By Joffrey Ballet
At Auditorium Theatre
Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton
Music by Serge Prokofiev & Chicagosinfonietta Orchestra
In my first experience with the Joffrey Ballet I was blow away by the magnificence of it all; the enchanted venue inside the Auditorium Theatre, the enormity and depth created in the flat set, the exquisitely detailed costumes and the speechless beauty in the Joffrey dancers.
Taking the time to develop the personalities of each character in act one, it opens with the two step sisters (David Gombert and Michael Smith) goofing around while Cinderella (Victoria Jaiani) is cleaning the kitchen area of their home. From the start Jaiani brought a natural smile to my face. Her control in every movement is astounding and the grace in which she dances disguises her strength and come off as delicate and beautiful as Cinderella’s personality. Her still moments are deliberate, and resemble a photograph that you can look at for hours just trying to get into that person’s world.
The Fairy Godmother’s (April Daly) first appearance gives her some strength and mystery and then strikes the audiences with the Glamour and sensuality of the Fairy Godmother. Daly’s first dance stuns the audience as her tall commanding figure flies around as a bird landing in front of Cinderella.
Act one finishes with each dancer showcased at the opening of the big ball, each dance having its own romantic twinge on the moment. Act two opens up on a grander scale inside The Princes large ballroom with the breath taking view of the full cast dressed in fairytale elegance and the entertaining routines of the gracefully athletic and muscular Jester (Derrick Agnoletti.)
Twinkling on the very tips of her toes, Cinderella floats down the steps and is eloquently introduced in her formal gown. The Prince’s (Miguel Blanco) introduction made my eyes leap out with him as he delicately leapt into the sky –paused- and the decided to delicately return to the floor.
Cinderella and the Prince introduce themselves with a personal solo dance. Cinderella’s sensual movements have such passion it felt as if I in the audience was the Prince and she was holding my hand to her chest so I could feel the joy and love inside of her.
There is an odd pause at the end of act two and before the beginning of act three. It is not quite an intermission, but rather just a long…pause. Relax and stay in your seat, because the best is yet to come. Cinderella ends with one of the more breathtaking finishes possessing the true magic of fairytales and dreams coming true.
Throughout the play the passion on stage is contagious and the Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton is unmatched by anything I have ever seen. Although I am not a big fan of the slap stick comedy between the two the two step sisters, they are terrifically played by David Gombert and Michael Smith (traditionally played by men.) Their ability to react spontaneously in dance is what made me laugh.
For those intimidated by their ignorance of dance the Ballet is very similar to a silent film, and the quality of this production allows you to completely understand and feel the characters through the sensuality of their movements. For Ballet fans this production should not be missed, it is a nice of goose bumps and misty eyes as you experience the romantic love story of Cinderella.
By Timothy McGuire
At Auditorium Theatre, 50 E Congress Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60605, for tickets call Ticketmaster at 800.982.ARTS(2787), Ticket prices range from $25 to $145, Running February 17th through February 28th.