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Usually, girls take center stage in “Cinderella.” But equally essential to the success of the production are the male escorts, stepsisters played by men and, of course, the prince.
The guys in Allegro Dance Theatre’s production Sunday of “Cinderella” know part of their role is to make sure the female dancers shine.
“The guy is the frame and the girl is the picture,” Nathan Cooney said.
Amber Siscoe and Cara Caro are featured dancers in the production and take turns playing Cinderella. They understand how important men are in ballet.
Siscoe looks forward to the production each year and said the guys have added a different layer to the show.
The ball looks more “legit,” Caro said, now that couples dance in the scene. She likes partnering because she can turn more and can do lifts.
“We wouldn’t have ‘Cinderella’ without the prince, so he’s pretty important,” she added.
Some of the guys are participating for the first time. Friday night was their first practice and for some, it was the first time they heard their role in the play.
Most are guests at the ball.
Jim Ronkainen’s daughter got him involved.
Eric Corneilson is friends with one of the female dancers.
It’s also Dru Inman’s first year and he had no idea what he would be doing but was willing to do whatever was needed.
They all did know they had to dress in period coats and ties, but Ronkainen let them in on a secret that made their day.
“You get to carry swords,” he told them.
One joked their part became “ten times more awesome.”
Another said they should advertise, “We’ve got swords, so come and dance.”
The swords do have a purpose in the production. At one point in the ballet, they make an archway with the swords for dancers to walk through.
The dancers are the real stars, Ronkainen said.
“They know what they’re doing and we just follow along and try not to trip,” he said.
Cooney graduated from a party guest to a dancer who does more partnering. He became involved with encouragement from a friend and has stuck with it for several years. He now helps dancers with jumps and lifts.
“It’s a good workout,” he said. “It doesn’t sound that manly, but in actuality, it is.”
Two of the guys involved are comic relief.
Blake Ryan and Jacob Wagner have played the stepsisters for a few years.
“Any time we are on stage, we are there to take the audience’s attention away from the ballet,” Ryan said, adding he knows how hard the girls work and he only does a few simple dance steps.
The stepsisters’ role is to add a hint of comedy and make Cinderella’s life miserable, Wagner said.
With comic relief, there is pressure because a lot of their role is improvised.
“New things happen every time,” Ryan said.
The hardest part for Wagner is to stay out of the spotlight when it’s time for the dancers to shine because the sisters draw a lot of attention just being on stage.
After the show, even though they don’t make the prettiest of girls, Wager said many children are surprised to see the stepsisters are portrayed by men.
For some of the ballerinas, the stepsisters are their favorites.
“You look cute in your dress,” one of the ballerinas yelled as she walked past during rehearsal.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.