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Cinderella

FOR RELEASE JANUARY 23, 2011
CONTACT: SHAUNA TYSOR
713 535 3226
KIM ESPINOSA
713 535 3224
pr@houstonballet.org

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Stanton Welch's Cinderella Is A Modern Take On A Classic Fairy Tale

From February 23-March 4, 2012, Houston Ballet presents Stanton Welch's staging of Cinderella, which was originally created for The Australian Ballet in 1997. A fresh new take on the familiar tale, Cinderella features lavish scenery and spectacular costumes by the late New Zealand designer Kristian Fredrickson. In Mr. Welch's staging, Cinderella is no downtrodden waif, but a gutsy tomboy who stands up for herself to fight against her stepsisters, and in the end chooses love over money in a twist to suit the 21st century.

Houston Ballet presented the American premiere of Mr. Welch's production of Cinderella in February 2008. Writing in Arts Houston Magazine in April 2008, critic Nancy Wozny pronounced the work "one rousing and very relevant ballet," observing, "Welch combined pathos, following the dark tenor of Prokofiev's score, with sharp wit and full bodied characters….Kristian Fredrikson's glorious storybook setting and luscious parade of gold-trimmed black gowns kept the thread alive."

The music of Serge Prokofiev's famous score for Cinderella inspired Mr. Welch to choreograph the ballet. "I first fell in love with Cinderella through its music. I was able to find a story of my own through the Prokofiev score, without seeing a ballet version until much later," he observed. In fashioning his scenario for the ballet, Mr. Welch drew upon several interpretations of Cinderella: the Brothers Grimm's dark fairy tale version Aschenputtel ("ash girl"), Gioacchino Rossini's famous 1817 opera, and the traditional English pantomime version of Cinderella, with its lovable servant, Buttons.

It was his brother Damien who indirectly inspired Stanton Welch to re-conceive the traditional version of Cinderella. Damien was appearing in The Australian Ballet School as Dandini, the Prince's assistant. "I just didn't like the prince," Mr. Welch remembers, laughing. "I thought that she should marry his valet Dandini."

At the end of Mr. Welch's staging, Cinderella finds true love not with the handsome, narcissistic prince, but with his mild-mannered valet, Dandini. "I think that the subtle, implicit message of the traditional Cinderella story -- that someone will magically appear to rescue you from a bad situation – is not a great message to send to a young child. It's about standing up for yourself, making your own decisions, choosing your own path, your own love," commented Mr. Welch.

In the spring of 1997, critic Patricia Laughlin from Dance International, observed, "The highlight of the year so far has been the world premiere of Stanton Welch's new version of Cinderella for The Australian Ballet. I find it by far the most interesting version of this work that I have seen. Although it has romance, beauty and humor, Welch has also drawn on the dark, almost sinister thread which runs through Prokofiev's musical score....Each time I saw this ballet, I enjoyed it more. People were leaving the theatre bubbling with enthusiasm, and many were heard to say, ‘I would love to see it again.’"

The production includes lavish wigs and 207 sumptuous costumes using materials ranging from silk, lace and laser fabrics to heavy tweed, stretch denim and lycra. Mr. Fredrickson also created a series of lavish and spectacular ball gowns for the stepmother and the stepsisters, who are portrayed by men who dance on pointe. 

Mr. Fredrickson created the sets and costumes for many of Stanton Welch's ballets including: Of Blessed Memory (1991) Cinderella (1997) and The Sleeping Beauty (2005) for The Australian Ballet; and for Houston Ballet, the Pecos Bill section of Tales of Texas (2004) and Swan Lake (2006), the final production of his long and distinguished career before his death in 2005. In addition to Mr. Welch's staging, Mr.  Fredrickson designed two other productions of the work: a staging of Sir Frederick Ashton's version for The Australian Ballet in 1972 and a production by English choreographer Jack Carter for the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 1992.