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Cinderella - Spring 2011

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Murphy and Hallberg were glamorous and gorgeous as Cinderella and Her Prince Charming tonight. But Kristi Boone and especially Luciana Paris as the stepsisters nearly stole the show! Paris' physical humor and comic timing were PRICELESS!

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!

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I saw the Kudelka Cinderella when ABT first danced it. I think it was 2005 or 2006. One of the biggest negatives I remember was during the ball scene both the costumes and lighting were very dark. It was just about impossible to see the dancers' lines. Is this still the case? (I'm not seeing Cinderella this year. I swiched it for the Daniil Simkin Don Q.)

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I saw the dress rehearsal on Tuesday and LOVED everything about the production--the dancing, the choreography, the music (especially without Prokofiev's R&J this season I had been going through Prokofiev withdrawal), everything! Well, okay, I might eliminate the photographer, who seems somehow superfluous. Never having seen this production before, I was expecting mostly slapstick pantomime, via the stepmother and stepsisters, but instead there was gorgeous classical dancing throughout. With three different casts, one for each act, the dress rehearsal was an abundance of riches. I especially loved Stella Abrera (I always do) and Julie Kent (I always do). Will see a fourth cast this evening and will report anything that seems pertinent. I highly recommend this ballet.

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I saw two casts- Wed matinee w. Abrera-Cote and last night w. Murphy-Hallberg. Murphy and Hallberg were fantastic, but the choreography in this ballet is so weak and dull. Murphy has great elevation and speed. Hallberg has goregous lines and feet. It was a pleasure to see them together. However, this ballet offers very little in the way of masterful choreography, and at 2 1/2 hours, it's a long, dull night. I didn't think Abrera and Cote were as good as Murphy-Hallberg. I like Stella very much, but one can see lapses in her technique, especially in comparison to Murphy. Cote was a strong partner, but I didn't think his solos were particularly well executed. Also, the lack of chemistry between them was evident.

Onwards to Swan Lake.

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You're right. I saw the ballet again on Friday evening and IMHO it didn't hold up on second viewing, even with Murphy and Hallberg in the leading roles. My overall feeling was: too much stepsisters! They were fun, but enough was enough. Also, although I always love Hallberg and his beautiful line, it's shown to much better effect in classical garb rather than a suit! So the ballet was fun and inventive the first time round, but I don't think I'll go again in succeeding years unless Stella is dancing the lead. I'll go to see anything in which Stella dances the leading role. After Coppelia and Cinderella, I'm more than ready for Swan Lake!

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Before I write about Saturday night’s performance, I have a little confession to make…

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. :wink:


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. :P

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”!

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I saw the Kudelka Cinderella when ABT first danced it. I think it was 2005 or 2006. One of the biggest negatives I remember was during the ball scene both the costumes and lighting were very dark. It was just about impossible to see the dancers' lines. Is this still the case?

I agree. I remember the lighting and set design made it difficult to see the dancers' lines and being disappointed in Cinderella's costumes.

One of the bright notes was Erica Cornejo's performance as one of the stepsisters. Her dancing and comedic timing were impeccable.

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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”!

I remember Erica Cornejo diving under the curtain for her curtain call too. It was very funny.

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That's one dreadful, charmless production. I hated it when ABT did it several year ago, I thought I'd give another try or two and hated it even more this time. ABT should have scheduled the run while the Danes were here so I could have devoted more time across the plaza. I think the timing of the run was deliberate when all the competitions had already left town. I wish ABT would stage Ashton Cinderella, to me Ashton's is the standard bearer.

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