The Joffrey Ballet returns to the Music Center sporting a new artistic director (Ashley C. Wheater) and a truly gorgeous production of Prokofiev’s Cinderella. The Joffrey is the first American dance company to receive the rights to the Sir Fredrick Ashton classic. The company, under Joffrey, was committed to Ashton’s work and it had long been a dream to produce Cinderella. It was never to be, until now.
This million-dollar production is the largest work the company has undertaken. Cinderella requires a cast of 50 plus 20 local school kids to fill in. The sets by David Walker are magical and the costumes, coming from the Dutch National Ballet, sparkled in the lights under the direction of Nicole Pierce. Then there is that gorgeous Prokofiev score.
This Ashton production of Cinderella was originally written for Dame Margot Fonteyn, but she hurt herself and was unable to perform so Moira Shearer (The Red Shoes) opened the production in 1948. Now, no cast could compete with that, but Prima Ballerina Victoria Jaiani was a dancer to behold. She reminded me of one of those ballerina figures you find in some music boxes. She can kick to the sky, and danced flawlessly. Miguel Angel Blanco, who danced the Prince, was no star (the company has created many) but he danced the part well and partnered well.
There were three dancers who really stole the show. The stepsisters were played by men, David Grombit and Michael Smith. They were hilarious. What was particularly nice to see was that they were not carbon copies of each other but had distinct personalities. And the Jester of Derrick Agnoletti who stole the show with his precise comic dancing and kicks to rival any ballerina.
The Joffrey was the resident ballet company for ten years at the Music Center. Scheduling, production costs, and less than full houses persuaded them to move to Chicago, a city which has embraced the troupe. Perhaps this beautiful production will rekindle the connection between Los Angeles and the Joffrey. They were certainly welcomed wholeheartedly by the audience.
Cinderella plays at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for five performances only, continuing Friday, with two on Saturday, and then a matinee on Sunday. Welcome home!Powered by Sidelines