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Peoria Ballet offers 'Cinderella'

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Servy Gallardo knows his audience; he’s aware a title like “Cinderella” would be considered family friendly. That’s why he chose it for the Peoria Ballet’s spring show this weekend at Five Points Washington.

Gallardo, the ballet’s artistic director, also knows the audience will include small children, perhaps even some who would be future dancers in his company.

Therefore, wanting nothing to get in the way of their enjoyment of the show, Gallardo made some changes to the story while maintaining the key elements that makes it “Cinderella,” he said just before Wednesday’s dress rehearsal.

“There are some parts in the story that might scare little children,” he said, referring mostly to the way Cinderella is treated by her stepmother and step-sisters in the original story. While Cinderella is still made to be the maid in her own home while the step-sisters get favored treatment, Gallardo said he put humor in place of meanness.

While this version of “Cinderella” may not be what most adults grew up with, he acknowledged, “The basic story is still the same. It is still Cinderella. It still has the same characters, the wonderful carriage, the Fairy Godmother. But it is more family friendly and, since there will be kids in the audience and we know how short the attention span is these days, it is shorter at under two hours.”

Aside from one guest artist, the cast of 45 is made up strictly of students from the Peoria Ballet Academy directed by Tamra Challancombe. The guest artist, a Des Moines Ballet dancer named Jose Gamero, who will portray the prince. He is the only male in the show, Gallardo said.

Peoria Ballet student Allexe Slevin will portray Cinderella.

In Gallardo’s version of “Cinderella,” the stepmother is a former ballerina who comes across a photo album from her days as a dancer. She then decides she wants her daughters to become dancers. Therein lies some of the humor Gallardo instilled in the show, using dance steps to bring out that humor.

“It has been fun,” he said. “There is a lot of humor in Act One in particular. We had the costume mistress come in with a bunch of different material and we let the students pick the material for their costumes for the ball. You can guess there will be a lot of inappropriate looking ball costumes, but it is very funny. The kids enjoy it.”

Gallardo said he choreographed the ballet in five or six weeks and was pleased with the support he received during the process, not only from the student dancers but from the parents and other volunteers. He praised the parents and volunteers, saying shows such as this and the ballet’s annual performance of “The Nutcracker” could not be done without them.

“The people of Peoria should be very proud of this ballet company. Keeping the art going is very important and it’s done by volunteers who love it. We couldn’t do it without them. That’s why we need people to come see the show and support the ballet,” he said.

There will be three performances in the Caterpillar Performance Center at Five Points: Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students. They can be purchased online at www.peoriaballet.com or ordered by calling (309) 690-7990. 

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).