About the Author:
American Ballet Theatre: Cinderella
American Ballet Theatre
Metropolitan Opera House
Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Georgina Parkinson, Kirk Peterson
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 6, 2006 and June 7, 2006
Cinderella (2006): Choreography by James Kudelka, Music by Sergei Prokofiev, Asst. to the Choreographer, Mandy-Jayne Richardson, Scenery and Costume Design by David Boechler, Lighting Design by Christopher Dennis.
June 6, 2006: Conductor: David LaMarche, Performed by Xiomara Reyes as Cinderella, Guillaume Coté as Her Prince Charming, Sasha Dmochowski as Her Stepmother, Simone Messmer as Her Stepsister, Maria Riccetto as Her Other Stepsister, Georgina Parkinson as Fairy Godmother, Kenneth Easter as A Hired Escort, Julio Bragado-Young as Another Hired Escort, Misty Copeland as Blossom, Marian Butler as Petal, Stella Abrera as Moss, Veronica Part as Twig, Kirk Peterson as A Photojournalist, Jared Matthews, Jesus Pastor, Sascha Radetsky, Gennadi Saveliev as Four Officers, and the Company as A Jeweler, A Dressmaker, His Assistant, A Makeup Artist, A Dancing Instructor, Groom, Justice of the Peace, Father of the Bride, Ring Bearer, Garden Creatures, Pumpkins, Ladies and Bachelors, A Shoe Salesman, The Shoemakers, A Customer, Ladies with/out Shoes, and Wedding Guests, and students of the JKO School at ABT as Bridesmaids.
June 7, 2006: Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Performed by Julie Kent as Cinderella, Marcelo Gomes as Her Prince Charming, Martine Van Hamel as Her Stepmother, Carmen Corella as Her Stepsister, Erica Cornejo as Her Other Stepsister, Susan Jones as Fairy Godmother, Isaac Stappas as A Hired Escort, Craig Salstein as Another Hired Escort, Misty Copeland as Blossom, Maria Riccetto as Petal, Stella Abrera as Moss, Veronica Part as Twig, Kirk Peterson as A Photojournalist, Jared Matthews, Jesus Pastor, Sascha Radetsky, Gennadi Saveliev as Four Officers, and the Company as A Jeweler, A Dressmaker, His Assistant, A Makeup Artist, A Dancing Instructor, Groom, Justice of the Peace, Father of the Bride, Ring Bearer, Garden Creatures, Pumpkins, Ladies and Bachelors, A Shoe Salesman, The Shoemakers, A Customer, Ladies with/out Shoes, and Wedding Guests, and students of the JKO School at ABT as Bridesmaids.
With the rapturous Prokofiev Cinderella theme still dancing in my head, after two consecutive nights of James Kudelka's National Ballet of Canada re-make for American Ballet Theatre (ABT), including its embedded Love for Three Oranges theme, I just cannot stop thinking of the second act pas de deux, those sweeping, sensual lifts that always occur with the moment of mutual discovery, such as the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet, the first lakeside dance in Swan Lake, etc. But, the romantic scenes I set in re-play are those of Kent-Gomes, rather than of Reyes-Coté. It has always been my theory that intense charisma of main characters (in a story ballet) and especially chemistry between the two lucky or star-crossed lovers is pre-eminent in the success of the performance as a whole.
Guillaume Coté was a last minute replacement for Angel Corella, who regularly partners Xiomara Reyes, an ingénue dancer. He seemed to dance well enough and know how to execute all the tricky lifts and carrying about the stage, as well as the dynamic travel scenes to find the owner of the "lost slipper", but he was internalized, focusing on his dance and his debut with ABT. At times, Ms. Reyes looked like a younger, smaller sister, rather than the object of desire. However, individually, they each created refreshing interpretations of their respective roles, and Ms. Reyes possesses superb theatrical skills. Yet, back to Julie Kent - I have never seen her so absorbed and emotionally mature, and each and every motion and nuance was absolute to the moment.
