REVIEW: Girlyman and Coyote Grace at The Triple Door

Review: Emilie at ArtsWest is a triumph.

February 5, 2011 Comments (1) Views: 1747 #Theater and Stage, Arts & Entertainment, Nightlife, Reviews, Stage

Review: PNB’s Cinderella is engaging and opulent dance theater.

Maria Chapman, Chalnessa Eames, and Lindsi Dec in PNB's "Cinderella". Photo: Angela Sterling/PNB.

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s current production of Sergei Prokofiev’s Cinderella is a master class marriage of engaging theatricality, opulent visual design and impeccable dancing. It is easily one of the most memorable and seemingly effortless ballets in recent memory. We all deserve to dream and enjoy fantasy in our lives. Cinderella provides a prolific escapism designed to enthrall its audience during every single minute the story unfolds. This classic story is both immensely relatable and deceptively adult.

Cinderella has not been within PNB’s repertoire for nine years and this is the first time it has been staged in McCaw Hall. To describe the set design as opulent and lavish would be an understatement. PNB left no detail untouched and recreated a decadent and deeply luxurious version of Cinderella’s world. The beautiful sets only helped to enhance the magical aura of the evening. According to Gary Tucker, “When creating his ballet in 1994, Kent Stowell focused on the spirit of the story, drawn from the original French fairy tale by Charles Perrault, to develop the ballet’s romantic and tender themes, a narrative of “love lost, and love found.” Roles for the entire Company, as well as some of Stowell’s most endearing creations for PNB School students, combine with more than 120 elaborately detailed costumes and vast painted backdrops to transport Cinderella from her softly illuminated memories, through misty magical landscapes to, at last, a royal palace adorned with Rococo frescos and crystal chandeliers. Here, in the midst of a swirling, scarlet-clad ballroom, Cinderella and her prince flash like precious diamonds in one of PNB’s most breathtaking moments.”

Tucker adds, “Restoring the continuity of Cinderella’s story and its feeling became Stowell’s guiding principle in the design of PNB’s production. Central to this conception is the contrast between the Real World and the Dream World of Cinderella’s experience. A young woman whose beloved mother has died and whose father has remarried, in reverie she revisits the happiness of the past even as she tries to cope bravely with the unhappiness of her new home life. When her fairy godmother appears, and is the same dancer as the memory-mother it is clear that the love Cinderella experienced as a child remains with her into adulthood—a deep store of wisdom and hope to guide her towards future happiness. As she meets the Prince at the ball in Act II and as he searches for and finds her in Act III, the emphasis is steadily on the realization of a love relationship which restores a lost wholeness.

Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in the ball scene from Kent Stowell’s Cinderella. Photo © Angela Sterling

The true gems of the evening, however, were the spirited and effortless performances of the entire company. Not a single dancer turned in a bad routine, which again elevated the experience of the evening. This opening night gala featured an outstanding turn from veteran dancer Lesley Rausch as Cinderella. In addition to her technical prowess, Rausch created a relatable and moving version of Cinderella. As always, this is incredibly impressive when no dialogue exists. Other standout performances included Olivier Wevers, Carrie Imier, Jeffrey Stanton and Jonathan Porretta as the Dancing Master, Fairy Godmother, Prince and Jester respectively. All of these dancers were technically on point and imbued their characters with memorable whimsy and humor. Surprisingly, Cinderella was just as comedic as it was dramatic.

The entire story was split into three 45 minute acts. Act one contained all of the events until Cinderella leaves for the ball, act two is comprised entirely of the ball and act three concludes the story. While the entire ballet was impressively strong, act two was the true highlight of the evening. With almost no scene changes, act two was like a 45 minute movie, filled with romance, intrigue, humor and a bit of suspense. The choreography for the guests of the ball was classic and restrained, which allowed the duets between Cinderella and her Prince to truly shine under the glorious atmosphere of romance. Overall, the choreography was fairly clean and restrained, with the dancers making full use of their space. As a result, the sharp execution of the classic choreography provided an interesting subtle contrast.

More than anything else, Cinderella is brilliant work that all ages can truly enjoy. There was something for everyone to appreciate, from the most astute dancers to the casual novice. Instead of simply presenting yet another technically perfect ballet, PNB has honestly created an experience. For three hours you are pulled into a magical world, with no cares other than the journey of Cinderella. As beautiful and difficult as ballet is, certain renditions can fail to fully capture the attention of its audience. Cinderella does not at all fall into that category. In this instance, I truly appreciated the mixing of classical choreography with hints of more modern influences, which helped to keep its appeal widespread. This inspired, creatively full production is a must see. Hopefully, this show will become a more regular addition to PNB’s repertoire. Cinderella is playing through February 13th.

Tags: ,

One Response to Review: PNB’s Cinderella is engaging and opulent dance theater.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Seattle Gay Scene, Bill W.. Bill W. said: Review: PNB’s Cinderella is engaging and opulent dance theater. […]