In the fall of 2012, Dance and Design Faculty at the University of Wyoming teamed up to boldly re-imagine the story of Cinderella in a brand new full length ballet. Choreographer, Jennifer Deckert, wanted to present the story of Cinderella with Cinderella as a strong protagonist who first wants to become part of an enticing, but appearance obsessed and cruel society, and then finds the courage to leave that society, inspiring the Prince to join her in pursuing genuine connection and consciousness.
Deckert’s concept demanded several distinct visual environments from Costume Designer, Lee Hodgson and Lighting Designer, Sharon Huizinga. The Scenic Design by Casey Kearns provided a backdrop of glass and metal, reminiscent of exploded notions of time.
In Act I we meet Cinderella in her house, where she feels trapped and longs to escape into what she imagines is the wonderful and exciting society outside. Huizinga approached Act I as a representation of Cinderella’s own feelings about her situation, lighting it as a stark and bleakly desaturated environment, with sharply delineated walls of light that prevented Cinderella’s escape. Costumes for Act I stayed towards silver and white, with only small hints of color, foreshadowing the feel of Act II.
In Act II the ballet moved to the Prince’s palace and the ball. The Design team wanted to make the ball a slick and enticing world obsessed with appearances and structure, with echoes of our own culture at its most excessive. Both Lighting and Costumes used a very saturated color pallet, with distinctive color choices for each of the guests at the ball, allowing power transfers between characters to occur visually. Huizinga also used linear patterns to support the notion of rigidity, and custom Roman numeral patterns to support the clock imagery. Cinderella first tries to fit into this world, but slowly begins to realize its limitations and shallowness, prompting her to shed her mask and pieces of her costume. The world of the ball responds by starting to disintegrate, which was supported by lighting shifting to chaotic patterns.
Cinderella ultimately leaves the entire society behind, inspiring the Price to follow her. They both appear at the end of Act II in simple clothing, lit with soft, organic patterns and colors, having discarded the norms of their previous world, and gained a deep understanding of themselves and each other.