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Cinderella

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No opinions on the new Cinderella yet? After indulging in several performances of the Stravinsky program I was planning to skip Cinders - unless my fellow posters absolutely love it. I was hoping for some first night feedback before I buy my 4th ring tickets for next week. Do I need to keep 1 night free for ABT?

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We had seen a small preview of the ballet and a discussion with James Kudelka a few weeks ago at the Guggenheim's Works & Process program. Based on that I was not sure how I would feel about this ballet. We saw the performance last night and absolutely loved it. First Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes are two of our favorite dancers and I can't add to anything that has not already been said on this board about both of them. She is so ethereal and delicate a dancer it is a pleasure to watch her. We both loved the pas de deux in the last act.

Both stepsisters were hilarious. When denied Prince Charming any man would do. They even went after the conductor, Ormsby Wilkins, when he came on to take his bows. However, MVP has to go to Erica Cornejo as "Her Other Stepsister." She played that comedic role for all it was worth. The ridiculous glasses probably gave her an edge of Carmen Corella. She came out from under the curtain to take her final bow. What is not clear is how much of Erica’s performance was at Kudelka’s direction or of her own inspiration.

There appear to have been some in jokes as well. At one point when the Prince is searching the world for Cinderella he ends up in a cold climate. A person (creature?) comes out wearing coat with stripes. My wife pointed out that it was the design of a blanket that used to be sold by the Hudson Bay Company. Even the program was part of the joke. In the synopsis it says about the Prince's ball, "Cinderella's stepsisters were accomplished social climbers and somehow they managed to wangle invitations for themselves."

The audience loved it.

An aside about audience behavior to give us all some perspective on ABT. I am a big "ssssher" when it comes to talking. I could hear the couple next to us and gave them a big "ssshhh." Usually when you do this people usually keep quiet and nothing more is said. At the intermission the man leaned over an apologized effusively. He explained that they were visiting New York from Sweden and he was so excited about seeing ABT dance that he got carried away. Of course that made me feel a little guilty. However, at the next intermission we had a good conversation about New York and Sweden.

We saw Le Corsaire on the 23rd when it was Latin night. We were totally blown away with that performance which has been so adequately described by other people on the board. Last night was another gem. So far ABT is batting 1000 this season. It's a major reason why live in New York.

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Both stepsisters were hilarious. When denied Prince Charming any man would do. They even went after the conductor, Ormsby Wilkins, when he came on to take his bows.

Oh dear, one of those Cinderellas.

Pardon me for my bad taste, but for me those hilarious stepsisters are the modern equivalent of the Swan Lake Jester.

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You may see a photo of the first cast's sisters in ABT's program. Playbill has just posted the program's Cinderella feature on line. It includes a detailed history of the story:

The earliest documented version of her story dates from around 900 A.D. in Tang Dynasty China, although researchers have tracked down ur-Cinderellas as far back as ancient Egypt, where a sandal of gold was the telltale footwear.

http://www.playbillarts.com/features/article/4612.html

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Just got back from the matinee - a very entertaining ballet. Something for everyone.

Gillian Murphy was sweetly vulnerable - David Hallberg a regal powerhouse. Their

dances together had a lot of Cranko-like lifts and tosses. There was a lot of dancing

for the corps - the garden creatures, and of course the ball-goers. The ball gowns

were all black and silver 1920s fashion - the men handsome in white tie and tails.

The stepmother wasn't wicked but was a hilarious parody, drinking from flasks

hidden in the kitchen set. She reminded me of Carol Burnett in one of her

character sketches. I liked these stepsisters much more than the "drag" sisters

from other productions. I saw Kristi Boone and Marian Butler and they were

genuinely funny, and yes, they stayed in character even in the curtain calls.

There seemed to be additional music- even a tune from Prokofiev's Lt. Kije.

Or maybe I had never heard the whole score. I had only seen TV versions before.

The sets and costumes are art-deco inspired and the whole production is

new and inventive. I loved it and would recommend it , NY Susan.

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Kudelka choreographed the bows, as well, so the performance goes on..........

Looking forward to seeing it next week......

