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Malcolm Burn creates his own "Cinderella" story for Richmond Ballet. 

Happily Ever After

Dalcolm Burn, ballet master and artistic associate for Richmond Ballet, always wanted to turn the story of "Cinderella" into his own ballet. He has performed in four different ballet versions of the classic story during his career as a dancer, and Richmond Ballet's upcoming performance of "Cinderella" marks his turn to stage the tale. Burn's ballet of this well-loved fairy tale about a young woman forced to serve her uncaring sisters and stepmother premieres Oct. 6-8 at the Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts.

To prepare, Burn read not only Charles Perrault's familiar version of the story with its glass slipper, pumpkin and fairy godmother, but many variations — there are as many as 1,000 — from countries such as China, Korea, Russian and Italy. The differences are considerable. For instance, the Chinese rendition portrays the handsome prince as a warlord, and in Korea he is a magistrate. From Egypt, Africa and elsewhere, the glass slippers disappear entirely, replaced by sandals, golden shoes, even fish bones. Common to all versions, however, is the solitary woman who magically triumphs over oppression and achieves happiness.

Burn has incorporated bits from the many versions, but is basing his three-act dance primarily on the 1697 telling by Perrault. He's also selected Prokofiev's score which he describes as "beautiful," "complex," and "stunning."

"When the musical score is as compelling as Prokofiev's 'Cinderella,' a choreographer would be a fool to ignore its influence," he says.

"Cinderella," explains Burn," is such a timeless tale, with fabulous, rich characters and a beautiful love story." He firmly believes the story's relevance to the present will be apparent to all who come. "Those who see the ballet should relate in a very personal way to what is happening onstage," he says. "Each moment should evoke an association, whether it be the joy of finding your true love, the sorrow that comes with losing a parent, the anguish that you feel when you are subjected to persecution, or the belief in a happily ever after. The challenge for me as a choreographer was in finding these moments and presenting them so that they speak to each person in the audience."

Anastasia Babayeva and Anne Sidney Davenport will play the role of Cinderella. The prince is Denis Gronostayskiy and Kevin Bowles. Additionally, 28 children from the School of Richmond Ballet will also perform. An entrancing story that has worked its charms on Burn, he intends the magic to be felt by all. "The ballet is enchanting, and I think it will be great fun for both our company and our audience," he says.

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