Words about Dance
Playing May 11th to the 22nd at the Auditorium Theater, The Joffrey Ballet dazzles with Sir Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella. A classical choice for the 60th Anniversary season closer, I must admit, this ballet is the one I was least excited about upon first receiving the season announcement. Cinderella, however, as performed on Friday, May 13th blew my expectations way out of the water.
Beginning, as the traditional story does, the curtain rises to reveal Cinderella’s living quarters in an impressive set by Scenic and Costume Designer, David Walker. The modest living quarters feel appropriately cold to satisfy the plot needs, but are grand in the Auditorium Theater space and provide much to take in as the ballet begins. The ballet immediately reveals itself to be heavy on the acting, and Joffrey dancers David Gombert and Rory Hohestein provide endless humor as the Stepsisters. The first Act is heavy with comic acting and light on actual ballet steps until Scene II when Cinderella is transported by her Fairy Godmother (April Daly, on Friday night) to the land of the Four Seasons. Dazzling tutus and a sudden change in scenery lend a sense of awe to the quirky and quick dance of the seasons. Changing sets, from Cinderella’s cold stone living quarters, to star lights twinkling against a big, flat backdrop, provide a modern feel to the latter scene. Fairies of Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter (Anastacia Holden, Anais Bueno, Jacqueline Moscicke, and Christine Rocas, respectively) dance solos showing off Ashton’s unique movement vernacular for this ballet. Though slightly fast for my taste, especially in the third solo, these solos provide a classical “tutu ballet” feel but are quirky enough to be unique from each other, and from other ballets of this era. Finally, exciting stage effects at the end of this Act transform the pumpkin into the iconic carriage, and Cinderella is carried off to the ball.
Act II provides more of the same from Act I: hilarious acting by the Stepsisters, graceful dancing by a full corps, and dazzling sets and costumes. Dancer Victoria Jaiani as Cinderella, appears cold in her entrance to the ball, but warms considerably in her lovely duet with Prince Dylan Gutierrez. Hansol Jeong steals the show in his rendition of The Jester, with beautifully high jumps, clean technique, and lovable acting, and the Prince’s Friends, danced by Yoshihisa Arai, Miguel Angel Blanco, Graham Maverick, and Joan Sebastian Zamora impress with their impeccable unison in pirouettes and jumps.
For ballet lovers, Sir Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella perhaps isn’t groundbreaking, or even all that unique from other classical ballets, but The Joffrey Ballet charms the audience and provides performances full of innocence, grace, and personality, leaving warm hearts and wild cheers at the end of the ballet. As Joffrey Artistic Director, Ashley Wheater says in his program note, “We long for a world in which lowly Cinderella meets her Prince; a world just a bit kinder than the one in which we live. When this world appears on stage, we allow ourselves to believe.”
And believe we do, until we pour out of the warm theater into Chicago’s Friday night torrential rainstorm to fight through the crowds for a cab…
The Joffrey Ballet performs Cinderella May 11-22, 2016; remaining performances are Thursday, May 19 at 7:30pm, Friday, May 20 at 7:30pm, Saturday, May 21 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm, and Sunday, May 22 at 2:00pm.
Single tickets range from $32-$170 and are available for purchase at The Joffrey Ballet’s official Box Office located in the lobby of Joffrey Tower, 10 E. Randolph Street, as well as the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University Box Office, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, by telephone at (800) 982-2787, or online at ticketmaster.com.