Pacific Northwest Ballet kicks off its 40th anniversary season with Kent Stowell’s “Cinderella.”
This delightfully charming production with its strong dancing and visually stunning costumes and set design dazzles the senses.
It’s family-friendly entertainment at its best and for a select group of talented young dancers, it’s an opportunity to share the stage with professionals at the top of their game.
Among the children appearing in “Cinderella” are two local Woodinville girls, Riley Hoopes and Rose Hayden.
Riley, a fifth grader at East Ridge Elementary, began dancing when she was three.
She currently takes classes at both Woodinville Dance Academy in Woodinville and at PNB’s Bellevue school, where she is in Level 3 of the program.
“I love to dance and to move to the beat of the music,” says Riley. “It makes me feel good to dance. And I like being on stage, especially dancing with the professionals. My favorite PNB dancer is Maria Chapman. She is so good!”
Last year, Riley appeared in PNB’s “Nutcracker,” so she is not a stranger to the big stage. She gets excited, not nervous, before performances. “I tell myself to just pretend that I’m in practice and that makes the nervousness go away,” she adds.
In “Cinderella,” the young girl will perform the role of Memory Child within a flashback scene that Cinderella has of playing in the fields as a child.
She has been rehearsing almost every day for the past month to prepare for the four performances she will be in out of a total of eight shows. Riley wants to continue dancing in the hopes that one day she can become a professional ballerina.
“It’s my dream,” she says. “But, I know it won’t be easy.”
The most challenging aspect of this art form for the youngster is the sheer amount of things she must be aware of when she’s dancing. “For example, you have to make sure you’re pointing your toe and holding your arm a certain way,” she explains. “There are so many things going on at the same time and you have to think about all of them.”
When Riley isn’t dancing, she can often be found running a race, either with her school’s cross-country team or with family members for a 5K event.
Bear Creek sixth grader Rose Hayden started dancing when she was five.
She took a class and remembers dancing a duet with her father. She was hooked from the beginning and soon became a PNB student.
Now, she is in Level 4 of the program. “Dance allows me to really work on my expression and strength,” comments Rose. “It’s so pleasant for me to move around and it makes me feel very free.” She adds, “I also like the challenge of doing complicated steps and seeing how I improve.”
This is the local girl’s second time performing in PNB’s “Cinderella.” She has also been in the company’s production of “Nutcracker” three years running. This time around, she will perform the role Good Fairy Attendant in “Cinderella.”
Though she has been on the big stage several times, Rose admits that she still gets a bit nervous before making her entrance.
She worries that she will forget the steps. “But then once I enter, I focus on the dance and I’m not nervous anymore,” she says. “And there’s instant memory with the steps.”
Rose enjoys dancing with her friends and she is always thrilled to be sharing the stage with professionals. Her favorite PNB dancers are Carla Körbes and Seth Orza. Like Riley, Rose also wants to be a professional ballerina and plans to continue her dance training in the years to come. Balancing life, though, gets tricky.
“It’s challenging because I have to commit to school and to ballet, so I am very busy,” she says. “I don’t have much free time. But, this is what I want to do and I need to work hard.”
PNB’s “Cinderella” runs from September 21 – 30 at MaCaw Hall in Seattle.
For ticket information: (206) 441-2424 or www.pnb.org