Alberta Ballet presents timeless fairytale for the second time

Join Alberta Ballet as they invite you to an enchanted ball with pointe shoes, tights and even a handsome Prince Charming. Alberta Ballet brings to life the lovable fairytale, Cinderella, as part of their 45th season.    

Music by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev and colourful costumes will help set the stage for this version of the popular fairytale choreographed by Alberta Ballet’s artistic director, Jean Grand-Maître.

Pushing the dancers

Grand-Maître has been Alberta Ballet’s artistic director since 2002. This is the second performance of the fairytale.

This time around, he said, the challenge was to take a difficult symphonic score and tell a story that looks believable and natural with 32 dancers.

There are some things that are similar to the 2004 production like the costumes, the set and the “Masterpiece” by Prokofiev, which according to Grand-Maître is “one of the great ballet scores.”

Alberta Ballet company artists rehearsing the opening number of “Cinderella”.
Photo by: Maria Bitter

He also said the student dancers that performed in the 2004 season are now professionals and Alberta Ballet is open to a new repertoire.

“I have stronger dancers, so I have really kicked up the notch technically and artistically and I have re-choreographed almost the entire ballet,” Grand-Maître said.

“It’s like having a great orchestra, you want to push them and that’s what I’ve tried to do. “

A family friendly production

Shelley Bellchamber, director of marketing and sales for Alberta Ballet said, “That even though this rendition of the fairytale is not a Disney version per se, the production is suited for all ages.

“It’s more of a darker story about how she is kept in a cellar and how she follows her dreams.”

“It’s a great way for people to abandon themselves from everything that’s going on around them and immerse themselves in this fantasy story,” said Bellchamber.

Fairytales really do come true

24-year-old Tara Williamson — one of the two leading ladies playing Cinderella — has been dancing ballet for 21 years. This is her 6th season with the company. Kelley McKinlay as the Prince and Hayna Gutierrez as Cinderella during the couple’s dance at the ball.
Photo by: Maria Bitter

She has danced title roles in performances like Romeo & Juliet and Carmen. She also played the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker.

The Vancouver native said that working with Grand-Maître is always a great experience because he wants the dancers to embody the different characters on all levels. He encourages them to give their best at all times.

Williamson explained that it’s a dream come true to be a part of this production.

“I’ve always dreamed of being Cinderella, even when I was a kid and now I actually get to be her. It’s always an honour to land a lead role.”

“This is not your typical beautiful character because of her dark past,” she explained. “It’s the classic story of how goodness overcomes evil and it gives you a sense of hope.”

A powerful arts experience

Grand-Maître said that he is very proud of his dancers. He encourages families, especially children, to experience the arts in order to believe in life and beauty. 

“What better way to inspire our children and ourselves to believe in beauty and truth once again than by exploring the eternal symbolism found in the mythical fairy tale that is Cinderella,” Grand-Maître said.

“As we get more and more cynical about contemporary events, we should try to remember that miracles are still possible and that the much happier ending in Cinderella is lived by countless people worldwide every day.”

Cinderella, her fairy godmother and other well-known characters will be taking the stage at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium from Feb. 9-11.

Tickets start at $27 for adults and are available online at Alberta Ballet’s website or by contacting the Alberta Ballet box office at 403.245.4549

mbitter@cjournal.ca