Norman, Okla., Nov. 15, 2012 – The University of Oklahoma University Theatre and School of Dance present Oklahoma Festival Ballet. A new version of Cinderella will premiere in the production choreographed by Mary Margret Holt, director of the School of Dance and artistic director of Oklahoma Festival Ballet and faculty member Steve Brule. Oklahoma Festival Ballet will also perform George Balanchine’s Valse-Fantaisie (1953). Performances are 8:00 p.m. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 6, 7, 8 and at 3:00 p.m. on Dec. 2 and 9, in the Donald W. Reynolds Performing Arts Center inside historic Holmberg Hall, Norman.
Cinderella is set to Sergei Prokofiev’s melodious score. The piece is set in the French Empire period, with costumes designed by Lloyd Cracknell, OU Helmerich School of Drama faculty member. Holt and Brule have transformed the full-evening ballet into two acts. “We wanted to turn the grand fairy tale into an intimate, more personal story,” said Holt. “We focused on the heart of the score, which is breathtaking, to help form the intimate feeling.” Brule admitted, “I have adored this music from the very first time I heard the score, dancing at Houston Ballet, and I am very lucky to get to choreograph music that I have loved for years.” Melanie Jensen and Nicole Reehorst will alternately perform the role of Cinderella, Zeek Wright and Nathan Young will dance the Prince, Natalie Kischuk and Melanie Jensen will perform to role of the Fairy Godmothers and Steve Brule and Donn Edwards will portray the Stepsisters. “It’s great to be able to work with Donn again, since he has retired from the School of Dance faculty. To be in something that you have choreographed is a challenge. One has to really rely on rehearsal directors to confirm what works and what does not. Because this is my final year with the School of Dance, I am really torn, because I have a great group of dancers to work with for my last project, which makes it even more difficult to leave,” stated Brule.
George Balanchine's Valse-Fantaisie, staged by Leslie Peck — formerly of New York City Ballet, Houston Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet — is a light, charming ballet for a principal couple and an ensemble of four women. The work is set to the music of Mikhail Glinka. “The wonderfully melodic waltz is made richer with echoes of slightly melancholic undertones,” Holt declared. The review in The New York Times about the January 1953 premiere, John Martin opined, “Balanchine has set three of his most enchanting ballerinas in a kind of perpetuum mobile, dainty, lilting, fleet and studied with brilliance. A partner attends them all, less to dance in his own right than to serve as an adjunct to their dancing. The music, winning and melodious, with no break, no change of tempo, passes from persuasiveness to virtual hypnosis, and it is easy to realize why once the genteel waltz was considered an instrument of the devil.” This dainty Balanchine work in combination with Cinderella surely makes for an enchanting holiday program for the entire family.
The University of Oklahoma’s dance program was founded in 1963 by Yvonne Chouteau and Miguel Terekhov, former principal dancers with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. What had been a department became the School of Dance in 1998, with Mary Margaret Holt as Director. Undergraduate and graduate dance majors, along with general education students, total approximately 1,000 enrollees in dance classes per semester. The School of Dance's state-of-the-art facility located in the Donald W. Reynolds Performing Arts Center was completed in 2005.
Tickets prices for Oklahoma Festival Ballet are $22 for adults and $18 for senior adults, OU faculty, and staff and military, and $14 for students. The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution. For tickets and accommodations on the basis of disability, please call the Fine Arts Box Office at (405) 325-4101.