"Can you twirl like us? We didn't think so."

“Can you twirl like us? We didn’t think so.”

Here at Bwog, we’re always looking to immerse ourselves in the buzzing display of on-campus culture, whether that be news, theatre, or dance. This is how we ended up spending our Thursday night at the Columbia University Ballet Ensemble’s rendition of Cinderella, running for one night only in the Roone Alredge Auditorium.

I’m notorious for falling asleep during performances. The mixture of cool air, a dark room, and classical music really lulls me to sleep – it’s a curse that strikes me whenever I go to a ballet or symphony. But something about CUBE’s Cinderella kept me awake.

We all know the story – orphaned girl is left living with her abusive stepmother and stepsisters, but manages to maintain a kind heart until her fairy godmother comes to grant her one true wish of attending the Prince’s ball, where Cinderella and the Price fall madly in love. And then of course the Price runs wildly around the kingdom trying her glass slipper on every maiden in the land in the off-chance of finding Cinderella. Apparently no one else wears a 7.5.

After a few introductory notes (i.e., “This is CUBE’s highest attendance for a performance ever!”), the lights dimmed and our fairytale began. The show opened with a quarrel between Cinderella’s evil stepsisters, setting a lively tone for the audience. Cinderella – Sophia Salingaros – was fantastic at conveying emotion through her dancing as she spun through chores and dealt with her stepmother’s harshness.

Not long into the show, we meet the fairy godmother. This is where things get a little confusing. After Cinderella has really only had a small window to showcase her dancing talent, the fairy godmother dominates the stage for a (very solid) solo performance. This was great, of course, but I wasn’t the only one who got a little lost on the plot. The godmother’s solo is followed by dances by fairies from each of the four seasons, apparently helping her transform Cinderella into a ballroom-ready princess-to-be.

Sure, everyone should get a chance to really showcase their talent, but this section took up the majority of the show. The dances were beautiful, but the plotline remained muted. And it’s highly possible that this is how a ballet should be, and I really should have stayed awake for all those performances of Swan Lake I went to as a kid. But Cinderella herself was absent throughout these scenes, her transformation occurring entirely offstage, and that just felt a little strange.

On top of this, the show had several rookie mistakes; one girl fell down (which wasn’t a big deal– she got right back up), and the music cut off several times, leaving the dancers to dance sans music. The skippy music was distracting, leaving audience members oftentimes looking around to see if something was going wrong.

Other than these relatively minor issues, Cinderella was indeed a good show; the dancers were fantastic for the most part, the costumes very well done, and the classic story never fails to make me nostalgic for those childhood “I wanna be a princess when I grow up” days. CUBE’s beautiful ballet really does outshine their technical malfunctions, and it’s worthwhile to culture yourself with a little ballet on a Thursday night.

Photo by Mia Lindheimer