Ballet Jorgen Canada: Cinderella March 3, 2006
The Slipper Fits: Ballet Jorgen’s Cinderella at Cerritos
By Glen Creason
Family lore has it that the matriarch of my clan always wanted to take in a ballet with Dad but never made it and was still wanting in her 8th decade. Lucky for us, the Performing Arts Center was bringing such civility to the southland in a form of the Jorgan Ballet’s production of “Cinderella.” It was almost as if we had ordered the event. So, we had a first time for a Mother and son to attend a ballet and first time to put pen to paper on this venerable art form. This might be part confession and part apology but this “Cinderella” was magical in more ways than one. For an initial experience the results were delightful, illuminating and quite satisfying. The Canadian Ballet Jorgen presented a bright and energetic take on the classic with ingenuous, moveable sets, the great Prokofiev score, smart costumes that added texture and color to the stage plus young but very polished dancers who infused the whole with an optimistic glow.
This was not the Disney version with pumpkin coaches, twittering birds or castles on the hill. Not a single talking mouse was in sight. Instead, we found the sublime Tara Butler as the put-upon Cinderella longing and dreaming of escaping from her oppressive role in a household dominated by her mean-spirited yet dopey stepsisters and downright rotten step-mom. Act I centered on the household with the sweet Cinderella doing her dreamy thing and the sisters behaving badly as is their wont. Angel Wong and especially Clea Iveson were excellent as the clumsy, slightly askew and petulant stepsiblings who show one mean face at home and a second, unctuous one to possible suitors. They and their mother (played well by Craig Sanok) are unkind to an old beggar woman who in turn, gives Cinderella some seeds to plant in return for her kindness. The second portion of this act blossoms dramatically as the seeds are planted, the girl snoozes and fairies appear to make her dreams come true. Bonnie Crawford as the Lead Fairy dazzled in her time on stage spreading enchantment across the story and into the audience with perfect dancing and acting in this key role. Like a scene from Project Runway, the party dress appears and Cinderella readies herself secretly for the ball.
Act II introduces the Prince, danced by the tall and stately Toby George who was able to carry off the storybook romance to the very stroke of midnight. Ms. Butler seized her time to shine here and the solo upon her arrival at the ball was wonderful. We all know the story, including the captivating entrance of Cinderella, the love at first sight gleam in the Prince’s eye and the quick departure with one, precious slipper left behind. All that is left for Act III is the Prince’s search for the perfect fit and Cinderella’s glorious unveiling plus the ultimate come-uppance for step-Mom and sisters. Once again, as the fairies appeared the production soared and set designer Glenn Davidson’s marvelous enchanted trees in the forest with clanging metal branches were particularly effective in achieving a mysterious ambience. Outstanding in this forest were Jennifer Bartsch, Cameron Baldassarra and Cristina Tucciarone as the impish fairies. Finally, the slipper fits and the lucky couple celebrate with several magnificent dances; placing great demands on the Prince’s vitality but young Mr. George made it work wonderfully. Certainly this Cinderella won the hearts of the Cerritos audience and altered my family’s ballet education once and for all. At Cerritos, the slipper fit quite nicely.