What a great show! The first thing I want to say in case you don’t usually stay until the end of a thing, is stay to the end! Cinderella is just the first half. The traditional fairy tale is followed after intermission by two world premiers. This program contains a sampling of all the best things about Carolina Ballet: A straightforward, classical story ballet choreographed by director Dr. Robert Weiss; a passionate and lyrical pas de deux also choreographed by Dr. Weiss; and a fast-paced and edgy contemporary piece choreographed by Zalman Raffael.

Carolina Ballet’s Cinderella is filled with beauty and humor. The stepsisters, Alicia Fabry and Randi Osetek, were hilariously spoiled brats! The slapstick choreography as the two fight for the Prince’s attention in the Palace scene is genius and makes me want to see more of Dr. Weiss’s (and the dancers’) funny side on stage.

Alicia Fabry, Randi Osetek and Margaret Severin-Hansen as the stepsisters and Cinderella, choreography by Robert Weiss
Alicia Fabry, Randi Osetek and Margaret Severin-Hansen as the stepsisters and Cinderella, choreography by Robert Weiss
Alicia Fabry, Randi Osetek and Margaret Severin-Hansen as the stepsisters and Cinderella, choreography by Robert Weiss
Alicia Fabry, Randi Osetek and Margaret Severin-Hansen as the stepsisters and Cinderella, choreography by Robert Weiss
Randi Osetek as a stepsister in
Randi Osetek as a stepsister vying for the prince’s attention in “Cinderella” choreographed by Robert Weiss
Alicia Fabry, Randi Osetek and Sokvanarra Sar as Cinderella's stepsisters and the Prince's brother the Grand Duke, choreography by Robert Weiss
Alicia Fabry, Randi Osetek and Sokvanarra Sar as Cinderella’s stepsisters and the Prince’s brother the Grand Duke, choreography by Robert Weiss

Cinderella’s transformation from heartbroken and abused orphan to beautiful princess takes place in about 45 minutes. In this short time, Margaret Severin-Hansen dancing the title role perfectly expressed the full range of feelings from the sadness and hope of the cinder girl to elation and love with her prince; as humble as nobility as when she was covered in soot.

Maragaret Severin Hansen as Cinderella, choreography by Robert Weiss
Maragaret Severin Hansen as Cinderella, choreography by Robert Weiss
Margaret Severin-Hansen and Richard Krusch as Cinderella and Prince Charming, choreography by Robert Weiss
Margaret Severin-Hansen and Richard Krusch as Cinderella and Prince Charming, choreography by Robert Weiss

Richard Krusch was a regal prince and seemed to leave the ground with no effort.

Richard Krusch as Prince Charming in
Richard Krusch as Prince Charming in “Cinderella” choreographed by Robert Weiss

One of my favorite parts was in the Godmother’s Realm when the eight Fairies introduce themselves with a waltz. They danced easily, weaving patterns between each other with beautiful port de bras (arm movement).

Fairies in the Godmother's Realm in
Fairies in the Godmother’s Realm in “Cinderella” choreographed by Robert Weiss
Fairies in the Godmother's Realm in
Fairies in the Godmother’s Realm in “Cinderella” choreographed by Robert Weiss

The ticking clock music signals the entrance the Fairy Godmother, danced by Lindsay Turkel, and twelve young dancers whose sweet faces and fancy footwork made me smile every time.

Karl Moraski’s original score and live performance of Cinderella is such a treat! During the ballroom scene as it nears midnight, the ticking clock begins to ominously interject itself into the ballroom waltz. This perfectly conveys that although the party is still going strong, Cinderella has a problem that no one else there knows anything about. These are the little things make it possible to effectively tell a story in a short time with no words.

There is one intermission, followed immediately by Dr. Weiss’s new pas de deux, Spartacus & Phrygia. Set to the beautiful music from the ballet Spartacus composed by Aram Kachaturain, this ballet is romantic and as beautiful as the music. It feels like a conversation between two people who love and trust each other, at times tender and at times explosive. Marcelo Martinez performed leaping turns that brought audible gasps and Lilyan Vigo was equal to him in power. Their performance gave me goosebumps with it’s multiple crescendos ending in sensual and daring lifts.

