Cinderella’s Ball in the Heart of Orinda

(Jeff Heyman, Photographer)
“Dreams Come True” at Artistic Director Patricia Tomlinson’s Cinderella’s Ball in the Orinda Library Auditorium. Dancers from Tomlinson’s Orinda Ballet Academy performing in the ballet include: (Front “V" row) Joanna Yu, Arya Samanta, Elise Nguyen, Ella Pierce, Emma Silberschmidt, Chloe Sabo-Nichols, Ava Allaire, Renee Silberschmidt, Phoebe Higgins, Maya Elkind, Sadie Elkind and Emily Charo. (Back “V" Row) Frances Giquinto, Amy Dai, Gemma Leach, Bailey Brothers and Phoebe Schultz.

    Where else, but the Orinda Library Auditorium, can you experience a ballet production of Cinderella with Prokofiev’s rich and melodious score?
    Patricia Tomlinson, artistic director, adapted Cinderella’s Ball and Contemporary Dances (Cinderella) for a 45-member cast of ballet dancers from ages 3.5 to 18. Performances are May 20 at 6:30 p.m., May 21 at 4 p.m. and May 22 at 2 p.m. at the Orinda Library Auditorium, 26 Orinda Way.
    Tomlinson, who was coached by George Balanchine, danced around the world with Natalia Makarova. She also guest performed and taught ballet all over the U.S. before founding Orinda Ballet Academy (OBA).
    While the majority of the music in this story ballet is taken from Prokofiev’s score, she has included a few pieces from his Romeo and Juliet.
    “Story ballets are more fun for the dancers because they are more than a dance on the stage with a quick exit. Performers must learn how to act and express the story with clear actions, or in ballet ‘miming,’ so that the audience can understand the story line,” said Tomlinson. “They have to learn how to work their props, similar to a choreographed dance. Their training includes working as team members and supporting dancers of different ages and abilities. This training will help them in whatever they choose to do in their 
    Cinderella is one of the most universally loved fairy tales. Worldwide there are 1,500 versions – one of the earliest versions dates from 9th Century China, entitled Yu Yang Ts Tsu. Generations of youngsters have had Charles Perrault’s 1697 version of the story read to them, sometimes over and over. It was published in English as part of the Tales of Mother Goose in 1729.
    Dancer Gemma Leach began at the OBA 10 years ago in Tomlinson’s original Cinderella production as the “Petite Princess.” Tomlinson is excited for Leach to dance the role of Cinderella now.
    “She has developed into a beautiful and strong ballerina; I am thrilled she will perform Cinderella,” said Tomlinson.
    Cinderella’s prince will be guest star Vincent Chavez, who has taught for the OBA in past years and performs in the Bay Area as well as teaching in various cities across the U.S.
    “We are fortunate to have him perform the role of the prince alongside the students,” Tomlinson added.
    Tomlinson is thrilled the audience will see the dancers without their masks: “I am excited about the return of Cinderella’s Ball after 10 years and super excited to remove our protective masks. The audience will now see the beautiful faces and expressions from the dancers and especially enjoy the silly, campy acting and dancing by the fun stepsisters. It has been too long!”
    Tickets ($23 – $25) can be purchased at Masks may be required upon entrance. For more information, email Tomlinson at

Elana O’Loskey can be reached at

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