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Cinderella Lite. An enjoyable evening but no masterpiece. This is a dense & complex score & that is not reflected in the choreography, which is lightweight & predictable. Perhaps Murphy or Reyes can make more of the title character than Kent, but there isn't much to work with choreographically.

Herman Stevens: I agree the joker is annoying in Swan Lake but he is extraneous to the plot whereas the wicked stepsisters in Cinderella are integral to the plot. But the Grand Guignol behavior of Kudelka's stepsisters turns them into principal characters in this version & Cinderella herself pales by comparison, at least in Act I.

The sets are lovely, more Arts & Crafts to Art Nouveau period than Deco, with their organic designs & the flapper era costumes are wonderful. There is more wit & invention in the physical production than there is in the cheoreography.

But danced with joy & brio & well conducted & played.

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I enjoyed last evening a lot. True, as Zerbinetta writes, there isn't a lot of involved choreography. This is almost like a hybrid piece, part ballet, some dance, a bit of ballroom, pantomime, a lot of theater, and so on.

All of this elements were matched to the score very sensitively. And from a dramatic point of view things were in pretty good balance, the step sisters were over the top but them came and went instead of hogging up whole blocks of time. And they were women!!!!!!

I hate the drag versions of the stepsisters.

I liked Cinderella's daydreams in Act 1 when the figures floated out of the hearth. But there's a lot of other nice detail too. Plenty of magic, as is apropos.

Julie Kent was good without projecting too much, same as Marcello Gomes, textbook Prince Charming that he is. Their two pdd went pretty well but I suspect this need some more time to settle in.

So if you want to see a classical ballet, don't go, otherwise it's a lot of fun. I walked out with a big smile on my face.

Richard

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Zerbinetta,

I think you have made some some good observations. After my original post my wife and I talked about the ballet on and off all day. As much as we enjoyed the evening and the final pas de deux it is hard to remember any of the choreography or dancing that was particularly notable. When one injects comedic characters like the stepsisters into central roles in a ballet there is always a danger that their presence will distract from the dancing. You may end up with a comedy with some ballet in it, rather than a ballet that has comedic roles. I don't think that Kudelka did this but he certainly comes close to crossing the line. In the end it was still a very enjoyable evening.

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I am in the same camp as MarkD, richard53dog, and zerbinetta. The production was a success on its own terms without providing as much classical dancing as one might like. I thought the references to Jazz Age social dance were apt, and kept things moving along nicely in Act II, the strongest act.

On the question of the stepsisters: Erica Cornejo absolutely triumphed as the Other Stepsister. I rarely laugh out loud at any type of performance. I did repeatedly last night, and the rest of the audience was with me. Given her performance, I wouldn't want the sisters to be any less prominent. We've discussed in other threads how rare successful comedy is in ballet. The qualities she showed—fearlessness, heart, and the willingness to look ugly or silly—are valuable in any dramatic context. Ashton's stepsisters are said to overshadow Cinderella in his version too, but we have heard about great performances by Shearer, Fonteyn, Grey, Sibley, Cojocaru, et al. I think the burden is on the individual performers to create the right balance, but I also find I cannot fault Cornejo for stealing the show.

I think the way to set Cinderella and Prince Charming apart is by giving them the best classical choreography. In the Ashton version, Anthony Dowell didn't have to do anything other than dance beautifully and nobly. But that was enough for me, and certainly something Gomes and Hallberg could pull of as well. I think it's okay for Prince Charming to be more an icon than a person. To be fair, the Kudelka choreography of soft leaps, waltz steps, and pirouettes opening into developpes was very flattering to Gomes. Or vice versa?

I thought Act I was the weakest act. My father, who had never seen any version of Cinderella, felt that Cinderella's dance with the broomstick wasn't really developed and was an obvious missed opportunity.

I may check out Gillian Murphy in the role. I can imagine that this tomboy version suits her better than a more traditional version would.

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Is this production of Cinderella performed in three acts with an intermission between acts 2 and 3? I would like to see it some night this week but would have to leave early to catch the last train home at 10:30. I would only consider doing this if there was an intermission after the second act so that I could leave without disturbing others. Thanks for any advice you can offer.

