Dance Class Field Trip

Joy Xu

Stephanie Weigelt
On Wednesday, October 26th, Stephanie Weigelt’s Advanced Dance Class travelled to the Kennedy Center to see the ballet Cinderella performed by the world-renowned San Francisco Ballet. This production was choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, one of the most celebrated choreographers today who has also worked on the ballets Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Winter’s Tale. The music, written by Sergei Prokofiev, was performed by the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, which the class could view from their seats in the balcony.

Rather than the actual show, Weigelt’s class had the opportunity to witness the full dress rehearsal of the ballet before the company’s first performance, which would take place later that night. As such, the performers would sometimes stop or the orchestra’s playing would halt as the director called out instructions or gave the dancers feedback. Being able to observe the Prince with his hands on his knees, panting for breath after a particularly strenuous routine, was a fascinating experience that actual show goers would not have had the privilege of enjoying.

The choreography was beautifully executed by the dancers, full of amazing partnered lifts and occasional touches of humor. One prime example of this took place in Act One, when the Prince’s friend Benjamin deplored the younger stepsister Clementine for her bad breath. This was somewhat counteracted by the fact that Benjamin and Clementine later fell in love, but the audience was willing to forget this small detail in the wake of the dancers’ brilliant technique and acting abilities.

Other excellent aspects of the ballet included the costumes and set design, both done by Julian Crouch. Cinderella’s dress at the ball was a particular delight on the eyes: a stunning gold number that glittered with every little movement, completed by a pair of gold pointe shoes. Highlights of the set included a tree that waved and grew throughout the show (thanks to puppeteer Basil Twist) and the carriage that took Cinderella to the ball. This carriage was ingeniously created by four giant spinning wheels drawn by horses (dancers) and a wind machine that lifted Cinderella’s golden train, making it billow out behind her. The show also made use of a transparent screen that would sometimes lower before the dancers, giving the stage an almost ethereal feel.

Overall, the dress rehearsal of Cinderella was enchanting, and Weigelt’s class was reluctant to leave the theater. Unfortunately, they could only witness the first two Acts of the show before having to get on the bus back to school. In spite of this, however, the class left with no doubt in their minds that the third and final Act of Cinderella would be just as magnificent as the two that had preceded it.