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Madco takes a swing at the Cinderella story in a new ballet


Having disposed of syrupy Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker and dealt with the sweetness and light of Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream, the Mid America Dance Company (a.k.a. Madco) will settle the hash of Charles Perrault's goody-goody Cinderella this Friday and Saturday at the Grandel Theatre.

Somehow or other, Madco company member Todd Weeks has stumbled onto previously unknown information and used it to choreograph Cinderella: The Untold Story, which gives Cindy's hitherto misunderstood stepsisters a chance to tell their side of the story. Weeks utilizes a mix of dance styles -- musical theater, ballet and contemporary -- with elaborate sets handsomely lighted, sumptuous costumes and a cast of thousands (well, 16, actually, but it seems like more). The eight members of Madco, two pickup dancers and Lindenwood student apprentices and interns are going to set the story straight.

Madco's artistic director, Stacy West, couldn't be happier about the piece and its creator: "Todd was the first dancer Madco hired who never knew Ross (the late Ross Winter, Madco's co-founder, longtime artistic director and principal choreographer). He came from the ballet world, but I gave him a chance as a modern dancer. He gave me a chance as an artistic director, and he's been such a blessing for the company."

Weeks has made other dances for Madco, but Cinderella, which he's been thinking about for several years, is his biggest by far, with plenty of opportunity for Madco's comic side to shine through. The casting, for instance, is nontraditional. You'll notice that the stepsisters, for instance, are big-boned girls, and kind of mannish as well. Then there's the fairy godmother....

So prepare yourselves for surprises, reversals, magic and, naturally, a big ball scene. Madco, the region's oldest modern-dance company, has been dancing awfully well for a long time now -- really together, disciplined and polished. They're promising to deliver some classy silliness, and if it's like Madcracker or Madsummer's Night Dream, Cinderella will provide a corrective slug of straight lemon juice to cut through the sugariness of other holiday shows.

Cinderella: The Untold Story is performed at 8 p.m. Dec. 10 and 11 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. For tickets, call 534-1111.

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