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Glad to hear that this is beign enjoyed. I saw it several times here "at home" in Toronto. During one matinee I purposefully paid close attention the drunken stepmother and laughed out loud many times - sometimes when others weren't laughing at all because they were watching the "action" and I was watching things going on in the background. Anyway, this is definately a "feel-good" ballet for me.

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Advice anyone? I’m going to try to see Cinderella this coming Saturday. I’m leaning towards the evening performance with Reyes/Cote. I don’t really care which set of principals I see but I would love to catch van Hamel as the stepmother and the E Cornejo /C Corella set of stepsisters. Has anyone noticed if they’ve been keeping the first cast together or if the secondary roles have been independent of the principal casting (i.e. would I be more likely to see them at the Kent/Gomes matinee?) I could go to the matinee but there’s a Weese/Rutherford/Hubbe Concerto Barocco across the plaza. Decisions, decisions.

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I'd love to hear reports from people who saw the second casts of stepsisters. I saw Cornejo and Corella, and loved both. They are getting a lot of attention, but who else is doing these fun roles? And how are they?

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There are three complete casts for the stepmother & stepsisters roles. Different male & female foursomes in the second cast (don't know yet about the third as we won't see that until Saturday evening).

Kristi Boone is miles better than Carmen Corella in the tall stepsister role but Erica Cornejo is irreplaceable.

So is Martine in the stepmother role. Her timing is everything & that takes an old pro.

So if it's Martine & Erica, you'd be safer with the matinee. You could also call ABT & ask.

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I caught the Tuesday cast, led by Xiomara Reyes and Guillaume Cote. Stepmother: Sasha Dmochowski. Sisters: Simone Messmer (taller) and Maria Riccetto. FGM: Georgina Parkinson. Garden Quartet: Misty Copeland, Marion Butler (replacing Laura Hidalgo), Stella Abrera and Veronika Part.

When the curtain fell on Act III, my neighbor complained, "That was pretty anticlimactic!" Indeed. Cinderella's wedding was nothing like Aurora's or Kitri's. But as it settles with me, it seems very fitting. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Friends noted that the lighting has been brightened since the premiere. This is not to say it is blindingly bright. It is still dimly lit, but no night vision goggles are necessary.

You know what I hate? When a dancer I don't like turns in a really, really good performance! :beg: It forces me to reconsider my preconceptions. But Xiomara danced very well and gave a finely detailed characterization. This was no forlorn goody-two-shoes (actually, no shoes in Act I, and, well, we know the rest). No, she has a hidden defiant streak! And once at the ball, she does not fall for the prince hook-line-and sinker at first sight. He woos her, and she falls gradually. With each intensification of the music in the pas de deux, her discovery grows.

Not only because he originated the role at NBoC, but in any number of contexts, Cote has the stuff of a real Prince Charming. Handsome of face, elegant of dance, and a gallant partner. His dancing is more square-torsoed than New York audiences are accustomed to, a distinctly NBoC quality, but he was able to change the scale of his dancing, filling the stage.

The funny stuff again extended to the curtain calls. Stepsister #1, Simone Messmer, planted a couple of smackers on the fellow who presented her flowers. Riccetto lunged towards every male in sight. Both sisters made such a run for the conductor, he was forced to retreat to the wings until they were restrained.

I went to the theater a little confused. I expected to see the Kent-Gomes cast. But I'm not sorry I got this one!

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I would see the cast with E. Cornejo. Gomes and Kent are a fine pair.

BUT*******Reyes and Cote have such chemistry, it is worth it to see them dance, also!!! What a fine all-round dancer he is!!!!! ABT would be in great shape for years to come if they would sign him up!!!!! Reyes is blossoming into a world class ballerina just for her interpretive powers alone!!!!! Her dancing is more and more crystaline clear in her phrasing!!

