This last weekend I took the girls and two of their friends into Salt Lake City to see Ballet West's performance of Cinderella. We got all gussied up and had a wonderful time together. After the
performance, we seemed to have a general consensus regarding our feelings about the day. I'm afraid to say, the ballet critic came out in me.
Capitol Theater, though quite small, is very lovely and the seating arrangements were well done, truly making the stage visible from any seat in the theater. The ushers were kind and extremely helpful. This was definitely a mother/daughter event and the theater was packed with dressed up little girls and their mums.
The ballet itself was very traditional, even using staging and choreography from the grand high days of storybook ballets. The costumes were exquisite, eliciting "oohs" and "ahs" throughout the 2 1/2 hour performance. The music was a live and performed beautifully by the Utah Chamber Orchestra. Having a live orchestra for performances is a real treat, and Ballet West is truly blessed to have such a talented group supporting them.
Unfortunately, the dancing itself really wasn't of the caliber my girls and I are used to seeing, having seen both The Joffrey and New York City Ballet companies perform at the Kennedy Center. There were some glaring technique issues (bent arms, lackadaisical fifth positions, to forward leaning, hopping around in turns and jumps, etc.) and Ballet West's dancers lack the beautiful extension found in Russian trained dancers. We did see a matinee performance and often matinee casts are the second tier, but still, for such a critically acclaimed company, I expected so much more from the dancing.
The highlight of this particular storybook ballet were Cinderella's stepsisters, who, in this staging, are played by men. Their costuming and makeup make them all the more hideous and comical. The two dancers in these roles played the pantomime in perfectly and absolutely made the afternoon.
Although we have our quibbles, the girls and I are excited to see what Ballet West will bring to its stage next season. This mother/daughter day is bound to become a tradition.