NEW YORK—Children and their parents alike are in for a theatrical treat when they attend the New York Theatre Ballet (NYTB). The small chamber company of dancers specializes in offering hourlong versions of classic children’s stories, as well as classic ballets by noted choreographers.
The children’s classics are suitable for ages 3 on up, yet are sophisticated enough to please parents.
The presentation of Cinderella opened with founder Diana Byer introducing a young man who outlined the various sections of the stage: upstage, down, left, right. The audience was drawn in to the proceedings; they were made to feel a part of what was to take place.
The opening solo by Cinderella (Rie Ogura) was sweet and delicate with excellent but unobtrusive technique.
The story played out as expected. Cinderella, due to the loss of her parents, is forced to live with her not too unpleasant Stepmother (Carmella Lauer), and slightly nutty Stepsisters (played by male dancers Mitchell Kilby and Michael Wells).
Anyone who knows the story (surely most children are educated by their parents) knows that all will come right in the end.
The household prepares for a grand party to take place at the palace that evening. Although Cinderella is not slated to attend, unusual events soon take place.
Unexpected visitors, including the Dancing Master (Seth Ives), the lovely Fairy Godmother (Brianna Steinfeldt), Fairies (Melissa Sadler and Elena Zahlmann), and the comical dancing Clock (Mitchell Kilby and Michael Wells, doubling from their earlier roles as Stepsisters), appear to help Cinderella on her way to a happy ending.
In The Palace scene, Cinderella meets her Prince (Steven Melendez). Of course the two are immediately smitten, showing their feelings in a tender pas de deux.
The Majordomo (Dan Renkin) lends his support, and the guests help fill the stage with joy. It is clear that the Prince has found his true love, ditto Cinderella, and that all will live happily ever after.
Guests included Alexis Branagan, Carmella Lauer, Amanda Treiber, Seth Ives, Choong Hoon Lee, and George Sanders. All members of the troupe display good enthusiasm and excellent ballet technique.
Choreography was by Donald Mahler and the music: a recording of Sergei Prokofiev’s classic Cinderella.
The lovely costumes were by Metropolitan Opera’s resident costume designer Sylvia Taalsohn Nolan, with a simple but serviceable set by Gillian Bradshaw-Smith.
It’s very clear that the New York Theatre Ballet performs a wonderful service to the children of New York, by both entertaining them and educating them as to the wonders of dance. The company also operates a ballet school, offering scholarships to deserving young people.
Cinderella was part of NYTB’s Once Upon a Ballet series of one-hour ballets. The final ballet of this season’s series will be Carnival of the Animals & Sleeping Beauty’s Wedding, to take place May 10 and May 11, all at the comfortable and attractive Florence Gould Hall.
Florence Gould Hall
55 East 59th Street
Future ticket information: 800-982-2787, 212-355-6160, or visit nytb.org
Closed: March 2
Diana Barth publishes New Millennium, an arts publication. For information: