Misty Copeland and OWDF are joining forces to bring “Cinderella” with American Ballet Theatre stars Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside to the historic Palace Theatre stage on March 15, 2024!

Inspiring individuals and uniting communities through the arts

MISTY COPELAND: Ballerina, Author, and Philanthropist and Open World Dance Foundation are thrilled to present Cinderella, a collaborative ballet performance that not only promises an evening of enchantment and romance, but also emphasizes the importance of children and community involvement. In a unique performance bringing together American Ballet Theatre stars Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside and talented youth from all over, Cinderella promises to be an unforgettable experience that unites the community and provides a unique platform for children to showcase their budding artistic prowess. By empowering the next generation of young artists, this production stands as a testament to the transformative power of the arts and the enduring impact it can have on individuals and communities alike.

Following Misty Copeland’s presentation and live Q&A session, audience members will enjoy the ballet starring American Ballet Theatre stars, Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside.  

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

Ekaterina Shchelkanova
Founder of Open World Dance Foundation

In 2016, OWDF’s premiere of Cinderella gave 123 children–many with no previous dance experience–the chance to perform alongside American Ballet Theatre stars Misty Copeland and Calvin Royal III. Although many productions are often reserved for those with certain financial, educational, and racial backgrounds, this Cinderella production broke boundaries in the industry by opening the world of the performing arts to all. Not only were children able to enjoy performing in a professional production alongside world-renowned stars, but they were immersed in a comprehensive educational experience. The Foundation treated all participants to over three months’ worth of ballet classes, rehearsals, and lectures on the history of ballet and art.

OWDF continued this tradition the following year in Fort Lauderdale and is now collaborating with Brass City Ballet and local arts organizations to bring this mission to life, with hopes of bringing the joy of dance to even more young dreamers and audience members!

“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 for OWDF’s production of “Cinderella” in 2016

A groundbreaking performance needed in our day and age more than ever

At the heart of this endeavour lies our commitment to involving children and the community at large in every aspect of the production. We believe that fostering a sense of belonging and providing opportunities for young talent to shine is paramount. Therefore, the following elements will be incorporated:

1. Youth Casting: A significant portion of the cast will comprise talented youth from the local Connecticut community. We plan to hold auditions for Cinderella in the fall of 2023, which will be open to children and youth from all backgrounds, regardless of previous ballet training. This opportunity not only provides these young performers with an invaluable experience but also creates a sense of pride and engagement within the community.

2. Community Workshops: Prior to the performance, we will organize workshops for children, inviting them to learn about the art of ballet, storytelling, and stagecraft. These workshops will instill a sense of ownership and excitement among children, as they get a firsthand look at the behind-the-scenes aspects of a grand production.

3. Community Collaborations: We are partnering with the Middlbury, CT, based nonprofit dance organization, Brass City Ballet, to coordinate and collaborate with the CT Office of the Arts, CT State Department of Education, regional arts councils, regional and local schools, art organizations, and community centers to involve children in the creative process. This collaborative effort will enhance a sense of unity and shared achievement.

4. Charitable Component: To further extend our commitment to the community, a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will be allocated to support arts education initiatives in local schools. This ensures that the impact of this performance goes beyond the stage and resonates in the lives of young learners.

Helping Orphans’ Dreams Come True

As unique as the performing aspects of this Cinderella production are, Open World Dance Foundation is equally dedicated to making the backstage world of costume design, lighting, sets, and backdrops a meaningful opportunity for youth and children.

Each costume and backdrop in the production is a living celebration of young talent and carries a special story for both the performers and the creators behind the scenes. Prior to the premiere of Cinderella in 2016, Open World Dance Foundation held a contest throughout orphanages for the best illustration of the Cinderella fairytale by Charles Perrault. After looking through hundreds of creations, Open World Dance Foundation selected the best drawings to be created in real life in our Cinderella production. Eleven-year-old Anna Osipenkova’s drawing of Cinderella’s house dress was chosen as the basis for the costume worn by Misty Copeland on stage, and young, talented Vasilisa Marova’s drawings of the castle, ballroom and home living room and came to life in the backdrops and scenery of our show.

Leading up to the Houston premiere, each of the costumes were hand-sown by our wonderful wardrobe team of Houston locals, Marla and Kathleen, who quickly became our close friends during the production process. For us, Cinderella isn’t just about the dancing; it’s also about the priceless friendships and bonds that get formed during the production and continue long after the curtains have the performance comes to an end. We treasure all the relationships that have blossomed during past productions, and look forward to making even more new friends in this upcoming 2024 production!

Earlier this year, OWDF Founders set out to personally drive the Cinderella sets and costumes from Florida, where we held our last production, to Connecticut. Each time this Cinderella production is brought to life, it is not only a chance for young performers to shine on stage, but for the talent of these young illustrators to be displayed. For us, both are equally important and we do everything in our power to continue this tradition.

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How you can join us in making dreams come true

If you would like to participate in performances:

Children as young as 3 years old, WITH OR WITHOUT dance experience, have the chance to be introduced to the performing arts world and experience the magical story of Cinderella alongside world-renowned stars.

If you are a pre-professional or professional dancer, we offer the chance to star in SOLOIST AND PRINCIPAL ROLES and the opportunity to reach the next level in your dance career. Gain impressive performing experience for your resume, meet new connections and mentors, and access tools to help you find new work opportunities worldwide!

If you are an adult who simply loves to dance or an experienced ballroom dancer looking for a unique production, we open Cinderella’s stunning “Ballroom Scene” to you full of delightful waltzes and swirling dresses!

If you are a school owner, aspiring or experienced teacher, we offer the opportunity to shine through your students and give exposure to your name in the international world of professional dance!

If you would like to help fund this production:

As OWDF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, donators are eligible to claim deduction on federal taxes. Donations can be made directly to the foundation or through our GoFundMe page. All proceeds will go directly to funding this production of Cinderella, as well as to charitable organizations in Connecticut that OWDF will donate to following the performance.

For any inquiries, please contact us by email.

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