Ballet West has been enticing crowds to Capitol Theater over the past few weeks with its charming performance of Cinderella. The classic tale is set to a charismatic score by Sergei Prokofiev; lively music that enhances the storyline, sets the mood and provides the energy for each scene. And the dancers, in their beautiful sparkly costumes, are simply breathtaking in their performance.
I usually keep to the opera realm of the performance arts world, but decided to give the ballet a chance when a friend wanted to go. A week afterward another friend extended an invitation, so I got to see Cinderella twice! I know next-to-nothing about ballet, other than it’s really pretty to watch and incredibly difficult to do. In fact, during the first fifteen minutes of Act I, I was half-expecting the dancers to break out in operatic song. Once my anticipation of singing subsided, I was pleasantly surprised at how well a story was conveyed completely through movement. It was just as beautiful, sensual and touching as an opera, all spoken through body language.
The story of Cinderella is truly timeless. The basic components of the folk story can be traced back to a similar tale in Ancient Greek dating to the 1st Century B.C. There are hundreds of variations all around the world, most involving a young girl living in an unfortunate situation and suffering mistreatment by her step-family, whose luck drastically changes for the better thanks to a mysterious character (like a fairy, eagle or other animal) helping her win the love of the prince. It turns out that the Disney version so many of us are familiar with is yet another reincarnation of a story that has been around for thousands of years.The story has been adapted hundreds of times into every art form imaginable. Next month I’ll be seeing the opera version in Los Angeles, written in 1817. (This one is by Rossini, however, several other famous composers, like Massenet, also wrote variations.) The ballet version is rather recent, written in 1945. It is lively and fun, beautiful and breathtaking. Unfortunately all of Ballet West’s performances of Cinderella are now over, but they will be performing another Disney favorite, Aladdin, in April.
While my first love will always be for opera, Ballet West convinced me that there might be enough room in my heart for ballet, too. Cinderella was such a mesmerizing, enjoyable performance–even the second time I saw it–that it has me planning on getting tickets for Aladdin.