BWW Review: Cleveland Ballet is Back with New Leadership and Attitude

Roy Berko (Member: Dance Critics Association)

The words, "Cleveland Ballet" to many locals means Dennis Nahat, Ian Horvath Karen Gabay, Raymond Rodriguez, impressive sets and costumes, a union with the Silicone Valley's San Jose. And, poof, in 2000...they were gone to the west coast, leaving a hole in the local arts offerings.

Many consider it a tale of deception, much like the Cleveland Browns exit to Baltimore.

Like the Browns, the Cleveland Ballet is coming back. Hopefully, they will be more successful in their return than their football brethren.

Under the artistic leadership of Puerto Rico-born Gladisa Guadalupe, a former member of the Nahat-led company, she hopes to develop a core group of dancers with high levels of talent. To accomplish this she has held auditions in Cleveland, New York, and other major cities. Her goal? "I want Cleveland Ballet to again join the list of jewels that make Cleveland a special place artistically."

The ballet board's CEO and Chair is Michael Krasnyansky, a global business developer. He believes that "We are on the cusp of history once again with the creation of the New Cleveland Ballet-a resident professional ballet company."

Working out of a dance space located in a strip of companies in Bedford Heights, the organization is looking at ballet in ways that make the classical dances and stories contemporary. They also want to commission world premiere ballets that Cleveland will have a chance to share with the world.

Currently, the company consists of ten professional contracted dancers, with the hope of increasing the corps to 14 members.

CB produced an evening of dance in October. Their second outing will be on May 13 and 14 when they produce COPPÉLIA at the newly refurbished Ohio Theatre in PlayhouseSquare.

With choreography by Ramón Oiler, the storytelling will depend more on dancing and lighting by Trad A. Burns than on massive sets and lush costumes. For this production recorded music will be used, but the future holds live music.

COPPÉLIA, which has been modernized by the choreographer, concerns Dr. Coppélius who has made a life-size dancing doll (Coppélia), so life-like that a village boy, Franz, becomes so infatuated with it that he pushes aside Swanhilda, his love. To retaliate and get Franz back, Swanhilda dresses like the doll, fooling both men into believing that it has come to life. Dr. Coppélius seeks to keep the living doll hidden from the world while Frantz tries to run away with his "new found" love.

The ballet company has a commitment to the Cleveland area. Lauren Stenroos (from Bath) will dance the role of Swanhilda, while Elena Cvetkovich (Youngstown) will perform as Coppélia. Other area dancers are: Therese Holland a Parma native and Padua grad, Madeline Taylor from Akron and graduated from Laurel, and Kathryn Wokar who graduated from Bay High School.

Some of the male company members, including Nicholas Monero, a Spaniard who will dance Franz, are from the Joffrey Ballet Concert Group in New York City, which has a collaboration with the Cleveland company.

Cynthia Graham, a former member of the original Cleveland Ballet, serves as Ballet Mistress.

The Cleveland Ballet's 2016-2017 draft schedule includes residences at Playhouse Square, Cleveland Music of Art, the Ohio Theatre, and the Cleveland Public Library, with additional venues for NUTCRACKER performances. The full schedule is forthcoming.

Tickets for the Friday, May 13 (7 p.m.) and Saturday, May 14 (1 p.m.) performances of COPPÉLIA, which will be performed at Ohio Theatre at PlayhouseSquare, may be obtained by calling 216-241-6000 or going on line to