The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
What goes around comes around. When that statement applies to Ballet Theatre of Ohio and its upcoming performance of artistic director Christine Meneer’s “Cinderella” at the Akron Civic Theatre, a Knight Arts grantee, that’s a good thing.
BTO has four major ballets that it rotates over four years, according to Meneer – “Coppelia,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Cinderella.”
The company has some repertory-style works – based on “Carmen” and some neoclassic-inspired pieces by choreographer Heinz Poll and Meneer herself.
The spring staple, however, is one of the big four. And for this year it’s “Cinderella.”
Meneer’s “Cinderella” is wonderfully constructed. As choreographer, the artist instills elegance into her work and creates a freshness that has always come across the stage.
In this work, she focuses on the central issues of the story – the enduring love story of the young scullery maid finding her Prince and the angry world in which the young lovers must struggle.
Thus the central and lovely pas de deux is the central emotional moment in the tale. Balanced against it are the family squabbles with the stepsisters and stepmother and the elaborate ball scene that represents the larger world.
As has often been the case, Meneer has a track record of being especially good with crowd scenes (as in her annual production of “Nutcracker"). She can get performances of great nuance from amateur and professional dancers alike that make the scene vibrant for the audience.
Perhaps it’s because BTO came out of Meneer’s Children’s Ballet Theatre and the dance studio that fed it (and the current company) that makes her productions go beyond an evening-length story ballet to become a kind of event, one aimed at the family and aspiring ballerinas in particular.
This year, as the children enters the majestic Akron Civic Theatre, they will be given a dance card. As they wander through the majestic theater, they will be able to visit various rooms that are sort of lifted out of the story.
In the upper Salon a Dance Master will be on hand to teach them to waltz. Next to it they can peek into Cinderella’s closet and see her clothing – from rags to ball gowns. They also can wander through the finery available for the stepsisters and their mother. And finally the Fairy God Mother, in another area, will wave her magic wand to start the children on the road to the performance and the faraway lands represented there.
Children will be given a souvenir of their experience at each stop, including a small glass slipper.
BTO will present “Cinderella” at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 4 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 5 at the Akron Civic Theatre, 182 S. Main St., Akron; 330-253-2488; www.akroncivic.com. Tickets are $15-$30.