920s or so instead of a vague fairy-tale time (like any other film or production of “Cinderella” I’d seen). How gorgeous the girls look in their flapper costumes! And the men are so dapper in their coattails! And I really liked how Cinderella’s pointe shoes were substituted for the glass slippers. Having Cinderella dance in one pointe shoe in Act III was very clever, I thought.
In addition, the pas de deux were like none I had ever seen. They seemed more free and romantic—not so formal, polite, and academic—and the lifts were spectacular. And Julie and Marcelo really made me believe they were in love.
By the end of the performance, I was dying to see more ballet. And not only that, I wanted to learn everything that I could—about the dancers I’d seen, about ABT, about ballet in general.
That was the start was the start of my ballet addiction. Thanks to that performance, I am here writing on this forum now.
So given this experience, I was rather excited to be going to Saturday night’s performance with the cast that started it all for me—Kent and Gomes, and I was thrilled to be taking three friends, all of whom had seen no more than a few ballets apiece.
And they absolutely LOVED it. They found the staging inventive, they loved the pas de deux, and they thought the stepsisters were hysterical—just like I did four years ago. And it seems that they may have caught a bit of the ballet bug as well. After the show, one friend (coming from out of town) commented, “That was wonderful! I can see why you go all the time. I would go every week if I could!” Seems like “Cinderella” worked its magic on her.
So while the critics and the educated ballet fans may attack the choreography, or bemoan the excess of mime, I think Kudelka’s “Cinderella” offers a refreshing and intriguing take on the Cinderella story, and is very different from what your average non-ballet-viewing person thinks of when they think of ballet. I probably wouldn’t recommend it to my ballet-savvy friends, but for those who don’t know much about ballet, but who have an open mind, like a good story, and enjoy a little slapstick comedy, I think it’s great.
Of course, some of the magic of the performance depends on the cast, and last night’s was fantastic.
When I saw Julie Kent as Cinderella four years ago, I thought, “what a beautiful ballerina!”—and the same holds true today. Granted, she is not nearly as technically impressive as the other principal dancers (anymore), but even though she may do less, she makes it look lovely.
During the dress rehearsal, when Julie and Marcelo were standing on the side, chatting and laughing, the lady sitting next to me exclaimed (with a touch of jealousy), “Look at Julie! She looks like a teenager! She’s so pretty.” And I agree. In addition to her girlish figure, there is something about her manner, her seeming utter lack of guile, and her bright, sweet smile that makes her seem young and innocent. She’s effortlessly endearing. It reminded me a bit of Cojocaru’s Giselle—I just wanted to root for this charming, good-natured Cinderella!
And Marcelo Gomes just makes everything marvelous. Prince Charming indeed! He looked absolutely smitten with Julie’s Cinderella, and their pas de deux were gorgeous. In his very capable hands, the partnering was effortless, and the lifts were spectacular. I’ve seen my fair share of impressive pashmina-style lifts in, say, “Romeo & Juliet” or “Lady of the Camellias,” but I liked that the lifts in “Cinderella” were more about the movement than a camera-ready pose. All of a sudden, Cinderella would leap—and end up seated on his shoulders. In the Act II pas de deux, I especially love the lift where Cinderella is up on his shoulder, and the Prince twists her as he brings her down. I gasped when they did this. And in the final pas de deux, the Prince practically throws Cinderella up, holding her supporting leg, so she makes an arabesque above his head—amazing.
That brings me to the stepsisters, with the bossy blonde played by Simone Messmer, and the freckled, bespectacled redhead played by Maria Riccetto. As fantastic as I thought Luciana Paris was on Tuesday night, Riccetto outdid her. I’m never ever going to be able to look at her the same again!! I loved her as the schoolgirl in “The Bright Stream,” but I had no idea she was such a comic genius! She had the audience totally cracking up. When she did her solo for the Prince sans glasses, there were peals of laughter throughout the theater reminiscent of “The Bright Stream”!
The stepsisters have some difficult choreography to tackle—it must be painful to walk on pointe like that, and it can’t be easy to do some of those crazy steps and seemingly-mishandled lifts—but Messmer and Riccetto (with the help of Roman Zhurbin and Julio Bragado-Young) pulled them off wonderfully. One friend commented, “it must be so much fun to be a stepsister!”
They nearly stole the show during the bows and curtain call too. Riccetto came onstage looking lost; she asked Eric Tamm for directions, and finally Julio Bragado-Young stepped out and guided her to the front of the stage. Then she was completely taken aback when she was given her flowers. When Marcelo and Julie came out, she was drooling all over him, bowing to him instead of the audience and curling up against his side, until finally he stole her glasses.
Messmer pushed Ricetto aside and ran to greet the conductor (Ormsby Wilkins), who gamely lifted her off the floor into a huge bear hug. Too funny!
And in the curtain call, Ricetto went under the curtain and only stopped curtseying when Messmer dragged her offstage. Really, the bows were almost a whole show in themselves!
It was a wonderful evening. Now, on to “Swan Lake”!
Posted 26 June 2011 - 11:33 AM
One of the bright notes was Erica Cornejo's performance as one of the stepsisters. Her dancing and comedic timing were impeccable.
Posted 26 June 2011 - 11:40 AM
It was a wonderful evening. Now, on to “Swan Lake”!
I remember Erica Cornejo diving under the curtain for her curtain call too. It was very funny.
Posted 01 July 2011 - 10:45 AM
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