Click here for a Pointe Magazine article on OWDF’s Cinderella.

This performance was our premier production of one of the most endearing ballet classics: Cinderella. On the 125th anniversary of the birth of Sergei Prokofiev, the composer to the Cinderella score, we offered over 200 ballet professionals, enthusiasts and students to unite and collaborate on this unique production. We wanted to leverage the performance as a means to introduce the world and culture of ballet to children and adults in all walks of life, including many underprivileged children and youth who otherwise may not have the opportunity to be exposed to this precious art form.


“The story of Cinderella captures our hopes for the orphan children and youth we work with: that through grace, hard work, and inspiration, beautiful things can happen.”

-Ekaterina Shchelkanova, OWDF Founder
Having grown up with the magical history, exceptional productions, and outstanding prestige of the Mariinsky Theatre as our home, we had a strong passion to share the beauty and magic of ballet to all through our production of Cinderella.

Joining us in this mission included Misty Copeland, Principal Dancer of American Ballet Theatre, starring as the main role of Cinderella. Ms. Copeland, who often advocates for youth organizations like The Boys & Girls Clubs of America and MindLeaps, was drawn by Open World Dance Foundation’s efforts to educate local children and youth while celebrating the traditions of classical ballet.

Soon after Ms. Copeland joined our Cinderella mission, we were able to invite another star of the show: Calvin Royal III, as the Prince in our production, who was drawn by the same vision and goal we shared with Ms. Copeland. Recalling that his first experience with dance, in a similar community project called The Chocolate Nutcracker, “opened my eyes to possibilities of wanting to be a professional dancer,” Mr. Royal said: “Knowing what that did for me made me want to get involved.” (Pointe Magazine)


“This was a chance for a community, some experienced with dance and others not, to expand and explore their minds, bodies, creativity and possibly tap into something within themselves they didn’t know was possible.”

-Misty Copeland, as quoted in Pointe Magazine

Over the summer, Founders Ms. Shchelkanova and Mr. Boytsov worked with Misty Copeland and Calvin Royal as we finalized choreography and began rehearsals. Students at our 2016 Summer Intensive rehearsed and danced alongside them. From this group of Summer Intensive students, came our advanced dancers who traveled with us to Houston for the fall. These beautiful young people trained with us and danced the soloist roles in the premier.

OWDF Elite Training Student Katia performing in Cinderella.

Our Houston premiere was a wonderful success that brought together underprivileged children, professionals, and students alike in a common love for ballet, and the magic it brings into people’s lives. We thank you again to all who made this possible, especially our teachers and mentors who inspired us to dream and to work hard to achieve our dreams.

Interesting facts about the creation of our Cinderella:
This production was heavily influenced and inspired by orphans of St. Petersburg, Russia. Throughout orphanages of St. Petersburg, we held a contest for the best illustration of the original Cinderella fairytale by Charles Perrault. After looking through hundreds of creations, eleven-year-old Anna Osipenkova’s drawing of Cinderella’s house dress was chosen as the basis for the costume worn by Ms. Copeland on stage, and young, talented Vasilisa Marova’s drawings of the castle, ballroom and home living room inspired our vision for the ballet and came to life in the backdrops and scenery of our show.