Marcelo Gomes, who had been injured last year, was in the rarest physical and psychic form. He catapulted about the stage in the world-wide chase, legs like scissors cutting through space, and the way he held his torso, his hands, his face, was so princely, so entranced, so "charismatic". This is a partnership that is in its prime. The second night cast also brought us Martine Van Hamel (I still own her signed slippers from quite some time ago) as Her Stepmother, a heavy drinker who knew the walk and each requisite reaction to her loss of control. Sasha Dmochowski held her own in this role. Erica Cornejo deserves an award for her vaudevillian role as Her Other Stepsister (Maria Riccetto over-acted the ADD-styled hyperactivity). Carmen Corella seemed more humorously bonded to the act with her "Other" sister than did Simone Messmer (with Ms. Riccetto).
Kudelka's ballet, and, specifically, David Boechler's scenic and costume design, builds on surreal, deco, and gothic themes, set into a 1930 "ish" time period. In the surreal mode, there is a luminous, round, white moon, plus round white lamps hung from the rafters. Art deco orange-white flowers, framed in black, are set in the expansive décor and backdrops, with pumpkin patches and pumpkin-headed men in tuxedoes, who mark the bewitching midnight transformation of Cinderella's glistening ball gown to near naked emptiness (there's gothic innuendo in this scene). The almost contemporary costumes for the dance are black on white, against, yes, pale orange for Cinderella's dress, and the garden creatures have orange against greens and pastels in the floating, chiffon petals and wings. There are little fans that hypnotize dancers into disappearing, so that Cinderella and Her Prince Charming can have the stage to themselves.
There is also an expansive sky with sunny clouds or rain-swept darkness, plus Cinderella's suburban kitchen with wooden cabinets and glassware, a shoe store, a chandelier-lit ballroom, and the most exquisite, giant, pumpkin coach, with orange streamers and puffy lounges, floating from the sky, carrying the jewel-bedecked Cinderella to the ball. I suspect that we will hear more of David Boechler. The remaining cast, some of whom performed each night, was splendid, including Kirk Peterson (Artistic Director, ABT Studio Co.) as the paparazzo (titled photojournalist) with a trench coat and period flash camera, and the Hired Escorts, with both casts equally well dressed, skilled in the (American) Tango, and quite entertaining. On May 30, Marian Butler was especially effervescent as Petal, along with Blossom, Moss, and Twig, Misty Copeland, Stella Abrera, and Veronica Part (all three of whom danced each night).
The Prince's chase for the owner of the one glittery toe shoe was enhanced by striking choreography for Four Officers, same cast both nights. In white suits, matched by the Prince in the same attire, they flew and drove and wandered with repetitive arm movement, aerobics, and pantomime that were riveting. This Cinderella had a thematic conscience with political correctness, and Cinderella, the ingénue, "saved" the Prince from his shallow, egotistical contemporaries, and the Prince "saved" Cinderella from her egotistical, dysfunctional family. They end the ballet in a garden, by a gated hearth and pumpkin patch, and the wedding is simple and small. Ironically, with some confusion, this three act ballet began with another small wedding, in top hat and veil, but the dancers were crawling on knees to present short stature in a smoky haze. The JKO students at ABT would have been perfect, better than these dwarf-like, surreal theatrics.
Christopher Dennis' lighting design gave this sumptuous ballet, with an especially sumptuous score, an eclectic series of lighting effects. The hearth and garden scenes, with smoky haze, added to the gothic mood. Georgina Parkinson (May 30) and Susan Jones (May 31), the Fairy Godmothers, entered and exited through such a hazy fireplace, with larger than life cane, costuming, and characterization. The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis students (in their first year at this new ballet school) were quite talented in the Bridesmaid roles, and the entire Company was in Cinderella mode. In fact, at curtain calls, David LaMarche and Ormsby Wilkins were literally attacked by the campy Stepsisters, as they took their bows. Kudos to James Kudelka, and kudos to Kevin McKenzie.
Guillaume Côté in the National Ballet of Canada's production of Cinderella.
Photo courtesy of Cylla Von Tiedemann
Julie Kent in Cinderella.
Photo courtesy of Gene Schiavone
Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes in Cinderella.
Photo courtesy of Gene Schiavone