State Street Ballet’s Cinderella, staged at the Granada last weekend, was like the theater itself-a faithful retelling of an old story, but with plenty of colorful surprises.
Guest artist Ezlimar Dortolina held the show’s center as the story’s ever-hopeful, ever-faithful heroine. The stepsisters-danced by John Christopher Piel and Sergei Domrachev-were clothed in hilarious drag, complete with complicated hoop skirts, piled-on makeup, long nails, and squeezed-together cleavage. With his subtle but skillfully timed mincing, ill-conceived flirting, and pouting, Piel provided a nice foil to Domrachev’s broad physical antics and facial expressions.
Although his roles were small, the self-possessed Bayaraa Badamsambuu stood out. As the Summer Fairy, Andrea Dawn Shelley was radiant (after she danced her solo, my eight-year-old daughter leaned over and whispered, “She’s my favorite!”); and in her role as the Autumn Fairy, Jennifer Rowe dug into her movement with joy, technical skill, and passion.
As is the custom in State Street Ballet’s productions, choreographer Rodney Gustafson found plenty of ways to include young dancers from Gustafson Dance. He managed to make a gang of young boys in owl suits actually sinister, with stiff, staccato movements and serious expressions. Among the other young performers’ roles were mice, butterflies, birds, and little fairies, plus a tiny cupid who drew an arrow and shot the Prince-the dashing Spencer Gavin-in the pivotal moment at the ball. Jose Edwin Gonzales, another visiting artist, performed a duet with State Street Ballet company member Victoria Luchkina; between his astonishing jumps and leaps and her superlative extension and port de bras, there was nothing left to desire.
Costume designer A. Christina Giannini and wardrobe manager Anaya Cullen are due some serious kudos for their creativity with color, their inventive variations on the traditional hoop skirt, and their use of just the right amount of movement and luminosity. Clad in those inspired costumes and inhabiting Gustafson’s slick choreography, the dancers of State Street Ballet reminded us once again how fortunate we are in Santa Barbara to call this remarkable company our own.