The Eglevsky Ballet will present the world premiere of Executive Artistic Director Maurice Brandon Curry’s production of the Sergei Prokofiev ballet “Cinderella.” This beloved ballet based on the fairy tale by Charles Perrault will be brought to life at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, May 12 at 1 and 6 p.m.
Establishing a period for this timeless tale was extremely important to Curry. “I have never been a fan of the ‘white wig and crinoline stories’ which make up so many of the fairy tales in the ballet canon,” he says. “I always feel as if it has been done better by some of the best so why try and recreate it? Additionally, I think our audiences, both youth and adult, deserve a fresh take on an old story.”
With that being said, Curry has set his production of “Cinderella” in the 1950s. “The beautiful score, the story, and the theme of hope are the same,” Curry says. “But the aesthetic look will be very different and quite magical.”
Assisting with the task of creating magic on the stage, Curry has assembled an exceptional team comprised of some of the finest artists working in theater, television, and film. Paul Miller, Broadway lighting designer (“Legally Blonde,” “Amazing Grace,”“MacBeth,” “Hairspray!”) will lend his talents to this new adaptation of the classic ballet. Karen Perry, award-winning television and film costume designer, will be responsible for the styling of the vintage costumes. Chris Takashima of Much Ado Tutus and Debra Bradley have created all the fantasy costumes for the Fairy Godmother and the Season Fairies. Animation design is by Shane Rutkowski, and props and set pieces are by Dan Mato and Ralph DeLuca of M.A.D. Props.
Eglevsky Ballet member Ali Paige Block will portray the title character. Block is a professional ballet and contemporary dancer based in New York City. She danced with Texas Ballet Theater and Eugene Ballet Company before moving to New York City in 2014. In New York, Block has danced with Claudia Schreier, Eglevsky Ballet, Columbia Ballet Collaborative, Edward Morgan Ballet, Exit12 Dance, and Brookoff Dance Repertory Company. With the Columbia Ballet Collaborative, she has worked with choreographers Emory LeCrone, Claudia Schreier, and Barry Kerollis. She has also danced with Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance, Sarasota Ballet, and as a guest artist with Verb Ballets. Additionally, she studies psychology at Columbia University.
Daniel Mantei will dance the role of Prince Nicolas. Mantei joined American Ballet Theatre Studio Company in 2002 and American Ballet Theatre’s corps de ballet in 2003. His roles with ABT included a dancing gentleman in Manon, Paris in “Romeo and Juliet,” the Russian Dance in “The Nutcracker,” leading male roles in “Continuo” and “Amazed in Burning Dreams,” and roles in “Black Tuesday,” “Duets,” “Jardin aux Lilas” and “Thirteen Diversions.” While at ABT, Mantei’s dance aesthetic became influenced by his mentor Maggie Black. As a choreographer, Mantei has created “Armaments,” “Tolling Bells,” and “Stare Decisis” for American Ballet Theatre. He has also created works for Columbia Ballet Collaborative, New York Theatre Ballet and The Seattle Symphony.
Throughout the history of the ballet “Cinderella,” the step-sisters are often portrayed en travesti (by a performer of the opposite sex). Continuing this tradition, Curry has developed it even further. Two guest dancers from the world-renowned troupe, Les Ballets Trockaderos, Alberto Pretto and Kevin Garcia, will appear as the step-sisters. Les Ballets Trockaderos (or “The Trocks” as they are affectionately known) are an American all-male ballet corps which parodies the conventions and clichés of romantic and classical ballet. The dancers perform as both men and women and dancing en pointe.
Curry said, “It has been so much fun choreographing for these dancers! In most productions of ‘Cinderella,’ the laughs come from silly bits of movement — quirky little steps. Because of the high skill level of these dancers, I have been able to fuel their acting with more comic moments and yet have more bravura moments in their dancing.”
The Fairy Godmother will be danced by Brittany Larrimer, who performed with Texas Ballet Theatre before relocating to New York City to train on full scholarship at the Joffrey Ballet School; later joining the Joffrey Ensemble. Larrimer joined Ajkun Ballet Theatre in New York City and performed an extensive range of classical and contemporary repertory as a principal dancer across the U.S., Europe and Australia. Brittany’s guest performances include Cyprus DanceAssociation, Dancers Responding to Aids, Dance Chicago and Universita di Danza e Teatro. This is her first season with Eglevsky Ballet.
This year marks the 100th birth of the founder of Eglevsky Ballet, André Eglevsky. It also marks the first time in over two decades the Eglevsky Ballet has presented a spring season. Curry says, “To celebrate this centennial birth of Mr. Eglevsky with a new production seemed appropriate. His vision was to bring the best of ballet and dance arts to Long Island. It is my hope this production will contribute to the organization’s mission and inspire and entertain our audiences.”
The Tilles Center for the Performing Arts is located at 720 Northern Blvd. in Brookville. For tickets, go to www.tillescenter.org or call the Tilles Center box office at 516-299-3100, Monday through Saturday, 1 to 6 p.m.