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A Cinderella Story, Humboldt-style 

click to enlarge Shira Lanyi and Phillip Skaggs as Cinderella and The Prince in A Humboldt Cinderella - PHOTO BY BOB DORAN
  • photo by Bob Doran
  • Shira Lanyi and Phillip Skaggs as Cinderella and The Prince in A Humboldt Cinderella

Victor Temple, artistic director of Arcata's New World Ballet, is almost beside himself with excitement about his company's new production, and it's infectious. I caught it when I ran into him handing out flyers at the Farmers' Market. As we strolled from the Plaza to the NWB studio in the Old Creamery, he continued buttonholing passersby. "Check it out man -- it's not your typical ballet," he told a pair of young dudes (who did not seem part of the typical ballet audience) pressing a handbill on them.

"It's my second full-length ballet, A Humboldt Cinderella," said Victor as we walked. "What I'm doing is taking the same Cinderella story but applying the lives and characters of Humboldt County -- the lifestyles, the way of dress, all that... put to ballet.

"It's set in modern times in Humboldt, [where] the King of Humboldt County, the ruler of the land, is trying to get rid of his slacker son. He's tired of him sitting around the house all day playing PlayStation, drinking and smoking those funny cigarettes, so he's going to have a ball... to get him married."

Among the prospects are Cinderella and her sisters, who in this version are not so evil. "Cinderella isn't this abused girl in my story," said Victor. "She's just a simple, nice person. Her sisters, one is narcissistic, the other is money hungry." (Another twist here is that both sisters are danced by men.)

You know the rest of the fairytale, although, as noted, it's been modified and updated. For example, instead of glass slippers, Cinderella wears Uggs. "It has tie-dye, everything Humboldt," said Victor, grinning. "There's a bit of corn." Of course it winds up with everyone living happily ever after.

Along with the corn there's some exquisite dancing, at least judging from last Saturday's rehearsal. "I'm also bringing back the founder of New World Ballet, Nadine Cole," said Victor as we headed toward the Creamery. "She'll be choreographing the grand pas de deux between Cinderella and the Prince and also a series of waltzes for the guest artists."

When we entered the studio, dancers young and old watched as Nadine refined the pas de deux with Shira Lanyi (Cinderella) and Phillip Skaggs (The Prince), who both perform with Richmond Ballet in Virginia. There was no fairy godmother in sight, but there was magic in the air as they worked things out, Nadine gracefully demonstrating the moves she wanted to see. The result was sheer beauty.

"All the guest artists are internationally known. Humboldt County is in for a very special treat," said Victor. "We have dancers from all over the U.S. from some of the top companies in the world. My friends Dante Adela and Samantha Beach Clark came to work with me as my ballet master and mistress and their daughter, Maya, is performing -- Maya is just amazing."

Of course all of the New World Ballet dancers are in the show, from the youngest -- four-year-olds -- to a dancer in his 60s. "They're from Arcata, Willow Creek, Hoopa, all over," said Victor. "The show provides them with a venue to be up-close and personal with super-star dancers they've seen on stage and TV. My mission has always been to provide quality dance education for those who want it. This is part of that."

Educational? Perhaps, but also a feast for those who love dance leavened with humor for the uninitiated. Don't miss this show.

New World Ballet presents A Humboldt Cinderella at HSU's Van Duzer Theatre on Saturday, June 19, at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Father's Day, at 2 p.m. ("Bring your dad!" says Victor.) Tickets are $12, $7 for children and seniors, and are available at Wildberries Marketplace and MorningStar Boutique in Arcata. For more on New World Ballet call 822-4947 or check To see YouTubeage of choreographer Nadine Cole in action, check out this event on the North Coast Journal Web site.

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About The Author

Bob Doran

Bob Doran

Freelance photographer and writer, Arts and Entertainment editor from 1997 to 2013.

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