Cinderella is a ballet that many professional dancers encounter during their careers and most of the time on more than one occasion.
The fairy tale is so popular with audiences that it is no wonder that most companies make the decision to include it in their repertory at some stage.
My Cinderella experience with Milwaukee Ballet started back in 2008 at the Milwaukee Ballet Dancers' Benefit annual gala. Many of the dancers were helping clean up the studio and transforming it into a black box theatre for the show that evening, and somehow I managed to be on my knees and cleaning the floor with a bucket full of soapy water and some sponges. Mr. Pink happened to pass by and I made the joke that I had always aspired to dance the role of a stepsister in Cinderella. He immediately responded back with “Be careful what you wish for Darren…”. A few months later Cinderella was announced in the coming season, and this made me desire the role even more.
The ballet was a wonderful experience for me and I was fortunate to be cast in my desired role of a stepsister. I will admit in the beginning it was quite a sensitive and difficult task as it was my first time dancing the part of a female gender as well as a comical role. It took a little getting used to the fact that people were laughing at you because they were supposed to, as this was something I had not experienced before in a rehearsal process. But I certainly warmed up to the idea and started to realize that it was a good thing that they were laughing. :)
The role was extremely difficult as far as musicality and timing, as well as learning how far to take the comical aspect of the role without making it cheesy, so attention to details became particularly key in the development of the character. I really enjoyed the opportunity and will say it was probably the most fun role I have ever played. I always enjoy the traditional ballets myself, as when I was younger it was the classic fairy tales that always made me dream, which is what developed my passion for the art of ballet and set me forward on the path to becoming a professional danseur.
I also enjoy working with the younger dancers of Milwaukee Ballet School. Coming from Australia I do not get to spend much time with my nieces and nephews, so having the kids around in the productions and seeing their smiling faces makes me remember the dreams I had as a young dancer. And now to be a mentor as a member of the Company to those in the School, it is rewarding having them up on stage being involved.
I am extremely excited that I have once again been cast as Herr Drosselmeyer in The Nutcracker, so kids it’s time to head back into the fairy tale book and see what magic we can bring to the world.
Darren Christian McIntyre