For PBT's production of Septime Webre's "Cinderella," Christine Schwaner and Nurlan Abougaliev are among those dancing the roles of Cinderella and the prince, with Stephen Hadala and Nicholas Coppula pictured as the wicked stepsisters.
By Sara Bauknecht Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will draw the curtain on its 43rd season with a happily ever after.
Dancers will reprise the classic fairy tale "Cinderella," with the PBT orchestra, for four performances starting Friday at the Benedum Center, Downtown.
PBT has staged the story of Cinderella's transformation from cleaning girl to queen of the ball three times: a Ben Stevenson version in 1995 and 2002 and an adaptation by Septime Webre in 2009. It will be Webre's version again this weekend.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's 'Cinderella'
Where: Benedum Center, Downtown.
When: When: 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. next Sunday.
Tickets: Start at $25.75 at www.pbt.org or 412-456-6666.
Other events: At 6 p.m. Friday, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will honor Dr. Freddie H. Fu's 30th season providing health and wellness support to dancers through UPMC's Sports Medicine program. At 4:30 p.m. next Sunday, PBT will celebrate the end of its 2012-13 season with its annual En Pointe cast party at Pierce Studio, 805-807 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Tickets are $65 apiece, $100 for two or $35 for students with valid ID at www.pbt.org or 412-454-9137.
"It's very, very funny," artistic director Terrence Orr says. "It's got some wonderful dancing by all members of the company, but I think Septime's wonderful quip on it is his understanding of the stepsisters."
Male dancers play the role of Cinderella's jealous stepsisters, giving the ballet a dose of comic relief.
"We're a bunch of beautiful women, Rob [Moore] and I," says corps de ballet member Alejandro Diaz. "We're 6-foot-4 and absolutely glamorous. It's a fun role."
His experience playing the part four years ago is helping him get into character this time.
"The first time I did it, I was very nervous and very self-conscious because it's a very difficult role," he says. "You have to feel really confident in your own shoes. This time around, I feel much more confident. Getting to do this role now is more fun than it is work."
In addition to belly laughs, the ballet is packed with beautiful scenery and costumes, including a pair of special dazzling pointe shoes that Cinderella loses at the ball. Children from the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School will portray enchanted garden creatures, including bees, snow angels and butterflies.
"It's a really over-the-top kind of fairy tale come to life production," says principal Alexandra Kochis, who will play Cinderella opposite her husband Christopher Budzynski as the prince. Other pairs cast as these parts include principals Christine Schwaner and Nurlan Abougaliev, soloists Eva Trapp and Alexandre Silva and Amanda Cochrane and Luca Sbrizzi.
"I always love dancing with my husband, whether it's a tragedy or a comedy," she says. "He really just brings me to life on stage, especially in the second-act pas de deux that's Cinderella's first moment realizing someone cares for her. When you can look back into somebody's eyes and see real love there, that's pretty special."
The Prokofiev score introduces musical themes for key characters that play when they enter a scene.
"There are striking moments when Cinderella enters the ball, and the music is just perfect," Mr. Diaz says. "You're just sitting there like, 'Wow, here she comes,' and the music prepares you for that."
No matter someone's age, or whether they've read "Cinderella" once or 100 times, seeing it on stage brings something fresh to the experience.
"The ballet is an escape," Ms. Kochis says. "You can highlight all different types of emotion through dance, and I really hope that they keep their minds open and come back to each and every show to see something different."