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Ballet Guild of Lehigh Valley-Pennsylvania Youth Ballet ‘Cinderella’ at Zoellner

Pennsylvania Youth Ballet-Ballet Guild of the Lehigh Valley (BGLV) presents its spring performance, “Cinderella,” May 27 and 28, Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University.

With a cast of nearly 100, this is the first time in seven years that BGLV is performing the beloved fairy tale, set to the music of Sergei Prokofiev.

Ballet Guild of the Lehigh Valley Artistic Director and Choreographer Karen Kroninger Knerr says that the ballet version of “Cinderella” premiered in 1945.

The folk tale of the archetypal servant girl dates back 2,000 years in many variations. The earliest-known version was recounted by Greek philosopher, Strabo,?between 7 B.C. and 23 A.D., about a Greek slave who married the king of Egypt.

Later adaptations include Charles Perrault’s in 1697 (“The Little Glass Slipper”), the Grimm Brothers’ version in 1812, Walt Disney’s animated feature film in 1950 and the Broadway musical in 2013.

There is a comedic aspect to the Cinderella ballet, says Knerr, “especially between the stepsisters and stepmother.

“Traditionally, the evil stepmother is played by a male, and we are following that tradition. Kristopher Yoder plays our stepmother.”

Cinderella’s stepsisters will be played by Lauren Kunkle (11th grader, Nazareth Area High School) and Finola Hieter (10th grader, Southern Lehigh High School).

“They each developed their own character and their own personality, and that comes across in the acting and the dancing on the stage,” Knerr says.

The role of Cinderella will be played by Brianna Dougherty (11th grader, Southern Lehigh High School).

The Fairy Godmother will be played by Ella Ebert (Senior, Liberty High School).

The production will be accompanied by the score of Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev, whose works include “Romeo and Juliet” and “Peter and the Wolf.”

“The Prokofiev score is just beautiful,” says Knerr. “The music helps carry the storyline.

“It’s a wonderful, family-friendly ballet. Our youngest dancer is six-years-old [and continue] through our pre-professional dancers.

“The guest artist, who will partner with [Dougherty] to play the role of the Prince, is Juan Montobbio Maestre, originally from Barcelona. He is apprenticed at the Philadelphia Ballet. We’re really looking forward to our dancers having an opportunity to dance with him and having him join our production.”

Cinderella and the Prince will perform a pas de deux for the conclusion of the ballroom scene.

“It’s a large scene. There are a lot of dancers,” says Knerr. “The Prince gives out oranges. In that time period, that was a delicacy. Then there is an ‘Orange Dance’ that the stepsisters and stepmother dance, after one stepsister doesn’t get an orange and has a fit. It’s part of that comedic element.”

The production boasts remarkable costumes, sets and props, including an elaborate, life-size coach. Cinderella’s animal friends, the white mice, help her meet her Fairy Godmother and prepare for the ball.

Cinderella’s transformation from ragged servant’s clothes to an exquisite ball gown is accomplished through the magic of the stage. It is sure to amaze the audience.

Immediately following the ballet, there will be a special event.

“After the performance, we have a wonderful free event called ‘Cinderella’s Ball,’” says Knerr. “Any audience member can join us. They have the opportunity to take photos onstage with Cinderella and the Prince in the coach and to meet the rest of the cast.”

Juan Montobbio Maestre began his ballet training in Barcelona before attending the Corella Academy from 2014-21 under the direction of Carmen Corella, formerly of the Philadelphia Ballet, and Dayron Vera.

In 2018, Maestre received a scholarship for the Summer Intensive at the Vagánova Ballet Academy, and in 2019 received a scholarship for the Summer Intensive at the Dutch National Ballet Academy.

Maestre joined Philadelphia Ballet II for its 2021-22 season, where he performed as the Prince in “Snow White.” In 2022, Maestre was named Apprentice at Philadelphia Ballet where he performed in George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” and “Stars and Stripes”; Angel Corella’s “Swan Lake,” and Andrew Winghart’s “Prima Materia.”

Kristopher Yoder has played Herr Drosselmeyer in the BGLV production of “The Nutcracker” for several years, as well as Mr. Darling in “Peter Pan.”

“This is such a classic story that everybody knows,” says Knerr. “It’s a ballet that the youngest audience member, to the oldest, will enjoy.”

“Cinderella,” 2 p.m. May 27, 28, Baker Hall, Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University, 420 E. Packer Avenue, Bethlehem. Tickets: Zoellner box office; https://zoellner2021.cas.lehigh.edu ; https://www.bglv.org/w

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY HUB WILLSON “Cinderella,” Pennsylvania Youth Ballet-Ballet Guild of the Lehigh Valley, May 27, 28, Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University.
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY HUB WILLSON The shoe must go on: The glass slipper scene, “Cinderella,” Pennsylvania Youth Ballet-Ballet Guild of the Lehigh Valley, May 27, 28, Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University.
Juan Montobbio Maestre
Karen Kroninger Knerr