Nicole Firpo will dance the biggest role of her career when she stars in Central West Ballet's "Cinderella."
The 19-year-old prima ballerina has been in many ballets but she never has spent so much time on stage for one part. The role requires two solos and two pas de deux.
"You have to develop your stamina to get through all three acts," said Firpo, who is a sophomore communications major at California State University, Stanislaus.
Firpo is dancing the title role in half of the four performances, with Lindsay Weddle and Alyssa Milano taking over the part for one show each.
"Cinderella" is the company's season finale and will be a lavish affair, with rented sets and costumes from Texas Ballet Theater in Dallas.
Set to music by Sergey Prokofiev, "Cinderella" debuted in Russia in the 1940s and receive notable productions from Sir Frederick Ashton at England's Royal Ballet and Ben Stevenson (current artistic director at Texas Ballet Theater) in the United States.
Central West Artistic Director René Daveluy said he chose the show because he loves Prokofiev's music.
"When you listen to 'Cinderella,' it's an incredible score," he said. "It's progressive because Prokofiev was a progressive composer."
Ballet Mistress Leslie Ann Larson added that the Modesto community particularly enjoys ballets with a story.
The fairy tale about the poor girl who is mistreated by her stepfamily is found in many cultures and dates back to ancient China. The ballet version includes all the familiar elements -- the glass slipper, the pumpkin coach and the prince who rescues Cinderella and makes her his wife.
"In the first act, I'm trying to portray an innocent girl who's a dreamer and wants more," Firpo said.
She enjoys interacting with the stepsisters, who are played by Wally Lane and Phillip Riskin in all performances.
"Their facial expressions are so funny, it's very difficult to keep a straight face."
Hazel Cran, Dana Holm and Elease Carlson alternate as the mean stepmother, with Cran and Holm also rotating as the fairy godmother. Joseph Adkins and Brandon Phelps alternate as Prince Charming.
"It will be a beautiful show," Firpo said. "I think it's a family-friendly performance that everybody can come to and enjoy."