Temporary Wonderland

Review of Cinderella at Pacific Northwest Ballet by Alyssa T.

Calling all people!

Whomever you are—old, young, romantic or not—seeing Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Cinderella can evoke ideas of fantasy and wonder in your mind. Imagine being a kid again. Watching the ballet is much like watching your favorite fairytale come to life. How much awe would you feel if characters magically popped out the storybook you were clutching, and suddenly began to twirl and spin out before your eyes?! With the PNB’s lovely production of Cinderella, you’re almost literally cast into a temporary wonderland.

Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Lesley Rausch as Cinderella and principal dancer Jeffrey Stanton as the Prince in Kent Stowell’s Cinderella. Photo © Angela Sterling

Even before the show even started, I was already oo-ing and ahh-ing. The stage frame is absolutely gorgeous, something everyone comments on when they first enter the performance hall. The attention to detail in the set, costumes, music, and choreography is fantastic, and what impresses me most is how well they all come together. Throughout the production, PNB skips the cold and hot porridge, and dives straight for the dish that is “just right.”

The dancers and musicians are so in sync at times I feel as though I’m watching a classic episode of Tom and Jerry, where every single movement is planned, timed, and perfectly executed. PNB’s Cinderella, however, trumps any cartoon by far. Vibrant sounds wail out of the orchestra pit in times of dramatic emotion in the characters, while subtle lighting effects draw audiences to deeper moods. The dramatic costumes are not just designed, but engineered to highlight the beauty and movement of the dancers. Some of the costumes are loaded with so many sparkles, dancers practically glow on stage.

Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in the ball scene from Kent Stowell’s Cinderella. Photo © Angela Sterling

There are a few times where the music seems darker than the mood conveyed by the stage, story, and dancers. This is where audiences should be aware the original Cinderella score by Prokofiev, a brilliant twentieth century composer, was too dark for the vision of loveliness Kent Stowell wished to portray. As PNB’s Founding Artistic Director, he envisioned a light and romantic ballet, one he could only breathe life into by reworking the music, where it was necessary, with excerpts from Prokofiev’s other pieces. The result is a near seamless score that stays true to the composer while carrying the audience everywhere from Cinderella’s jaw-dropping dreams, to the stepsisters’ comedic thrashing, the jester’s lovable jokes, and the happily-ever-after ending.

Pacific Northwest Ballet corps de ballet dancer Kylee Kitchens as Fairy Godmother and soloist Rachel Foster as Cinderella with PNB School students and Company dancers in Kent Stowell’s Cinderella. Photo © Angela Sterling

Kent Stowell’s Cinderella, which has been out of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s repertory for nearly a decade, is being performed in its full and intended glory at McCaw Hall for only another week. Keep a close eye on the clock, and don’t let yourself miss the timeless sets, the brilliant storytelling techniques, the seemingly-effortless dancing, the detailed set, dreamy music, and the adorably skilled school kids.

Cinderella is closed. Next up at Pacific Northwest Ballet: Contemporary 4, March 18 - 27. More info at pnb.org

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