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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 7, 2020 - Volume 48 Issue 06
Pacific Northwest Ballet's Cinderella a gorgeous, romantic production
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Pacific Northwest Ballet's Cinderella a gorgeous, romantic production

by Sharon Cumberland - SGN A&E Writer

PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET
CINDERELLA
MARION OLIVER MCCAW HALL
January 31
(continues through 2/9)


Kent Stowell, one of Pacific Northwest Ballet's founders and one of its principal choreographers since 1977, has done something really interesting in his version of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella. In addition to the music Prokofiev wrote for his ballet in 1940-44, Stowell has included incidental music from the composer's other narrative works, including the "Mephisto Waltz" and his opera The Love of Three Oranges among other selections. This had the effect of extending the story so that Stowell could give the character of Cinderella more opportunities to express her inner life.

The result is a three-act/two intermission evening of dance that is at once beautiful, elegant, and long. While I think the evening could be shortened by half an hour - some of the additional pantomimes seemed repetitive - there's no shortage of delightful moments, wonderful dancing, and gorgeous costumes in this familiar and beloved fairy tale.

On opening night the role of Cinderella was charmingly danced by Noelani Pantastico. She smoothly managed the contradictions of being kind and helpful to her silly stepsisters (Nancy Casciano and Abby Jane DeAngelo), sorrowful with her widowed father (William Lin-Yee), and shyly thrilled by her Prince (Seth Orza). Stowell is as fond of pantomime as any Russian choreographer, so that Pantastico's Cinderella had a chance to demonstrate her graceful acting in reveries and memories in addition to the accomplished dancing we enjoy so much.

Another standout of the evening was Laura Tisserand as the Godmother who is transformed into the Good Fairy, making all things possible for Cinderella. She leads the Sprites and Four Seasons, as well as a corps of party guests and attendants in simple dances that express the exuberance of the happy world Cinderella is destined to join. Benjamin Griffiths plays the Jester, whose spectacular airborne leaps wow the audience. There are also a gang of "Clock Children" and "Bugs" - children from the PNB dance school - whose antics escort Cinderella through her transformation into a Princess worthy of Prince. One of the joys of this performance is to see so many very young children perform so well.

The many interpolations that Stowell introduces into the fairy tale makes the evening longer, but Conductor Emil de Cou and the PNB orchestra play so brilliantly that it's worth the price of the ticket just to hear them perform Prokofiev's marvelous music. And the 18th century style costumes by Martin Pakledinaz are simply out of this world - gorgeous fantasies of an elaborate historical period. There's even a magic coach conveyed by a team of sparkling fairy children who escort Cinderella to the ball.

My only wish for this production is that it kept more closely to the sense of the fairy tale. The Prince's ball, for instance, has no potential brides in attendance other than Cinderella and her two stepsisters. The other guests are dressed uniformly in red and seem to represent an ambiguous fairy world that makes the Prince and his court seem unreal. Since there are no other contenders for the Prince's affections, the search for the girl with the glass slipper becomes somewhat pointless, since all the Prince would have to do in this altered tale is to ask the young lady with the other shoe to step forward. The ball scene also comes with some dancing devils who seem to have no rational place in the story, and the final scene has such a long pantomime-retelling of Cinderella's life that the momentum of the narrative is lost.

Prokofiev's origin; ballet music - containing three acts and fifty dance sequences - is music enough for the telling of this tale. This slower, more dreamy version undermines the story and its main point - the transformation of a young person unjustly rejected whose goodness and hard work brings her the support she needs to succeed. The "Cinderella story" in all its versions is an archetypal story, no improvements needed.

But that's an English major's complaint (I confess). This is a gorgeous, romantic production that will thrill audiences from the very youngest to the very oldest. Pacific Northwest Ballet's Cinderella to Prokofiev's marvelous music is presented at McCaw Hall through February 9. Bring the whole family to this delightful classic. Box Office: 206-441-2424; https://www.pnb.org/

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If the shoe doesn't fit.... Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in Kent Stowell's Cinderella - Photo by Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in Kent Stowell's Cinderella - Photo by Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Noelani Pantastico and Seth Orza as Cinderella and her Prince, in Kent Stowell's Cinderella - Photo by Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Laura Tisserand as the Fairy Godmother in Kent Stowell's Cinderella - Photo by Angela Sterling
Pacific Northwest Ballet's Cinderella a gorgeous, romantic production
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