Keeping Men on Their Toes in Houston Ballet's Cinderella

It's a classical ballet done in three acts with classical technique and professional dancers, but other than that, well, it's not your usual trip down memory lane.

It's Stanton Welch's Cinderella, now making its third appearance in Houston, courtesy of the Houston Ballet company.  Melody Mennite, principal dancer for the Houston Ballet, will be dancing the title role, one she's taken on before.

There’s no flowing locks – well, at least not on the title character. “She’s a little more rough and tumble” than the Disney version, according to Mennite. As evidenced when at one point Mennite will execute a double saut de basque, a leaping move more commonly part of a man's ballet steps. "I don't do it like a man, but it's fun to try new things," Mennite says.

And the stepmother and stepsisters Grizabella and Florinda will be played by men, dancing en pointe. “It’s fun to have guys doing point work,” Mennite says, calling their rehearsals “highly entertaining.”

Houston Ballet Artistic Director Welch, who created the choreography to Sergei Prokofiev’s beautiful music, takes a few unexpected turns with the storyline to those familiar with the classic version of girl meets Prince, loses shoe and wraps up with a happily-ever-after with the heir to the kingdom.

“I just really like the heart of the story and the character,” says Mennite. “It feels much more genuine to me. The dancing is really fun and high energy.”

Perfomances are scheduled for March 2-12 at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturdays, 1:30 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays at the Wortham Center, 501 Texas. For information call 713-227-2787 or visit houstonballet.org. $25-$195.

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