Lilyan Vigo in
Lilyan Vigo in “Spartacus and Phrygia” choreographed by Robert Weiss
Lilyan Vigo and Marcelo Martinez in
Lilyan Vigo and Marcelo Martinez in “Spartacus and Phrygia” choreographed by Robert Weiss
Lilyan Vigo and Marcelo Martinez in
Lilyan Vigo and Marcelo Martinez in “Spartacus and Phrygia” choreographed by Robert Weiss
Lilyan Vigo and Marcelo Martinez in
Lilyan Vigo and Marcelo Martinez in “Spartacus and Phrygia” choreographed by Robert Weiss
Lilyan Vigo and Marcelo Martinez in
Lilyan Vigo and Marcelo Martinez in “Spartacus and Phrygia” choreographed by Robert Weiss

After a short pause there’s a new piece by resident choreographer Zalman Raffael, In the Gray, set to Violin Concerto No. 1 by Philip Glass. In the Gray is an exciting and original work reminiscent of Christopher Stowell’s Rite of Spring in intensity.

The choreography is fast, challenging and exhilarating to watch. It seemed that soloist Jan Burkhard was the antagonist to soloists Cecilia Iliesiu and Adam Crawford Chavis. Burkhard’s movements were unusual and staccato. I would think there’s an extra challenge to performing strange steps and positions at such a fast tempo, yet Burkhard moved through them as naturally as if they were everyday ballet steps. Her movements are contrasted with the long connected movements of Iliesiu’s role.

Iliesiu’s performance was nothing short of kick-ass. And the more I see Chavis dance, the more I love to watch him dance.

It is impressive how fast the corps of 4 women and 5 men could move while keeping together. They moved toward and then past each other with small fast turns. They danced in straight lines so that some dancers were not quite obscured, creating layers of color moving in unison. Ashley Hathaway stood out in the corps and, like Chavis, is continually surpassing herself. I always look forward to seeing her dance.

The performance is made great, not only by the interesting and fast movement and the dancers’ skill, but also the simple costumes of leotards and tights in a different solid pale earthy/pastel color for each dancer, designed by Kerri Martinsen. There is also the lighting by Ross Kolman that intensifies a focal point on the stage. There’s a corridor in front of a partially opened upstage curtain brightly lit from above, and no light to allow visibility outside of that corridor. There are lights streaming in from the wings, making the side curtains become part of the set. A simple stage with nothing but curtains is made to look foreign and unfamiliar with just the use of lighting techniques.

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Jan Burkhard, Manual Barriga, Reigner Bethune, Ike Hawkersmith, Maximilian Isaacson, and Miles Sollars-White in “In the Gray” choreographed by Zalman Raffael

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Cecilia Iliesiu in
Cecilia Iliesiu in “In the Gray” choreographed by Zalman Raffael
Manual Barriga, Reigner Bethune, Ike Hawkersmith, Maximilian Isaacson, and Miles Sollars-White in
Manual Barriga, Reigner Bethune, Ike Hawkersmith, Maximilian Isaacson, and Miles Sollars-White in “In the Gray” choreographed by Zalman Raffael
Cecilia Iliesiu in
Cecilia Iliesiu in “In the Gray” choreographed by Zalman Raffael
Cecilia Iliesiu, Manual Barriga, Reigner Bethune, Ike Hawkersmith, Maximilian Isaacson, and Miles Sollars-White in
Cecilia Iliesiu, Manual Barriga, Reigner Bethune, Ike Hawkersmith, Maximilian Isaacson, and Miles Sollars-White in “In the Gray” choreographed by Zalman Raffael
Cecilia Iliesiu, Manual Barriga, Reigner Bethune, Ike Hawkersmith, Maximilian Isaacson, and Miles Sollars-White in
Cecilia Iliesiu, Manual Barriga, Reigner Bethune, Ike Hawkersmith, Maximilian Isaacson, and Miles Sollars-White in “In the Gray” choreographed by Zalman Raffael
Cecilia Iliesiu and Adam Crawford Chavis in
Cecilia Iliesiu and Adam Crawford Chavis in “In the Gray” choreographed by Zalman Raffael
Jan Burkhard in
Jan Burkhard in “In the Gray” choreographed by Zalman Raffael
Adam Crawford Chavis in
Adam Crawford Chavis in “In the Gray” choreographed by Zalman Raffael
Cecilia Iliesiu in
Cecilia Iliesiu in “In the Gray” choreographed by Zalman Raffael
“In the Gray” choreographed by Zalman Raffael

You can only see these three ballets through May 17th at the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. Visit https://www.carolinaballet.com/program/cinderella for tickets and performance information.

Comment with your thoughts on these ballets!