Young dancers create magic of ‘Cinderella’ - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Young dancers create magic of ‘Cinderella’

April 26th, 2018 development
Young dancers create magic of ‘Cinderella’

By Colleen Sparks, Staff


Dancers will bring to life a magical and classic tale of glass slippers and dreams come true in a ballet at Chandler Center for the Arts next week.

Ballet Etudes will perform “Cinderella,” with the help of 59 dancers ages 9 to 16 and guest artist Fan Shi, an adult professional dancer who used to be with Ballet Arizona and who will play the Prince.

“Cinderella’s interesting because there are so many variations out there in regards to the storyline,” said Kellan Meko, resident choreographer and marketing manager for Ballet Etudes. “We do hold pretty closely to the animated version.

“She’s (Cinderella) sweet and kindhearted. She does have an evil stepmother; awkward and mean stepsisters. There are the ballet aspects; in the magic scene when the Fairy Godmother first appears she is joined by four dancers… spring, summer, autumn and winter and (they) bring gifts to Cinderella.”

Purists, beware, however.

“We don’t show the pumpkin; we do have a beautiful coach, mice, dancers as horses,” Meko added.

Many dancers who live in Chandler and other parts of the East Valley will perform.

Alexandra Heath, 14, of Gilbert, will play “Cinderella.” Over the past two summers, Heath has participated in the renowned School of American Ballet’s summer intensive in New York City.

Bridget Morgan, 16, of Mesa will take on the role of the Fairy Godmother while Rebecca Bigler, 16, of Gilbert, and Maddie Dennison, 16, also of Gilbert, will dance the parts of the stepsisters.

Faith Banner and Zoe Hunter, two Mesa 15-year-olds, will be joined by Chandler dancers Elise Phimmasome, 12, and Karly Willis, 11, in the Queen’s Court.

Other Chandler performers include Nina Petrone, 12, playing Toujours Relie, part of the Fairy Godmother’s magical realm; and Chloe Boyd, 11, playing Bug and a dancer in the King’s Court.

Meko said the Fairy Godmother is a “very demanding role.”

“She must be able to act and allow the audience to see the love and compassion she has,” she said. “She’s on stage for a long time. She has to have the stamina.”

Other big roles are the four seasons and the two stepsisters. The stepsisters are “awkward and mean” with the older one being “meaner” and the younger one being “dumber,” Meko said.

“When they (stepsisters) dance, we want to make the audience laugh,” she said. “They’ll be dancing with the worst technique.”

This will be Ballet Etudes’ sixth time performing Cinderella and Meko made some changes in choreography for this year’s production, including taking some characters out of the story.

“We want to ensure our audiences, who are mainly families, kept entertained,” she said. “We do keep our audiences and families in mind.”

Audiences will see “sparkly and absolutely exquisite” costumes when the Fairy Godmother and the four seasons dance and a fiber optic drop with sparkling lights, among other gorgeous scenery on stage, Meko said.

“It looks magical,” she said. “The carriage is just beautiful. We have some beautiful visual elements and costumes.”

Ballet Etudes, 2401 E. Baseline Road, Gilbert, is a pre-professional youth ballet company and all of its members automatically were allowed to perform in “Cinderella.”

However, auditions were held to decide which company dancers would play the Fairy Godmother, Cinderella and other big roles.

Sharon Seder Meko, who is Kellan Meko’s mother, created Ballet Etudes in 1986 to meet the artistic needs of serious young dancers who wanted to perform at the highest level.

A panel of judges chooses company members through open auditions every August. If selected, the dancers work to achieve the same high artistic standards a professional company reaches in their rehearsals, dance training and performances.

BE School of Dance, also at 2401 E. Baseline Road in Gilbert, is the home of Ballet Etudes and where the Ballet Etudes company members study and rehearsals are held.

Ballet Etudes will perform “Cinderella” at 2 and 7 p.m. on April 28 and at 3 p.m. on April 29 at Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Ave. Tickets: