In The Studio: David Sanders talks Ozark Ballet Theater’s ‘Cinderella’

In The Studio: David Sanders talks Ozark Ballet Theater’s ‘Cinderella’

When you’re putting on a ballet, life is your dance partner.

While preparing for their biggest production to date, David Sanders and Katie Stasse of Ozark Ballet Theater raised money to purchase a collection of Soviet-era costumes from the Kyiv National Ballet while also sewing costumes for their students at their dance studio in Bentonville. At the same time they were also searching for a professional to dance the lead in their production of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Cinderella,” based on the choreography of Vadim Fedotov.

Just a week after Sanders joined us for an interview, their Prince Charming was called away on a family emergency. And that left the couple who run the ballet school together to find not only Cinderella but her Prince Charming, too!

Since our podcast, the role of Prince Charming has gone to Maikel Hernandez, who has danced with the National Ballet of Cuba on stages in Spain, Italy, Australia, China, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Guyana, Martinique, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and the United States. Emily Bromberg, a professional ballerina from Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami, will perform as Cinderella. She spent 11 years with Miami City Ballet as a principal soloist and has performed with the Slovak National Theatre, served as ballet mistress for Ballet de Barcelona in Spain and has taught at ballet schools around the world.

During our podcast, Sanders says that students at Ozark Ballet Theater will have a chance to train with the guest artists at their studio in Bentonville as they prepare for Cinderella, on stage April 26 and April 27 at Bentonville West Performing Arts Center.

Listen to a podcast of this interview to learn more about Ozark Ballet Theater or check out our previous feature on Ozark Ballet Theater.

Q. Tell me about your upcoming production of Cinderella. What can the audience expect to see on stage?

A. This ballet was originally presented in the Soviet Union in 1945. Sergei Prokofiev wrote half of it in a bomb shelter, and that creative spirit in the face of just an absolute worldwide mess created this ballet. … It’s a comedy ballet. It’s just what the world needed then, and it launched the careers of some of the most famous ballerinas of all time.

Our version is an adaptation of that made by Vadim Fedotov who’s from Kiev. And I had never seen it. My wife had performed it a dozen times. She was talking about doing Cinderella … Finally she showed me a video, and I’ll tell you what, I was laughing hysterically. Like edge to edge. It is a lot of physical comedy. Of course there’s gorgeous sections with Cinderella with the Prince — and we’re bringing in quite a few professional dancers to fill those roles. It’s our largest production ever. It’s a two hour show in three acts, and it’s just going to be magic. We were really excited to start ramping it up.

Q. [Comedy] is not the first thing that comes to my mind with ballet even though there might be funny parts in the ballet.

A. … I would say about half of the ballets in the classical repertoires are choreographed as comedies. To me physical comedy is just the basis of humor, and getting an audience to laugh without ever saying anything to them is such a challenge … I came from a musical theater background as a teenager before I started dancing, and the most gratifying laughs you’ll get are the ones where you never had to say anything; you just got to show them, and it was funny.

Q. Tell me about your dancers, your local dancers who will be in this production. How large is the cast?

A. We have 68 local dancers in the cast at last count. Those will be our students … not including my wife. They are between 3 and 17 years old. We’ve got more dancers than ever [whom] we’ll be presenting on pointe. We have a really great core of advanced dancers who have come a really long way as physical actors as well as dancers just during the production of this show. We are in the studio just laughing every single day. It’s fantastic.



Ozark Ballet Theater:


WHEN — 7 p.m. April 26 & 2 p.m. April 27

WHERE — Bentonville West Performing Arts Center in Centerton

COST — $26-$35


Categories: Theater