Childrens’ dancing brings fairy tale ‘Cinderella’ to life

February 1, 2011

By Alysha Alibhai

If you recognize the love story that casts two evil stepsisters, a fairy godmother and an irresistible prince, then you will be familiar with the story of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s next production.

Chloe Chow (center) and two other young ballet dancers rehearse choreography Jan. 26 for a scene from Pacific Northwest Ballet’s upcoming ‘Cinderella’ production. By Alysha Alibhai

The timeless fairy tale “Cinderella” debuts at McCaw Hall Feb. 4 in time for Valentine’s Day. The excitement is brewing as three Issaquah children prepare for their parts in the highly anticipated show.

The stars

Anna Park, Chloe Chow and Vincent Bennett sat patiently in a studio among their fellow cast members in The Phelps Center waiting for rehearsal to begin Jan. 26, 10 days before opening night. Poised and elegant are not typical words used to describe children of their age, but these young dancers are as focused as they are talented.

“This production is much different than other ‘Cinderellas,’” Kent Stowell said to the rehearsal audience.

He choreographed the production based on the classic French fairy tale and is one of the founding artistic directors of the ballet company.

“It’s a classic story and it’s really fun,” said Anna, a ballerina from Challenger Elementary School. Anna has been dancing since age 5, and said she is “very excited” to be a part of this show.

Vincent, who also attends Challenger, is the youngest of the three Issaquah ballet stars and is in the third grade. He first became fascinated with the art form after watching “The Nutcracker” and has been dancing since he was 3, said his mom Aleksandra Bennett.

Although there are quite a few boys in the production, the ratio of male to female dancers is far from equal. Despite this, Vincent dances with the same confidence and gracefulness as his female counterparts.

“It’s very natural for him to dance,” his mother said. “He finds it easy, fun and interesting.”

Dance comes naturally to Chloe as well, who, like the other two children, has been dancing most of her life.

“I’m really nervous,” Chloe said about her role as little Cinderella.

Chloe is a fourth-grader in the Magnet Program at Cascade Ridge Elementary School and “has shown great interest and appreciation [for] ballet since she was 2 years old,” said her mother Alisa Chow.

“I admire the way the moves we do have a story behind [them],” said Chloe, her eyes shining bright with excitement.

You can tell that these children are here because they love it.

An extraordinary commitment

A lot of time has been put into the elaborate costumes, set and choreography, according to Judith Austin, a public relations and marketing assistant for PNB.

Everyone involved has been working hard, but there are substantial rewards, she said. Ballet teaches kids “an extraordinary amount of discipline and focus” that ultimately transcends into other aspects of their lives.

Chloe, Anna and Vincent all aspire to be professional ballet performers when they grow up, but they are also committed to academic success.

Because they love ballet so much they find a way to fit everything else in, Bennett said of her son’s ability to juggle ballet, school, piano, sports and his social life.

From shuttling their kids to rehearsals and costume fittings to attending the shows and everything in between, parents also make a big commitment.

But it’s worth it, Chow said.

“Performing in a production like this is rewarding, motivating and builds self confidence,” she said.

“It’s something you’re going to want to see,” Anna said, encouraging everyone to come watch the performance.

“You’ll find me,” Chloe assured. “I’m going to be wearing a blue dress with puffy sleeves.”

If you go

‘Cinderella’

  • Feb. 4-13
  • Show times vary.
  • Learn more and buy tickets at www.pnb.org

Alysha Alibhai is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com

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