By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 28 March 2018)
Cinderella’s a charming fairy tale first staged as a three-act Ballet back in 1969 when Cooper Rust’s ballet teacher Ann Brodie choreographed Prokofiev’s magnificent music and young Cooper played a ‘Dragonfly’. Since then Ms. Brodie’s ballet has been performed often in America, but last weekend was the ballet’s debut in Kenya at the National Theatre.
Performed by Dance Centre of Kenya’s elite ‘Ballet Company’ who’ve been trained to perfection by Cooper, the ballet brought the audience to its feet on opening night.
With a cast filled with nearly all its dancers in their teens and some younger than that, Cinderella’s story was exquisitely told through dance. The drama of the little orphan girl oppressed by her wicked step-mother (Cooper Rust) and step-sisters (Stella Eising, Kayla Hotz) was heart-rending. It was made all the more poignant by Cooper’s dramatic choreography revealing emotions that ranged from the sisters’ envy and abusive insult to the madam’s mean-spirited cruelty to the agony of a child left without a loved one in her life.
It’s a beautiful story as the orphan’s set free to fulfill her dreams by a fairy god-mother and a charming prince who whisks her away to a ‘happily ever after’ life.
The beauty of all DCK’s ballets is that they retain an incredibly high standard of performance. Last weekend, that high bar of excellence was reached by both principle dancers Tara Brmbota, 15, as Cinderella and Lawrence Ogina, 22, as Prince Desire. But the Fairy God-mother (Lulu Heinel) as well as her angelic entourage were also amazingly adroit on their toes.
One also must acknowledge Naomi Wambui who created beautifully painted backdrops that added immensely to the charm and elegance of the Cinderella story.
One reason DCK has grown so rapidly since its inception in 2015 is the teaching talent and performing power of the Centre’s artistic director Cooper Rust. To see her perform as she did last weekend is always a joy and a privilege. Her company and all her students benefit by her example since she’s an artist as well as a pedagogue who practices (and performs) what she preaches. What could be better than that!
Next weekend, there will be at least three live performances to go see: Heartstrings’ Hit and Run at Alliance Francaise from April 5th, Back to Basics staging Strangers by Blood at PAWA 254 and Viper in my Nest at Kenya National Theatre annex.