You’ve seen Cinderella in many different ways, but not quite like Ben Stevenson’s three-act ballet. It was the first full-length ballet he choreographed 46 years ago, and on this weekend of his 80th birthday, Texas Ballet Theater has brought back the perennial favorite.
There’s good reason for that. Stevenson’s skills with comedy and large ensemble scenes are well documented, but when you add that to a beloved story and a company in top form — not to mention astute accompaniment from the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Michael Moricz conducting music by Prokofiev) — it’s unbeatable entertainment.
Principal dancer Leticia Oliviera, in the title role, is always a strong presence, sometimes harsh, but here she transforms into a character more delicate and fragile than she’s ever been. In the first act as her adopted family mistreats her, she’s vulnerable without asking for pity.
When the Fairy Godmother (Paige Nyman) visits and her fortunes change, it seems that in the fantasy scene with Dragonflies and Fairies, and then beautifully designed Horses for the coach, Oliveira’s confidence strengthens.
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That’s even more prevalent in the second act — the ball — when she and the Prince (Andre Silva) give the audience the showy and thrilling technical perfection they paid to see.
But that’s after the scene-stealing Stepsisters (Alexander Kotelenets and Drake Humphreys, who went on for Carl Coomer on Friday night) made us laugh hard and long as they each gave delightfully awkward dances in an attempt to win the Prince’s hand. Kotelenets was particularly hysterical in a series of purposely klutzy accidents in the first two acts. Adding to the brilliant slapstick is a Jester (Marlen Alimanov) doing high leaping splits, one time “kicking” Kotelenets in the face.
Because of a deadline Friday night, only the first two acts were viewed, but there’s no doubt the third act had moments of humor mixed in with the romantic, happily ever after ending.
Cinderella is Stevenson at his story ballet best.
- 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday
- Bass Hall, Fort Worth
- 877-828-9200; www.texasballettheater.org