BalletMet’s Cinderella premier exploded onto the stage with amazing artistry and beautiful power at the Capital Theatre Vern Riffe Center, playing to a packed audience.
The production opened with the consummate elegance of Adrienne Benz as Cinderella and Andres Estevez as the Prince. Possessing four rotations of dancers, each show is a little different, but all these dancers are magic together, bringing beauty, strength and charisma.
It was easy to get lost in the moment as they danced together. Estevez showcased the grace of Benz and she reflected his endurance and fortitude. These dancers work out 6 hours a day weekly, giving them the ability to make complex movements, turns, spins and jumps look effortless – they are, indeed, amazing athletes.
Benz herself is a new mother with a 10 month old son and despite the fact, looked flawless. After the show, I asked about her motivation and received a delightful reply, intelligent and to the point.
“The people I work with provide my inspiration,” Benz said. “I try to put myself in the character’s shoes … and I then allow myself to get lost in the role.”
Obviously, no two dancers make a performance. The Jester, played by Adam Still, nearly stole the show from Benz and Estevez. Still, with his seemingly endless array of powerful jumps, offered expression and acting as intense as his colorful costume. He drew the audience in to watch his every move and really became the Jester. We could not wait to see what he might do next.
Courtney Muscroft and Emily Gotschall, the evil stepsisters, were entertaining to watch dance, especially when in proximity to Benz, given the height difference. At times, the audience could feel and see Muscoft’s intimidating height. However, Muscoft was no match for Ashley Wegmann, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother.
Beyond the 26 professional dancers, the depth of the performance was extended by 109 young adults cast in the show. The children definitely made the audience smile and laugh with their colorful costumes and acrobatics.
The sounds of Prokofiev was accompanied by dramatic lighting, albeit challenging to photograph (which is common for dance productions) and used perfectly to transition between scenes with creative backdrops. There was something about the design of the clocks suspended above the stage during the scene representing midnight during Act II that felt timeless.
Over the past two seasons, Columbus has experienced Artistic Director Edwaard Liang (a former dancer with the New York City Ballet company) bringing world class choreography to the stage.
His choreography was captivating, flowing effortlessly from scene to scene without getting lost in repetitive entanglements. Liang spoke after the performance, sitting on the edge of the stage near the front row.
“It’s inspiring and interesting to work with incredible athletes and artists,” Liang said. “I want to make the best production possible for my dancers, company and community.”
Cinderella marked the first time he choreographed children, describing the experience as “Incredibly revitalizing.”
The Columbus BalletMet program searched for and found in Liang a prince who continues to deliver the proverbial glass slipper, in addition to an incredible troupe of professional dancers.