On Friday Steve, Alex, Erica (Alex's girlfriend) and I went to the Township to see Carolina Ballet's Cinderella. The company is the civic one in town and it was the first time that I can remember their spring event being held outside the small, poorly located auditorium at Keenan High School.
John Whitehead and the staff did a fine job with publicity. I noticed posters all over town for at least a week before opening night. All the newspapers carried an advertisement, announcements and most also included a photo. Still, this was a bit of a risk. The bigger theater is more expensive. To cut costs, the company went into the building Thursday night. Years past, at Keenan, they've had all week on location. I heard that this gamble paid off nicely. There was a children's school performance on Friday and nice attendance at the show we saw.
I won't mention any of the performers by name. It isn't necessary. All seemed well rehearsed. The choreography was straight-forward and nicely executed. The partnering was simple and appropriate for the young cast. This was also a show that featured only those old enough and with enough experience to get on and off the stage without assistance....no three and four year old kids. In fact, I think all the dancers were on pointe. Alas, this means the youngest were about eight and that their legs weren't always straight. Still, they knew their cues, knew their steps, and danced with every count of the music.
The men were mostly USC dancers, friends of CMFA, and one was recently fired by Radenko Pavlovich. They did a nice job showcasing the girls, most of whom had never done more than a pirouette with a guy outside a summer program. It was a joy to watch everyone after the show. All were excited, giggling with friends, and very proud of their accomplishments in leading roles.
Sure, the show didn't have me at the edge of my seat. This isn't world class dancing. It is a chance to have the local students perform the major roles. Past years revealed great potential in a few of the students. Joseph Phillips started with this company as did Sara Mearns and so many others. The list of professional dancers who participated as youths in Columbia's civic performances is a long one, it includes Mathias. Who knows if the next international award winner was on the stage. Time will tell.
The performance had its flaws but they were few...a stumble here and missed lighting cue there. All in all, it was a nice evening. The best part, however, was in the audience. We sat near a young boy, almost four years old. He talked too much and in his excitement couldn't maintain a whisper, but no one around us cared. He was enchanted. He'd been prepared, knew the story, was thrilled with the Good Fairy and searched for Prince Charming. Without a doubt, civic companies provide the best training ground for the next generation of ballet fans!