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Oklahoma City Ballet puts a new spin on a centuries-old fairy tale

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Oklahoma City Ballet’s production of Cinderella kicks off a season of entirely new shows in OKC.

Published in collections like those of the Brothers Grimm, Cinderella tells the story of a young servant girl mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters. Thanks to the intervention of a fairy godmother, she is gifted with fine clothes and a carriage that conveys her to a ball where she catches the eye of the prince.

In creating this new adaptation, OKC Ballet Master Jacob Sparso drew inspiration from the fairytale and a Sergei Prokofiev score originally commissioned by the Bolshoi Ballet in 1945 that also accompanies this weekend’s production.

“The score is glorious and pretty much tells the story just listening to it,” Sparso said.

While Sparso looks at what has come before, he strives to create a unique vision with original choreography.

“What has always been very important to me is that acting, mime and dance go together and have a natural flow, so the audience really can understand and feel what is happening on stage,” he said.

For this production, the role of Cinderella has been double-cast with dancers Miki Kawamura and DaYoung Jung taking turns in the glass slippers. Rather than insisting that the dancers duplicate the performance, Sparso encouraged them to make the part their own.

“I try to give the dancers the emotion that’s needed for the roles,” he said, “but I like when they find their own way to convey the character, style and feelings.”

While there are many things that could be contemporized in any fairy tale, Mills said that he and Sparso wanted to give OKC a beautiful, traditional version of Cinderella. Bolstering that vision will be the costume and sets by British designer Alun Jones.

“His designs, especially in the second act, are royal and opulent, while the look of the first act in Cinderella’s house are very realistic — drab and sorrowful,” Mills said.

Sparso is excited for audiences to see this classic tale retold through the power of dance and music.

“The performance is funny and a little sad, but Cinderella will get her prince in the end,” he said.

There will be children’s activities before each performance, including a station sponsored by Oklahoma Contemporary where they can make their own magical pumpkin and fairy wand. A meet-and-greet with the dancers follows both matinees.

Print Headline: Under their spell, Oklahoma City Ballet puts a new spin on a centuries-old fairy tale in a nimble-footed adaptation of Cinderella.

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