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Clowes Memorial Hall of Butler University
United States
Indianapolis, IN

Butler Ballet's 'Cinderella' filled with magic moments

by Rita Kohn
April 25, 2014
Clowes Memorial Hall of Butler University
4602 Sunset Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46208
This review was originally published in NUVO Newsweekly, Indianapolis, IN.

Rita Kohn is a member of the Board of the Dance Critics Association.
Butler Ballet's visually lovely production of "Cinderella" with the Butler Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Stanley DeRusha rounded out Butler University's 2014 ArtsFest Encore Weekend. The ballet highlighted the relationship between physics and dance outlined in a pre-performance chat between Mark Kesling, science educator and president of The Da Vinci Pursuit and Cynthia Pratt, Butler professor of dance and choreographer. They brought us to conclude that there aren't even six degrees of separation between physics and dance. Rather, "physics is at work with art," and an understanding of the laws of gravity and the mechanics of motion allows a dancer to bring depth and breadth to characterization and choreography.

Sergei Prokofiev 's opening music leads us into a sense of flight, lightness and openness that Karl Kaufman captures in his minimalist, suggestive scenic design, further augmented by Anthony Bauer's lighting and Kathleen Egan's costumes. With choreography by Marek Cholewa, Patrick Hinson, Stephan Laurent, Michelle Jarvis, Susan McGuire and Cynthia Pratt, the emphasis on clarity of mime richly enhances the storytelling.
Zachary Kukla and Stuart Coleman as the contentious stepsisters, Skinny and Dumpy, give the illusion of defying gravity as they slapstick their way through every scene with flops and flips, slopes and slips along with a lot fine dancing. Audrey Robson embodies the Cat with endearing charm. Katherine Currier illuminates with grace the essential qualities of kindness and gifts of seasons along with Jourdan Morales as Spring Fairy, Micaelina Ritschl as Summer, Felicity Nicholson as Autumn and Sally Shenkman as Winter. Erica Johnston conversely gives unkindness its chilly edge as Stepmother. Christopher Bokeko brings depth to being a friend to the Prince, who equally shows loyalty to his found-and-lost true love. Christian Griggs-Drane as the Prince and Margaret Carey as Cinderella meld beautifully as they move into the magic moments of swirling into love. The large cast nicely adds to the many supporting characters. As always, the Butler Ballet Orchestra conducted by Stanley DeRusha, lends richness to the experience.

The April 26 performance was preceded by Jeff Gooch speaking about "Physics beyond Fairy Tales: Modern Projection Techniques for Dance and Theatre," which this reviewer did not attend.
Butler Ballet's Christian Griggs-Drane and Micaelina Ritschl in 'Cinderella'. Photo courtesy of Butler Ballet.

Butler Ballet's Christian Griggs-Drane and Micaelina Ritschl in "Cinderella". Photo courtesy of Butler Ballet.

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