'Cinderella' ballet is a witty take on a classic
There are many ways to tell any story, no less in dance than in words or music.
One of the joys and burdens Terrence Orr experiences as artistic director of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is to decide which version of a popular ballet, such as “Cinderella,” to choose for his dancers and the audience.
Orr likes Septime Webre's version of “Cinderella, which the ballet performed in 2009.
“He has a true understanding of the Cinderella story — what dreams are made of and what better dream than being with the person you love,” Orr says.
The Webre version also has the advantage of a humorous treatment of the stepsisters who make Cinderella's life miserable.
“It's always great to hear kids laughing in the audience,” Orr says. “I remember from the last time we did it, and I feel the cast is even stronger this time.”
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will perform Webre's “Cinderella” April 19 to 21 at the Benedum Center, Downtown. Sergei Prokofiev's score will be performed live by Charles Barker and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Orchestra.
Four rotating casts will be employed in “Cinderella.” In addition, 20 children from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School will portray the enchanted garden creatures, such as bumblebees, snow angels and butterflies, who are brought to life by the Fairy Godmother.
Alexandra Kochis is one of the four dancers assigned the title role. She likes Webre's version because it, unlike other productions she's been involved with, tries to make it a fairly tale.
“He doesn't try to make it realistic. The stepsisters are super over-the-top and comedic. The kids love it, but it's hard (for me) to be the straight person onstage while they're being so ridiculous.”
Kochis also likes the way Webre brings out the dreamer quality in Cinderella.
“In the kitchen scene, when she's by herself, it's not just 64 counts of dancing,” she says. “Her changes of thought when she gets ideas to do something fun, the dreamer quality within her, is what helps you get through the drudgery of her life. The music helps because it does ebb and flow. You really can get carried away with yourself and then come down to earth.”
Steve Hadala is looking forward to playing one of the stepsisters again because they're the next big roles after Cinderella, and Webre's choreography is such fun to do.
“When it's two guys paired up getting to goof around for two hours, it's going to be a good time under a controlled situation. A drag role, a man dressed up like a woman, can go so quickly into poor taste, but our sheer size and build makes wearing a dress half the joke. I do some over-the-top things but more of it is an imitation of ‘Swan Lake' arms and steps. I just want to be a giant guy looking like a giant swan.”
Barker says it's tough to choose his favorite Prokofiev score between “Romeo and Juliet” and “Cinderella,” but, while both are great, “Cinderella” has a certain sparkle that “Romeo” doesn't.
“One of the key things I go for in the rehearsals with the orchestra is to sound as witty and brilliant, as keen and precise, as Prokofiev wanted,” he says
In his view, the first three notes of the ballet tell the members of the audience to be prepared for something much greater than they expected. The Russian composer's inspiration never flags in this score.
“The penultimate piece in the ballet, a pas de deux, contains everything — all the emotions, all the love and outpouring of the human soul — all in six minutes,” he says. “I would be hard pressed to come up with a more beautiful piece ever written.”
Mark Kanny is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Linebacker Harrison coming along slowly since return to Steelers
- Steelers notebook: Shazier returns just in time
- Foundation arranges free maid service for women with cancer
- New Kensington to convert tennis courts to dek hockey rink
- After sluggish 1st half, McKeesport rolls past Kiski Area
- America’s manufacturing comeback
- Komen acceptance of drilling-linked money raises ire
- District 9 roundup: Redbank Valley QB sets state’s single-game passing record
- Steelers’ Adams delivers in pinch against Texans
- Penguins notebook: Carcillo has no hard feelings after failing to make roster
- Corbett, Wolf resort to sticks, stones to attract attention