Ballet by and for the Young
Here on a visit, the senior students of Britain's Royal Ballet School showcased their talents and training (Kaye Playhouse, February). Compared with their counterparts at the Paris Opéra Ballet School (seen earlier this season) and those of the School of American Ballet (in their annual spring Workshop Performances), the London-based dancers inevitably disappointed New York fans, who favor sharp technique, high energy, and a sophisticated style. The Royal Ballet School hopefuls performed their assigned tasks carefully and competently, always with attention to grace. But they're stolidin spirit as well as body. Their dancing contains little breath, little evidence of imagination, almost no expression beyond what can be rehearsed. Their repertory paid the expected homage to the Royals key choreographers, Frederick Ashton and Kenneth Macmillan, and gave far more than equal time to the work of Christopher Wheeldon, its celebrated alum, who has, ironically, chosen New York as his home base. Tobi Tobias
The outright charm of New York Theatre Ballet's hour-long Cinderella (Florence Gould Hall, February), part of their child-oriented series "Once Upon a Ballet," is certainly not lost on the mature reveler. With the pure, precise choreography of Donald Mahler, it avoids morphing into a cutesy show, sculpting a just-magical-enough fairy tale romance between Cynthia Sheppard as Cinderella and Terence Duncan as the prince. Sheppard's dreamy-eyed solo gleams with elongated, wistful extensions, and the ballroom pas de deux effortlessly captures the pair's rapture with weightless, embracing lifts. The gangling gambols of Keith Michael and David Parker as the stepsisters exceed the level of delight likely to ensue when flexed-footed cross-dressers are plopped into a classical ballet. Add dazzling costumes, a mobile set that open-sesames to reveal each of three scenes, and the swelling Prokofiev excerpts selected for this adaptation, and one is a glass slippers throw from being completely mesmerized. Michelle Fowler
See excerpts from NYTB's other kids' ballets this weekend at the Dance Gallery; call 212-679-0401 fir reservations and information.
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