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Brandon News

Brandon Ballet’s ‘Cinderella’ adds whimsy, innovation

BY Barbara Routen
Special Correspondent

Published:   |   Updated: March 25, 2014 at 03:03 PM

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BRANDON – Octavio Martin’s recipe for Brandon Ballet’s upcoming production of “Cinderella” combines whimsy, innovation and a hint of cuteness.

Professional, pre-professional and student dancers will perform in the one-night show, including Yaima Franco, Martin’s wife and the company’s ballet mistress, who will play the title role.

“I’m so excited about this version,” said Martin, Brandon Ballet’s artistic director and former principal dancer with the Cuban National Ballet. “It’s going to be so much fun.”

Although most ballet companies use Sergei Prokofiev’s dramatic rendition of “Cinderella,” said Martin, he choreographed this to the music of Johann Strauss.

Martin has danced to both composers’ scores. He said Strauss’s interpretation provides a wider range to create character dances, an important element of children’s dance instruction and well-suited to the caliber of preprofessional ballet dancers he has for this performance.

Often Cinderella’s stepsisters are performed by male ballet dancers in drag. Martin has changed things up. He cast female students as stepsisters, and he will don a dress, wig, earrings and makeup to play the stepmother.

“People are going to be laughing from the beginning, when I first step on the stage. It’s a very funny character,” he said.

Martin has been artistic director of Brandon Ballet for a year and a half and continues to dance, teach, choreograph and market the company. He started the competitive, audition-required Brandon Ballet Pre-professional Training Program for outstanding young dancers. He has produced about 16 performances, provided free educational ballet workshops for the community and continually seeks sponsors and funding sources.

Getting financial support is a frustratingly slow process, he said. So he improvises, recycling costumes from other shows and using dancers as props.

“Sometimes creation comes from necessity,” he said. “In this version, people aren’t going to see the pumpkin carriage of Cinderella.” They will see children dressed as bunnies, mice and birds helping the fairy godmothers create Cinderella’s gown, and then the children will assume the shape of the carriage that carries Cinderella to the ball.

The Brandon Ballet will perform “Cinderella” at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 26, in the auditorium at Spoto High School, 8538 Eagle Palm Drive, Riverview.

For “Cinderella” tickets, click here or call (855) 222-2849. They are $25 per adult, $20 per senior 55 and over and $15 per child 18 and under.

Brandon Ballet donates a portion of the proceeds from its spring performance to a local nonprofit. “Cinderella” will benefit the Children’s Board Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay, whose professional photos of children in the foster care system help recruit adoptive parents. Learn more by clicking here.

Dine to support Brandon Ballet. Through the end of August, La Cubanita Café, 3240 Lithia Pinecrest Road, Valrico, will donate a dollar per meal to Brandon Ballet when diners mention the dance company to their servers.

Send news of community interest to Barbara Routen at Neighbors@tampabay.rr.com.

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