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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

You’ll have a ‘ball’ going to see Vanderbilt Ballet Theatre’s ‘Cinderella’

Vanderbilt Ballet Theatre will host their rendition of Cinderella on April 16.
George Albu
A ballerina steadily walks across the stage, as photographed on April 15, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/George Albu)

When you think of fairy tales, magic and miracles the following might come to mind: the grandiose dresses, the dramatic plots, the iconic characters. Very few characters could be considered as iconic as “Cinderella” and the story of her magic glass slipper. What could make “Cinderella” even better than its original bedtime classic? Add poofy dresses, glittery chest plates and orchestral music, and then you’ll have the magic of fairytale ballet. With the show on April 16 at 7 p.m. CDT, the production is an excellent choice as a late-minute wondershow.  In 45 minutes, Vanderbilt Ballet Theatre (VBT) acts out the plot of “Cinderella” fluidly, with all of the hips and hops ballet lovers desire!

Act One

The production started with Cinderella, played by senior Natalie Scherr bustling back and forth on stage as she acted out house chores. Without a second of hesitation, Scherr did an impressive job of quickly changing her stance on stage. Next came the notorious stepsisters played by seniors Nadia McGlynn and Cameron Peloso, and accompanied by sophomore Nina Liu as the evil stepmother. The matching dresses for the three help provide context to audience members who might have never seen the ballet adaptation of the fairytale, bringing a nice touch to understanding the play without extensive memorization of the acts. 

Before long, the jester rushed in from the side of the stage with two cards in hand going towards the three girls. As some might know, Cinderella is left out of the royal ball, being forced to help tailor the stepsisters’ dresses. Something I have counted on VBT to ace ever since seeing their rendition of “The Nutcracker” is the vibrancy of the costumes. Seeing the bright reds and purples gliding in Cinderella’s hand across the stage foreshadowed my later excitement in seeing the stepsisters’ at the royal ball.
Once the stepfamily left the stage, the Fairy Godmother, played by senior Gabby Wodka, comforted the saddened Cinderella on stage. Something that instantly caught my attention was the Fairy Godmother’s wand. The golden wand and crown seemed to sparkle like the sun on stage, with Wodka gracefully twirling the wand around Cinderella. Despite the physically taxing work of dancing, the ballerinas always kept their smiles on stage when called for. 

Act One ended with the seasonal fairies taking the stage one by one. In the opinion of senior Nicole Arsenault, who plays the Summer Fairy, the fairies are truly what “adds the magic” to the Godmother’s performance. With the fairies dispersing after summoning the dress of Cinderella’s dreams, the Godmother warned Cinderella of the timed limitation of the magic. In this scene, the backdrop came with a grandfather clock face as the clock rings in a deep bassy pitch. These touches in sound design alongside the use of the original orchestral music added a strong sense of immersion in the production, with VBT appearing to master the use of sound to make the audience almost feel like they live in the world of Cinderella. 

Act Two

As the curtain reopened, I could not have imagined what was going to happen. The act started in the royal ball, a highlight of the expertise of VBT as ballerinas rotated taking turns in the spot, with plenty of twirls and pickups by ballerinos to keep the sparks flying throughout the start of the act. The Prince, played by junior Marius Schueller, looked unsatisfied sitting on a bench. He watched as ballerinas took turns trying to impress him with their routines. 

That was until Cinderella came, the graceful movements flowed like doves through the air, with the Prince spinning Cinderella around like a top. The exquisite movements were sadly not seen by the other ballerinas on stage, as they began to sleep once the clock approached midnight. Swiftly, Cinderella dawned a beautiful white veil as Scherr rushed down some steps and in front of the stage. This specific piece of the performance is a highlight of the flexible communication between the cast, as they debated during rehearsal on the spot where Cinderella moves on stage, making modifications in consideration of the cast’s well-being. 

Once the Prince woke, he found the glass slipper and held it up high with the dramatic movements of the ballerinas on stage exemplifying the effect of drama. The Prince went with his jester to houses around the kingdom, with the stepsisters providing a comedic effect as they tried on the slipper. The first stepsister smiled as she confidently pointed to herself as the Prince’s lover. The performance got better as the other stepsister fell backward in trying on the slipper, complete with facial expressions and flailing arms. Lastly, as the Prince began to give up on finding his love, Cinderella snuck up behind him with one tap. In that moment, the Prince picked up Cinderella and spun her around in the air, creating a splendid moment to end the play with smiles all around on stage.

It is one thing to perform “Cinderella” tastefully. It’s another to perform it masterfully. The cast has thoroughly rehearsed, the movements gliding like wind through the air, bringing a sense of professionalism that has consistently been seen in VBT performances. Tonight’s performance of “Cinderella” will be the debut performance of the show by the VBT. Overall, the team morale on stage was borderline magical in its own right. Watching as the team coordinated on the spot, making minor tweaks to improve the performance, it was clear that the performers took their roles with professionalism and splendor. I would strongly recommend anybody with even a mild interest in dance to book their tickets as soon as possible. I’m sure you won’t regret taking the mystical trip to Langford Auditorium!

Photograph of the cast of Vanderbilt Ballet’s “Cinderella” coming up from the final bow, as photographed on April 15, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/George Albu) (George Albu)
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About the Contributor
George Albu
George Albu, Staff Writer and Photographer
George Albu (‘27) is majoring in medicine, health and society in the College of Arts and Science. When not working for The Hustler, he enjoys taking long walks around campus, reading or watching video essays about anything and everything online. He can be reached at [email protected].
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