Choreographed by Kent Stowell in 1994, "Cinderella" is a quiet, gentle ballet, set to a shimmering score by Sergei Prokofiev and given glorious color in Tony Straiges' sets and, especially, Martin Pakledinaz's rainbow of costumes, all of which seem to create their own light. (This production of "Cinderella" is dedicated to the memory of Pakledinaz, who died earlier this year.) Though there are passages that haven't held up well — the comic scenes with the stepsisters, for example, don't give the dancers enough to do and feel long — the costumes are always a joy, particularly the misty blue-green tutus of the corps de ballet in Act I, the charmingly pastoral ensembles (complete with antennae) worn by the bugs, and the vivid red-velvet swirl of the guests at the ball.
With so much to look at, it's possible for the story to get a little lost along the way — but Carla Körbes, who danced the role of Cinderella on opening night, has an uncanny way of making cavernous McCaw Hall seem small and intimate, and of delicately creating a character through subtle expressions and gestures. Her Cinderella, young and innocent, was still shattered by the loss of her mother; Körbes lets us see the poignancy of her memories, and her childlike joy when the Godmother (Carrie Imler, strong yet ethereal) sent her off, bedecked and bejeweled, to the ball. Karel Cruz was dashing as her prince — the man not only can soar through the air, but can really work a cape — and Jonathan Porretta performed with bouncing aplomb as the Jester. An array of students from the PNB School nicely filled this ballet's charming roles for children, and corps dancer Leta Biasucci, enveloped in an enormous hat, displayed terrific comedic chops as a very dramatic harpsichordist. It was a "Cinderella" filled with pleasures, and a fantastic choice to kick off a milestone anniversary season.
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