Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Cinderella in her coach in OU's ballet.
Photos by Wendy Mutz
By Nancy Condit

The University of Oklahoma's Festival Ballet presents a double bill of a new version of the storybook Christmas classic Cinderella, and Balanchine's Valse Fantasie 1953. Performances continue at 8 pm December 6th, 7th, and 8th, and at 3 pm on December 9th in the Donald W. Reynolds Performing Arts Center inside Holmberg Hall, Norman.

As part of their training, OU School of Dance students are prepared with the repertoire as well as the technique to perform many ballets. The school also preserves older works, especially as the appreciation and demand for dance grows. Cinderella, with The Nutcracker, are two of the most popular ballets performed during the holidays, and are regarded as money-makers for the presenting organizations, helping them continue to function the rest of the season.

The new version of Cinderella, set to Sergei Prokofiev's score, is choreographed by faculty member Steve Brule, and Mary Margret Holt, director of the School of Dance and artistic director of the OFB. The piece, set in the French Empire period, with costumes designed by Lloyd Cracknell, school of drama faculty member, has been changed from a full evening ballet into two acts.

"We wanted to turn the grand fairy tale into an intimate, more personal story," Holt said in the press release. "We focused on the heart of score, which is breathtaking, to help form the intimate feeling."

Co-choreographer Brule said, "I have adored this music from the very first time I heard the score, dancing at the Houston Ballet, and am very lucky to get to choreograph music that I have loved for years."

Melanie Jensen and Nicole Reehorst will alternately perform the role of Cinderella, Zeek Wright and Nathan Young will dance the Prince, Natalie Kischuk and Melanie Jensen will perform the role of the Fairy Godmothers, and Steve Brule and Donn Edwards will portray the Stepsisters. Brule is torn, since this is his final year with the School of Dance, but "it's great to be able to work with this great group, and Donn again, since he has retired from the School of Dance faculty."

George Balanchine's Valse Fantaisie, staged by Leslie Peck from the Balanchine Trust, is described as "a light charming ballet" set to Mikhail Glinka's music. "The wonderfully melodic waltz is made richer with echoes of slightly melancholic undertones," Holt said in the press release.

In The New York Times review about the January 1953 premiere, John Martin wrote, “Balanchine has set three of his most enchanting ballerinas in a kind of perpetuum mobile, dainty, lilting, fleet and studied with brilliance. A partner attends them all, less to dance in his own right than to serve as an adjunct to their dancing.  The music, winning and melodious, with no break, no change of tempo, passes from persuasiveness to virtual hypnosis, and it is easy to realize why once the genteel waltz was considered an instrument of the devil” [from the press release].

Tickets are $22 for adults and $18 for senior adults, OU faculty and staff, military, and $14 for students. For tickets, please call the fine Arts Box Office at 405.325.4101 M-F 11:30 am - 5:30 pm. They are also available at the door one hour before performance with check or cash.

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