Atlanta Ballet’s “Cinderella”
Through Feb. 14. $20-$120. Cobb Energy Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Pkwy. 800-982-2787, www.atlantaballet.com.
By Pierre Ruhe
Atlanta Ballet’s new production of “Cinderella” is playing now through Valentine’s Day, but don’t expect evenings of sentimental romance. In artistic director John McFall’s choreography, the social-climbing heroine isn’t the hapless, saved-by-the-prince lass of Charles Perrault’s fairy tale. Instead, she is a modern, independent young woman who, aided by a magical Godmother, gains strength through the power of love.
It’s danced to Sergei Prokofiev’s lyrical three-act ballet score — a classic of ironic, Stalin-era Russian music — with the ballet’s fine orchestra in the pit, conducted by Dan Alcott.
For the 43-year-old conductor, it’s a bittersweet show. Alcott became Atlanta Ballet music director in 2000, and except for the year-and-a-half when the orchestra was locked out during the ballet’s financial crisis, he says it’s been a satisfying decade. After “Cinderella,” he departs the company and the orchestra he has helped lead to sometimes dazzling heights. Starting next fall, he’ll be music director of the Oak Ridge Symphony and Chorus, a new post along with his regular guest conducting and a faculty position at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tenn., where he lives.
We recently caught up with Alcott to talk about “Cinderella” and his decade with the ballet.
Q: The ballet orchestra is made up of contracted freelance musicians but plays with a lot of unity. How hard is Prokofiev’s score?
A: It’s one of the hardest ballets scores we’ve ever performed. There are a lot of notes, and some incredibly high violin writing. The rhythms are tricky. We play many shows, but there’s never adequate rehearsal time, and I’m very happy the orchestra pulled through. There are so many cues [requiring perfect coordination between] dancers and musicians, and this orchestra is polished in accompanying dancers. It’s a culmination of what we’re capable of.
Q: Can you recall a favorite moment from your music director years?
A: I think it was in 2002. We did “Hamlet” to music by Philip Glass. The ballet was gorgeous, and the orchestra played flawlessly. It was one of the most striking things we’ve done together. Conducting the ballet is really what I love to do.
Q: Where should Atlanta Ballet be heading?
A: The collaborations have been most interesting. I wrote the charts for the Indigo Girls’ great “Shed Your Skin,” but all these collaborations take your pound of flesh. When we start on [a collaboration], I tell everyone, “I’m warning you, there will be a crash somewhere.” That’s the nature of joining different artistic entities. It’s an artistic risk, but the payoffs have been huge for the ballet.
Pierre Ruhe blogs about the arts on www.artscriticatl.com.