CINDERELLA, Julie Andrews, aired March 31, 1957
Is Julie Andrews not the most wonderful, talented, awe-inspiring human? While as a child I fell in love with her as Mary Poppins and Fraulien Maria, her interpretation of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella for the 1957 CBS special is actually a newfound love of mine. Andrews’ portrayal is genuine, her voice exquisite, and her graceful smile utterly charming. Just before the clock strikes midnight, she gazes into the face of her Prince in seeming disbelief at the existence of such perfect love. It’s truly superb acting. Now excuse me while I fangirl and study…
When I was little, my family regularly crowded around our tiny tv set for a viewing of the 1965 CBS television version of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. I would often block the screen with my passionate interpretation of Leslie Ann Warren’s epic post-ball backyard ballet solo, straining my neck in an effort to emulate her swanny proportions. The film’s credits would always be followed by my encore performance of “In My Own Little Corner”, complete with a tiny wooden chair, original choreography, and spirited singing. My mother graciously applauded every time, bless her heart.
In preparation for this week’s performances, I’m rewatching my childhood favorites (as I write this, clips of Julie Andrews in the 1957 live CBS special are on a loop and Evans-family-favorite Ever After is up next), gathering inspiration with a heaping side of nostalgia. This particular Cinderella’s world feels so very ’60s, in a wash of bright orange, pea green, and brown. It all harkens a very October tale, sets and costumes reflecting autumn colors fit to accompany the eerie Prokofiev score rolling around in my mind. I’m studying the longing look in Warren’s eyes, the soft lifting in her brows and the twisting of her mouth as she smiles shyly toward the prince…
Things have been BEYOND busy around here; Last week was our final in the studio before hitting the stage and closing the 39th season this week. So yeah. I’m not too proud to admit there were tears. There was blood. And oh, was there sweat. Buckets and buckets of sweet, salty, sweat (see post-run sweat-stained selfies above).
For me, the week culminated in my first Cinderella-as-Cinderella run on Friday night, 2 more runs as Fairy Godmother and Summer Fairy on Saturday, and a big long 40th Season photoshoot on Sunday. Today it’s Monday, and the week still seems to be ending, not beginning, with an extension of yesterday’s photoshoot this morning. The life of a ballet dancer!
It’s been hectic and exhausting and stressful and consuming, but I’m trying to let myself get swept up in the weight of it all knowing that one week from today, my carriage will turn into a pumpkin and my waltzing feet will wear sneakers instead of slippers.
Prokofiev is back in the studios, leading us through his most valtziest, schmaltziest of scores: Cinderella. Lately that classic melody has been filling every bit of free space in my head with its eerie brimstone canter. Daa-na, da na na na naaa…
This time around I’m doing a bit of a straddle across the ballet, dancing roles in every realm from corps to principal. That’s the beauty of an unranked company; you never know where the next rehearsal will take you! Wednesday morning I was in the back of the grand studio, a shivering Cinderella waltzing with her broom, then a Summer Fairy, attempting to personify the haze of balmy weather through a casual roll into plié. Next I was swept off into the ballroom by my handsome Prince Charming, only to be whisked into the wind as the ethereal Fairy Godmother. At night I returned to the studios a ball guest, giving in to the dark saccharine theme permeating the room.
The career of a ballet dancer hinges almost entirely on brain power. As much as it will impose upon your body (hello, angry calves), it will challenge your mind even further; “Can you learn an entire ballet- and keep it together!- in a week?” Ballet wants to know. “Can you portray an orphan child, a rich party goer, and several types of mythical creatures? Can you do it earnestly, genuinely, can you really?” Well, let’s find out.
photo by Samantha Wong.