Happily Ever After Means Never Having To Turn Into A Pumpkin

I headed downtown, sniffling and sneezing the whole way, determined to revel in the magic of the Joffrey Ballet’s production of Cinderella at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.  With a pounding sinus headache and hot soup calling my name, I knew that if there was one reason to leave the house on Thursday evening, this performance was it.  A ballet dancer through most of my life, I had never seen Cinderella performed and more importantly, this was the Joffrey!

To say that the Joffrey’s performance is a delight would be a gross understatement.  The inexplicable energy that comes from an impenetrable technique and preparation was abound on opening night; you focused not on the choreography itself, instead you were invited to focus on the story the choreography was telling.

As Cinderella, Victoria Jaiani was convincingly transformed from poor maiden to princess – her first scene having been dressed by her fairy godmother was performed with a shopoholic level of excitement.  The new, white, sparkling tutu redefined her as a veritable, although expiring, princess in every sense of the word.  It seemed her posture even improved.  In a refreshingly aggressive move during the famous “glass slipper” scene when the prince approaches Cinderella’s stepsisters first, Victoria practically throws her partnering shoe at the Prince to prove herself – quite unlike the demure, embarrassed display of politesse in the book.

One of the more joyous characters of the ballet, and simultaneously one of the most scarily talented on the stage, was undoubtedly the Jester, played by an enormously flexible Derrick Agnoletti.  Prior to the roar of applause given to him by the audience, he moved us through each scene at the Prince’s ball with huge leaps and great comic timing.  Likewise, the two gentlemen (yes, men) playing Cinderella’s stepsisters are so entertaining and flailing, it convinces you that while their roles are significant, these dancers aren’t being used to their full potential as stepsisters.

To put it plainly, the style of ballet performed in Cinderella is a kind of anomaly, at least when it comes to ballet performed in Los Angeles of, say, the last 5 to 10 years.  It does not fall into either of the most widely performed styles of ballet: Russian and Balanchine.  (Yes, balletomanes, I am generalizing.)  Choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton, who was born in Ecuador and whose Cinderella premiered with Sadler’s Wells Ballet at the Royal Opera House in London in 1948, the style and movement has much more fluidity than Russian choreography, but isn’t nearly as esoteric as a George Balanchine choreographed work.  It’s accessible, comedic, and yet no less impressive.

On for two more performances (well, three if you hurry), Cinderella is a gorgeous display of how well technique, set and costume design, and wit come together on stage for such a grabbing, beautiful, and entertaining performance.  Even the little girls sitting with their parents were on the edge of their seats at the end to see the prince and his princess walk off into the gold and glittering future.  As was I, actually, which was impressive considering my sickly condition pre-performance.  My evening had ended happily, after all.

Cinderella is on for three remaining performances: Today (Saturday) at 2pm and 7:30pm and tomorrow (Sunday) at 2pm at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.  For more information, please call (213) 972-0711 or click here.

Click here to watch a Joffrey Ballet produced video introducing their Cinderella.

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