Another jewel of a performance

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By Special to the Monitor

The New Mexico Dance Theater Performance Company   (NMDT-PC) will fill the stage with magic once again next weekend when it performs director Susan Baker-Dillingham’s newest original ballet, “Cinderella,” Feb. 20–22. As a contribution to Los Alamos’ 60th anniversary celebration, NMDT-PC has invited Los Alamos’ own Living Treasures to attend the Sunday matinee as honored guests.

“Cinderella” will be another jewel among the ballets NMDT-PC has shown the community. “The glass slippers, the Fairy Godmother, the dazzling ball scenes: They’re all a beauty to behold,” Baker-Dillingham said. And as with other NMDT-PC ballets, the performance will be enjoyable for children and adults alike.

The story of Cinderella is timeless. One of the earliest references to the ballet is a version performed in 1813 in Vienna — and an even earlier pantomime was performed 10 years before that during Christmastime at Drury Lane, Theater Royal, in London. Since then, many choreographers have put their own spin on the classic story, Baker-Dillingham said. “We are performing to what I believe is the most traditional score created for the ballet; that by Sergei Prokofiev.”

Baker-Dillingham is no stranger to putting her own spin on the original story ballets performed by NMDT-PC that have come to be expected in the Los Alamos community. With other original and eclectic ballets under her belt such as “The Kingfisher and the Clam,” “Dracula,” Snow White” and “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” all created from scratch and performed in just the past few years, Baker-Dillingham is getting the hang of things  and so are her dancers.

“Since the founding of the NMDT School and Performance Company four and a half years ago, we have performed 10 full-length ballets, four excerpts from full-length ballets, three school shows and four spring recitals,” Baker-Dillingham said. “For ‘Cinderella,’ we have had minimal rehearsal hours and it looks as if the Company has performed the ballet for years. As with each production by NMDT-PC, each one is better than the last.

“I wouldn’t be able to create such ballets as these without the students that are coming up through the NMDT School,” Baker-Dillingham said. “We teach versatility, emotional depth and artistry, as well as well-grounded technique and we start all of that creativity at a very young age. That is what allows me to have           58 dancers on the stage during ‘Cinderella’ all of varying ages and yet it appears to be a very professional production.”

Due to the nature of the teaching at the NMDT School, students rising in the Company ranks learn very quickly,” Baker-Dillingham said. “NMDT-PC Ballet Mistress Selena Offenberg and I have put this ballet together in only six weekends of rehearsal, but you would never know it from the quality of the production.”

The production of “Cinderella” features 67 new costumes by NMDT-PC costume mistress Kenda Bultman and numerous volunteer seamstresses who conduct sewing parties at the Los Alamos Church of Christ. Winnie Lamartine and Don McLaughlin created the sets and props.

Featured dancers include Larissa Fortson as Cinderella, Zoe Martin as the Fairy Godmother, Bethany Sullivan as the Evil Stepmother, Chelsy Smith and Elizabeth Dombek as the Ugly Stepsisters and NMDT-PC Associate Director Daren Savage as the Prince.

The NMDT-PC production of “Cinderella” will be held at the Duane W. Smith Auditorium on Friday, Feb. 20, at                         7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 21 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available in advance at Village Arts, or at the door 45 minutes prior to performance times. Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for students and seniors and free for children four and under.

The New Mexico Dance Theater Performance Company is a nonprofit 501-c(3) organization. NMDT is located in the heart of downtown Los Alamos at 149 Central Park Square.

For more information about the School or the Performance Company, call 920-9134 or check the web site at www.NMDT.org.