Talk about instant partnership material!!!!!! Reyes & Cote, forever and ever!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I saw Gomes and Kent on Saturday afternoon. Gomes was every inch a modern day Prince, with a touch of Valentino; a welcome change from the usual Nordic ideal. Kent was a lovely Cinderella, and as far as I am concerned she can join the hallowed company of Fonteyn and Shearer. I, too, loved that final PDD; in the many lifts, Gomes had Kent literally floating on air. A highpoint, for me, was Veronika Part's voluptuous 'twig' variation; it left me wishing for more. Act 1 (as previously noted) was a bit tedious and could be speeded up; (I feel the same way a bout the Ashton version). The comic award goes to Martine van Hamel's subtle performance of the step-mother, topped off by her marvelous climb up the hutch cabinet. She looked like a blowsey Gloria Grahame. The step sisters were, as usual, overdone, and perhaps should be put in a recycling bin with the Joker. Cornejo brought back visions of Dvorevenko in some awful comic PDD where she also wore glasses. I did, however, like the ballet and particularly admired Kudelka's varied choreography for the Corps---both male and female. I adored the ending---they simply wanted home and hearth; talk about 'family values' - whew!.

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No way! You can't steal Cote from us here in Canada. I would just die!

Côté is indeed wonderful - beautiful long line and pointed feet. However, at ABT he would be one among many star male dancers whereas in Canada he is primo ballerino assoluto. I would say invite him again to guest in something and let's have some regular visits by the National Ballet of Canada!

I went on Saturday night for a second viewing having seen Julie Kent and Gomes on Wednesday night. My companion on Wednesday was seeing it for a second time and she told me it was much better on the second viewing. That was my reaction last night.

First of all, I think you need Xiomara to liven up the first act. Xiomara brought great personal investment to all the mundane tasks she was performing in the first act. She made us see a whole life of drudgery. Julie is not only more mature but has a swan-like beauty and serenity that made us see she will be a princess. With Xiomara, that was not the case - we saw a beleaguered and oppressed young girl with huge dreams that might not come true without a lot of help. Julie actually danced much of the choreography more beautifully given her wonderful long limbs and musicality but Xiomara broke your heart with every step.

I also preferred Georgina Parkinson as the Fairy Godmother to Susan Jones. Parkinson actually performs the same role in the Royal Ballet video of the Ashton ballet filmed in 1967 with Sibley and Dowell - in the Ashton it is a ballerina role on pointe. Whereas Susan Jones was a comfy, benevolent nanny figure, Parkinson was much more mysterious and eerily out of place - a visitor from some other world. Also there was a real connection between her and Xiomara.

Erica Cornejo is a comic powerhouse as the Other Stepsister due to her astonishing dance power and technique. Erica could go the comic mile with total physical abandon yet total control. Maria Riccetto was very nearly as funny in her characterization but her solo showed that she couldn't make the choreography as funny (the "shuffle off to Buffalo" on pointe section wasn't nearly as dazzling/ridiculous because she could only dance it very small without kicking up the legs as high or fast). I was very impressed with Simone Messmer as the bitchy vampy tall stepsister - a dancer I hadn't noticed before. Very strong stage presence and technique. Martine van Hamel definitely reminded me of Joanna Lumley as Patsy in "Absolutely Fabulous". She was more subtle yet just as funny as Sasha Dmochowski who needed more age makeup to establish her seniority to her daughters.

Marcelo Gomes was dazzling as the Prince - his faultless partnering during the tricky and intricate pas de deuxs with Julie was only part of the equation. The choreography fit his body very well from the long line, the jumps to the little rhumba moves in the second act social dances. He has a more imposing stage presence than the very youthful and boyish Côté though they are both superb dancers. I must mention that Julie danced gorgeously on Wednesday night and was lovely to watch and expressive. But Xiomara really connected me to her character in every moment in a way that Kent did not.

This is a very intricate and sometimes busy ballet and the second viewing helped me see many details I had missed the first time around. I love many of Kudelka's ideas like Cinderella gaining shoes with her ascension and in the last act having her dance on only one shoe showing her torn between two worlds and identities and in an awkward state. I also think that the sets and costumes are lovely and now I would definitely see this version again which I wasn't sure of after Wednesday night.

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