Two weeks from today, Milwaukee Ballet will open its final production of the season, “Cinderella.” The season of classics comes to a close with a very traditional, classical ballet lead by Spanish dancer and Milwaukee Ballet leading artist, Luz San Miguel. This will be San Miguel’s second time playing Cinderella (her first time being in Milwaukee Ballet’s 2008 production), and this afternoon, she shared her experience portraying the iconic role of Cinderella, in anticipation of the upcoming production.
It’s hard to find someone who does not know the story of “Cinderella”. The classic fairytale is one that appeals to children and adults alike, whether it’s because of the rags-to-riches plot or because of the glass slippers. To San Miguel, the appeal of “Cinderella” is,
The fact that dreams come true. It’s an old, old fairytale and it’s all about if you work hard enough and stay true to yourself, your dreams will come true.
Some may know the story from the original Grimm fairy tales, while other, perhaps much younger, audiences may only know the animated Disney film. But no matter what your experience of “Cinderella,” this ballet is one that remains true to the classic tale. As San Miguel puts it,
It stays true to [the classic tale]. The ballet is a very classical ballet- there is tons of dancing, there is tons of humor with the stepsisters and everything, so it stays pretty true. I think it’s a beautiful production that everyone can enjoy.
Since the story is so familiar, it is ideal for children and ballet novices, along with ballet patrons. San Miguel expressed how children and ballet novices might appreciate this production saying,
For the first time at the ballet, this is a great one! This is a fairy tale that everybody knows so they’re very familiar with the story and it’s so entertaining for everybody- the beautiful costumes are amazing.. very magical. It’s a perfect first ballet for anybody.
“Cinderella” is a ballet that children can enjoy both from the audience and within the production. Milwaukee Ballet Artistic Director Michael Pink frequently recruits children and members of the Milwaukee Ballet School and Academy for his productions, and “Cinderella” is no exception. San Miguel shared her enthusiasm for working with the children saying,
Oh it’s so fun to work with the kids like when we do for ‘The Nutcracker’! It’s fantastic and they’re all so shy when they start dancing and it’s great to see them doing their little roles- it’s fantastic! It’s so cute. I love working with kids and seeing them in the studio and some of them are so nervous, but they’re all doing an amazing job and these little kids are learning this choreography. It’s a great experience for them as well.
Luz San Miguel has the added pleasure of, not only working with children in this highly popular classical ballet, but also portraying the title character. When asked about her experience playing Cinderella and any possible challenges in the transformation from rags to riches, San Miguel replied,
It’s a very fun role to play. There’s not such a big transformation; I think Cinderella was always a diamond in the rough all along. So she gets to wear these glamorous clothes, these glamorous point shoes which have a lot of glitter, and the choreography gets a lot quicker and more technical than when you’re in the kitchen cleaning floors- that’s a little more challenging. But when we first did it many years ago and even to this day when she transforms and I put myself in that beautiful gown and beautiful shoes, I always feel like a princess. It’s just great! It’s a really fun, challenging ballet.
The “beautiful shoes” are an iconic centerpiece of “Cinderella” and, while ballet dancers certainly cannot be expected to dance in actual glass slippers, San Miguel shared a bit about the improvised glass pointe shoes saying,
It’s fantastic! It’s a long process- it takes them almost a day to do one shoe. They have to do [the shoes] one by one with the shiny-like glass from the front, and they use a lot of sequins, which fall off sometimes! [laughs] The visual effect is great. It was many, many hours of work for lady who did the shoes.. many hours of work.
When a single costume piece such as a shoe takes an entire day, the rest of the production is likely to be just as elaborate and detailed. When asked what she hopes audiences leave feeling after watching Milwaukee Ballet’s production of “Cinderella,” San Miguel answered,
I hope they leave feeling magical and so mesmerized by the ballet that they come back and see many other productions! I know the little girls will love it and maybe the adults will hopefully keep fighting for dreams to come true.
“Cinderella” is the final production of the season, before the Company has a much deserved break over the summer. The upcoming season has been announced, and San Miguel gave a preview of what to expect of the 2015/2016 season saying,
We’ll start working for the following season in September, we will start with ‘Dracula’ again. This is the third time we will do it. You will love it! Everyone adores it, and it’s coming back right around Halloween time. We’re going to have ‘The Nutcracker’, as usual, our Christmas tradition. Then we will have ‘Dorian Gray’ which Michael [Pink] has created and he’s bringing it back here at The Pabst. And then we will have a triple deal at The Marcus Center [in ‘Kaleidoscope Eyes’] where the winner of ‘Genesis’ from this season will come and choreograph a new ballet and we are going to dance a ballet from Trey McIntyre, and Timothy O’Donnell, a dancer and resident choreographer of the company, will create a ballet- that’s the fantastic one. And we end the season with ‘Alice in Wonderland’, so another great family ballet.
Milwaukee Ballet’s “Cinderella” runs at The Marcus Center May 14-17. Tickets are available online or by calling 414-902-2103.