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Jo Tomalin

SF Ballet’s Cinderella – Magical!

By April 3, 2023April 18th, 2023No Comments

Misa Kuranaga in Wheeldon’s Cinderella© // © Lindsay Thomas

San Francisco Ballet presents Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella©, set to Sergei Prokofiev’s score, March 31 to April 8, 2023 at San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House, orchestra conducted by Martin west. This three act ballet is glorious in its visual storytelling, production design and of course, the fine tuned precision and flourish of the San Francisco Ballet.

The leading and character roles are played by a different cast at each performance and on opening night, March 31, 2023 Cinderella was danced by Misa Kuranaga. This role is strenuous in the amount of choreography and emoting the character does in her journey as an orphan to fulfil her dreams of going to the ball. We all know the story and what happens eventually, but Wheeldon took elements from several versions of the Cinderella story as told decades ago, and this Cinderella is fresh in the new ideas and imagery it brings.

Misa Kuranaga and Isaac Hernández in Wheeldon’s Cinderella© // © Lindsay Thomas

Kuranaga is notable as Cinderella with lovely projection and sublime, fluid movement throughout all her solos, duets and when she joins other groups along the way. Throughout the entire ballet she sustains her light dance quality and goes through a range of emotions from sadness to pure joy and wonderment.

Jennifer Stahl as Hortensia, the stepmother is beautifully strange, usually accompanied by her two daughters, Cinderella’s stepsisters, danced by Elizabeth Powell and Ellen Rose Hummel, forming a deliciously quirky and powerful trio with choreography and angular movement to match.

Prince Guillaume danced by Isaac Hernandez is Cinderella’s romantic lead and works well with his childhood friend, Benjamin, danced by charismatic Esteban Hernández. Their sword interplay is mirrored in Act 1 when the boys were young children and then become grown up versions – this makes a connection and through line to focus on throughout the story timeline.

Tiit Helimets plays Cinderella’s Father partnered with Cinderella’s Mother, Kamryn Baldwin in some tender parental moments.

San Francisco Ballet in Wheeldon’s Cinderella© // © Lindsay Thomas

A curious group of characters in dark blue and black waft in and out of each act adding an ethereal element to the storytelling. They are ‘helpers’ as in various genres of theatre and performance and interact with and around Cinderella and others somewhat like a Greek Chorus, moving the story forward and facilitating otherworldly action. These are the Fates, a dynamic group danced by Daniel Deivison-Oliveira, Steven Morse, Alexander Reneff-Olson, John-Paul Simoens. The Fates are a vital part of this witty reimagining of Cinderella – and they look like they are having too much fun!

San Francisco Ballet in Wheeldon’s Cinderella© // © Lindsay Thomas

Outstanding scenic and beautiful costume design by the renowned Julian Crouch is creativity personified. Stunning sets and transitions truly transport the audience into the magical nether world and back to reality with clever choices that work together perfectly with Wheeldon’s imagination and vision. Lighting design by Natasha Katz and Projection design by Daniel Brodie are all part of this magic together with Basil Twist for his show stopping tree and carriage sequence direction/design.

If you have not yet seen Wheeldon’s Cinderella, do so, it will take you away to where anything is possible!

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Jo Tomalin, Ph.D. reviews Dance, Theatre & Physical Theatre Performances
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