Saturday, May 16
Carolina Ballet at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium

“The shoes make the woman,” Carolina Ballet’s playbill boasted of Cinderella. Margaret Severin-Hansen, who played the title role, lived up to the statement with her bedazzled pointe slippers. To close its 2014/15 season (see the 2015/16 schedule), Carolina Ballet delivered its rendition of the well-known fairytale at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, and it did not disappoint.

The show adhered to the familiar storyline, albeit with a few embellishments in plot and character development. Starting with a prologue, the audience sees Cinderella mourning over her father’s tombstone. Following after her are the haughty stepsisters and self-centered stepmother, who laugh and pull Cinderella away. This scene effectively established Cinderella’s backstory.

Cinderella then did her chores while her step-family lounged around, and that is when the members of the royal court came in with an invitation to the prince’s ball. What was interesting was that one of the members, the prince’s brother, was quite the ladies’ man and even charmed the evil stepmother. Such moments of comic relief were present throughout the piece. The stepsisters presented a slapstick style of characterization that rivaled the Disney version.

The fairy godmother restricting Cinderella to a midnight curfew, though difficult to convey solely through dance, was depicted in a lucid manner. Twelve girls from Cary Ballet Conservatory were placed in a circular formation, acting as the hands of a clock; they had corresponding numbers attached to them as visual representations of their significance. The fairy godmother then pointed to each “hand” in a stern manner, indicating the curfew in a distinct fashion.

During the ball, the stepsisters’ choreography consisted of grotesque steps, but the execution retained sound technique. Even their clumsy interaction with the usually poised prince evoked laughter from the audience. The final pas de deux after the prince and Cinderella reunited included numerous lifts, assisted multiple pirouettes and one impressive toss-catch of the ballerina. Severin-Hansen’s execution of the penché manifested in long extensions of her working leg.

There was a single piano in the orchestra pit, yet the music filled the large hall with resonance. The dexterous pianist, Karl Moraski, also composed the infectious musical score. Costuming was not only ornate; the fact that the slippers matched the ladies’ colorful dresses displayed the meticulous attention that went into the wardrobe. Overall, Carolina Ballet’s Cinderella was a humorous and refreshing take on a beloved childhood classic, portrayed with grace and proficiency.