Cinderella Ballet Scored By Strauss, Not Just Prokofiev

Nov 20, 2014

Claire Amat and Michael Artrip during rehearsals for Cinderella
Credit Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

The Ballet Arts Ensemble will perform the ballet Cinderella at Chenery Auditorium in Kalamazoo, Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Most ballet companies dance Cinderella to music by Sergei Prokofiev written in the 1940s. But for this production Director Cathleen Huling mostly used an older suite.

“In my research, I found the ballet Cinderella written by Strauss back in the late 1800s and I didn’t realize that he had written the ballet Cinderella. I don’t think the story or the ballet took off very well, it wasn’t very popular. But the music is amazing and, like all of Strauss, it’s very melodic and beautiful and romantic. And I found for my choreography, I thought for my style and for my cast, it would be a better fit.”

That’s not to say there’s no Prokofiev in the dance. Huling says those compositions are perfect for those magical scenes with the fairy godmother.

Credit David H. Smith

Though the plot somewhat differs from the popular Disney movie, it’s full of happy endings—even the step sisters have something to look forward to.

The step sisters are by far the most colorful characters on stage, clumsily dancing around in bulkier shoes.

“It really goes more along with the silliness of the character too so we can make a little noise, stomp around. So I think the shoes really fit actually," says dancer Debby Norton.

Norton says in this production you’d never know that she and her stage sister Erin Rafferty have years of classical training.

“Even though somebody that’s watching us might think, ‘Oh, we could do that—they’re just fumbling around the stage. But it’s actually very highly choreographed,” she says.

Claire Amat has been dancing with the Ballet Arts School since she was about four years old. Now as a high school senior, Amat will be the leading lady in Cinderella - her last performance with the ensemble.

“I’m more of a shy person," says Amat. "So the dancing is what I love to do, but the acting is more difficult for me for sure.”

Artistic Director Cathleen Huling says the school will be sad to see Amat go, but Huling’s used to this.

“They are like your children and they graduate and they go off and they do other things," says Huling. "And it’s very rewarding to see that happen.” 

Though Cinderella herself undoubtedly gets the most stage time, many characters get their moment in the spotlight. Huling even created a special solo for the prince, played by Michael Artrip.

“We picked together a choreography that worked my personal strengths as well as things that she wanted to see in the variation," says Artrip. "So the chasses coupes jetés en manège—which in the circle around the stage—that’s just something I just personally enjoy doing. So that was something that I was like, ‘Yeah can we just throw that in there, cause that’s something that I like to do and it looks cool too.”

The public can see the Cinderella ballet on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Chenery Auditorium. But on Friday night, Huling says dancers will do a private rehearsal for kids at Bronson Hospital.

“They’re coming in for their chemo treatments at Bronson. And so they are immune compromised—they can’t be in large crowd, they can’t do things like this when they’re undergoing chemo therapy," Huling explains. "So, we invite them and their families, any of them who want to come.”