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Arts and Entertainment

Springfield Ballet Offers In-Person And Streaming Options For "Cinderella"

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(Poster courtesy Springfield Ballet)
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Springfield Ballet is preparing their revival of their “Cinderella” production from 2014, for performances live at the Landers Theatre, 311 E. Walnut, next Friday through Sunday April 16-18, as well as streaming online. We talked with Springfield Ballet Executive Director Ashley Walton and Springfield Ballet School principal, Maria Hall.                                     

“We are really excited to be able to provide this production,” said Walton. “We did it back in 2014, and are just honored to be able to bring it back this year.  

Opening the performance will be a new piece choreographed by Maria Hall. “I actually grew up dancing at Springfield Ballet,” she said. And then I went to college to get a degree, danced a little bit professionally, and then came back. And now it's full circle being School Principal at the Ballet. It's really special.”  This “Cinderella” production, with original choreography by Springfield Ballet staff, was Hall’s final show with the company before she left for college in 2014. “To be able to come back and reteach the choreography, give it some new, different moves and artistic qualities, and also choreograph a contemporary ballet piece for some of the dancers, was really special for me, using new music, new style of dancing for these kids to get to learn.”

Hall’s piece is called “Resilience,” and she says she based it “off the crazy year the whole world has had; and just the term ‘resilience,’ meaning going through a struggle and the way you pick yourself back up—and the strength that comes from that. So really, with the dancers, I've been working on who they are as people, and how they can show that to the audience and really speak from their hearts and their souls.”

Springfield Ballet’s production of “Cinderella” utilizes music from three composers: Sergei Prokofiev, Josef Bayer (Austrian ballet and operetta composer), and Georges Bizet.

The dancers, more than 80 students and adults, have had to adapt to the realities of the pandemic, of course. “All of our dancers wear masks, and we have a limited space for every studio that we have,” according to Ashley Walden. “And then in rehearsals, we're also being very conscious of making sure kids aren't hugging all the time and stuff like that. And they're really, really good about that. And we're really lucky to have students that are willing to wear their masks all the way from younger kids. So they're very willing. And so that's been great. And I think the kids are just so excited to be able to be performing again in whatever capacity they're able to.” The ballet students range in age from four up to twenty-two, as well as some adults performing the larger roles in the ballet.  The dancers all wear clear masks, not only on stage while performing, but also backstage.

And masks will be required for audience members. But they expect to be able to seat more people in the Landers next weekend, according to Ashley Walden. Before she and Maria Hall came to our studio, Walden said, “I got off the phone with the (Landers Theatre) box office just 30 minutes ago. And they indicated they'd spoken with the (Springfield-Greene County Health Department) and got the green light to go ahead and open up the capacity—

as long as people are still masked and using hand sanitizers and things like that.” But for those who can’t, or would rather not, attend in person, Springfield Ballet will offer an online streaming option. Streaming passes will be available through the Landers box office, and purchasers will receive an email link to access the performance they’re purchased.

For home viewers, “Cinderella” will be shot with two video cameras. Tickets for either live attendance or streaming range from $18 to $54.  And that brought up the question of finances: how has Springfield Ballet fared during the past year?

Ashley Walden said they did well during this year’s Giving Tuesday. But overall financially, the Ballet “has taken a large hit just with the inability to have full class sizes and everyone being masked in the classrooms. Some people aren't quite comfortable with that yet. So our enrollment has been down a little bit because of that.” Needless to say, revenue from productions has taken a large hit, not only due to audience capacity issues but because of “limitations on the cast size. In our outreach programming, we've still been able to do that at a couple of the Springfield public schools .But the reach has been drastically downsized. So yes, we have definitely been hurt financially this year. But we have such passionate and dedicated people that we are getting through it, and we are going to be better than ever once we get to the light.”

Maria Hall said she has fielded numerous questions from students and their parents about audience capacity for “Cinderella,” and Ballet personnel are “very excited” to let them know that this production will have increased live-audience capacity. “Yes, parents (have been) asking—they haven’t gotten tickets yet. That'll be a great thing to let everybody now.”

Performances are scheduled for 7:30pm Friday April 16; two shows on Saturday the 17th, at 11:00am and 4:00pm; and a 2:00pm matinee Sunday April 18.  Again, both in-person seating and online streaming options are available.  Tickets for either option range from $18 to $54, and are available from the Landers Theatre box office, (417) 869-1334 or online at www.landerstheatre.org. For information on Springfield Ballet and this “Cinderella” production, call the Ballet offices at (417) 862-1343, or visit www.springfieldballet.org.

Springfield Ballet Executive Director Ashley Walden added, “we're just thrilled to be able to offer in-person live performances, and hope that will continue with all the other arts organizations and allow the community to get out and enjoy themselves.”