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BWW Review: NEW YORK THEATRE BALLET Presents a Classical CINDERELLA Filled With Imagination And Wonder

BWW Review: NEW YORK THEATRE BALLET Presents a Classical CINDERELLA Filled With Imagination And Wonder

At the Florence Gould Hall, just a two avenues away from The Plaza, my April 17, 2016 morning began. Parents, family, friends, and above all, children were ready to see New York Theatre Ballet's (NYTB) version of Cinderella at 11 AM. Many little girls were dressed to impress as the fairy tale character, while the boys were looking good in their Sunday best. For them, this would be animation come to life.

Before the ballet commenced, NYTB Artistic Director Diana Byer welcomed us with a few words and with her tiny helpers. Nine dancers, roughly ages eight to ten, demonstrated ballet and various dance positions with Ms. Byer's instructions. The children in the audience, who ranged from two to eight years old were encouraged to participate in front of their seats. This was a wonderful idea because it made the children feel part of the performance. Also, since little ones are a bundle of energy, this interaction helped to focus them after a bit of moving around. It was adorable.

I had an up-close and personal view of this production from Row B. The seats were tiered, which allowed for a clearer aspect to see the details of the dancers' footwork. Many New York venues do not offer this layout, and anything closer than the eighth row only shows a dancer from the knees up.

Cinderella-What a fun production this was! Moments like the oversized clock with four feet doing a jig in order to warn Cinderella about being cautious of her time at the ball was clever and lighthearted. The moving scenery was beautifully designed and allowed for smooth transitions of the ballet's three scenes-Cinderella at Home, The Palace, and Cinderella's Home the Morning after the Ball. Of the seventeen characters, several dancers did double duty. And each dancer contributed as a committed cast member of this company. The Stepsisters, Michel Kilby and Michael Wells, stole the show with their antics that revealed the competition between the two. The change of Cinderella, from the scullery maid into the resplendent guest of the prince's royal ball, was like magic. The timing of this sleight of costume change was a professional coup.

The classical dance choreography was created with much musicality to the score by the famous composer Sergei Prokofiev. Being a dancer myself, I can fully appreciate when someone is "on their leg." This means that on arabesques, posés, and various other single moves en pointe, a dancer does not move at all. That morning's Cinderella, Amanda Treiber, and her Fairy Godmother, Elena Zahlmann, were absolutely "on their leg." I loved that because it meant that the choreography was correctly in tune with their bodies.

When the three guest couples at the ball had the stage, they emoted in character and presented their ballet skills with their best feet forward. Clean dancing all around. Ms. Treiber and her prince, Steven Melendez, exhibited chemistry. Even with that, Mr. Melendez was aware of her timing during a tandem glide across the stage. At one point, he did not have her fully on her leg in the partnered pirouettes. However, he rectified it instantaneously. That's a sign of a great partner! Live theater can throw a performer curve balls when least expected, but it is how you recover from them that matters. My only concern was that the pas de deux of Cinderella and the Prince was choreographed a little too safely. I wanted to see more pyrotechnics such as numerous finger-pirouettes, an a la seconde pirouette into penché, or even an attitude promenade into a sustained arabesque balance (Sleeping Beauty style). These two were very capable of that. Maybe for the next production of Cinderella?

Ballet is a world of imagination and movement. The use of gestures without real cups in hand, the setting of an actual large mansion surrounding the performers, nor a window to look out from is there. Nevertheless, the children and I followed our imaginations to see into NYTB's production of this beloved story.

Photo Credits: Christopher Duggan (Cinderella & Prince) & Morah Geist (Messenger with two Step Sisters)



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From This Author Marsha Volgyi

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