While I thought I knew the story of Cinderella and her wicked stepsisters, I had never seen mischievous mice moving props, a cat invited to the ball or costumes quite as crafty as the ones I saw in the Plano Metropolitan Ballet's performance Saturday night at the Courtyard Theater in Plano.
Performers danced to recorded music by Tchaikovsky, Camille Saint-Saens, Sergei Prokofiev, Charles Gounod and Mozart. The choreography was a blend of classical ballet (i.e. pirouettes, bourrees, arabesque holds, jetes) and more modern moves that involved swinging the hips and loosening the spine. The production was choreographed by PMB Artistic Director Cindi Lawrence Hanson, along with Natalie Anton, Cloe Coleman and Katie Puder.
The most memorable pieces from the first act were "The Prince Should Choose a Bride," "You're Not Invited" and "I'm Your Fairy Godmother." The Prince (Ruben Gerding) was well-suited for his role, oozing confidence and charisma the moment he stepped on stage. In "You're Not Invited" the Stepmother (Cera Taylor), Stepsisters (Katie Egger and Stephanie Lee) and the Cat (Kristina Banh) started to really warm up to their roles. Compared to their earlier appearances, in this piece their technique was crisper, pointe work steadier and facial expressions bigger.
And while at times Cinderella's (Amelia Leidy) movements appeared laborious, her musicality and smile never faltered. The Fairy Godmother (Elizabeth Kumamoto) was everything a little girl could hope for. Decked out in a shimmery white tutu, tiara and wand, Kumamoto practically floated across the stage. Her natural pose and graceful lines only added to her aura.
The second half contained larger group pieces including "The Royal Ball," "If The Shoe Fits" and "Their Celebration." The formation changes, jump sequences and entrances and exits were seamless, engaging and pleasing to the eye. There was also some nice acting by Egger, Lee and Banh in the scene where they discover the glass slipper belongs to Cinderella. It's hard to make falling down and crying hysterically look pretty, but they pulled it off. And once Leidy transformed into a princess you could see a shift in her dancing. Her movement became lighter and she held her spine straighter, embodying the triumph and confidence of her character.
PMB accomplished the essence of the fairy tale with the costumes, sets and characters. The narrative advanced seamlessly, portraying all key scenes of the story in a fun but artistic way.
Katie Dravenstott is a freelance writer and dance teacher in Dallas. Visit her blog at www.kddance.wordpress.com.