October 5, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 50°F


Classic fairy tale retains original vision at Ithaca Ballet

In a glowing, decadent ballroom, men and women twirl around the room, laughing and chatting to each other. A prince stands, searching the crowd for the beautiful woman he had met earlier that day.

Ithaca Ballet ballerinas rehearse Monday night at the Ballet Center of Ithaca for their upcoming show, Cinderella. The company will perform the fairy tale in its most traditional version. Taylor Mcintyre/The Ithacan

His wandering eyes continue to inspect each corner of the room, whenever a beautiful woman enters. Their eyes meet in a loving gaze. But their happiness is short, as the woman soon runs off into the night, leaving only her glass slipper behind for him to trace.

Bringing all the magic of the classic romantic story back to life, the Ithaca Ballet will perform Cinderella on Saturday and Sunday at the State Theatre.

Performed to music by Sergei Prokofiev, the production is an original interpretation of the story, first choreographed in 1960 by Alice Reid, the current co-artistic director.

Her daughter Cindy Reid, the other co-artistic director, said the performance remains close to her mother’s original choreography and established vision.

“We stuck with her staging of the ballet and kept her basic format,” Cindy Reid said. “My mother is a real stickler for keeping everything in the traditional format.”

As the dancers work the stage, their bodies tell the original rags-to-riches tale.

Johann Studier, a retired professional dancer, plays the prince and said performing traditional romantic stories like Cinderella is one of the greatest joys for the dancers because they are such an incredible representation of what ballet is truly about.

“Any of the romantic ballets are the epitome of ballet,” Studier said. “They are the reason a lot of us got into ballet in the first place.”

Katie Taylor, a sophomore at Ithaca High School, plays a courtier and said the beauty in this show is the traditional style of the dance and the story.

“With classical ballet, all the lines are very pretty,” Taylor said. “It’s fun because it’s very whimsical.”

With costumes in the old Renaissance style and holding close to the original Cinderella tale, the performance is one that all audiences can enjoy, as it brings back the timeless story in a beautiful rendition.

Among the dancers are three Ithaca College students who were approached by Reid in March to join the company. Filling the show’s male roles, seniors Jon-Michael Miller and Clint Hromsco and freshman Luke Wise will experience performing in a full ballet for the first time.

“Working off campus in a professional environment — something that is in no way affiliated with Ithaca — is especially good for people that really want the professional experience,” Hromsco said.

The talent of the other dancers in the show impressed Wise the most, despite the dancers’ ages.

“It’s refreshing working with such talented dancers that are so young,’” he said. “It really just shows how alive the arts are in Ithaca.”

However, Miller said the allure of this story specifically is that it can appeal to such a wide audience — from children to adults.

“It certainly can attract Cinderella lovers and ballet lovers, because it’s all coming together to tell the story,” he said. “It all kind of gels into one beautiful production, with the chords and the atmosphere of the Cinderella story.”

As the classic ballroom scene begins, Beth Mochizuki, who plays Cinderella, points her toe to the ground with grace and elegance. Strong and controlled, she moves her arms and legs in unison. The lines of her body show her love for the story.

She said the dancers’ goals are to reinvent the characters and make them come alive through personal interpretation.

“We try to make it authentic for ourselves by finding something to relate to in the character,” she said.

No matter what the dancers do, Reid said, in the end, the tradition will carry on.

“It’s just like in the play,” Reid said. “The fairy godmother will reunite them, and they will live happily ever after.”

Cinderella will be performed at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the State Theatre. Tickets are $6 for children, $12 for students, $15 for adults and $18 for seniors.