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Local Talent To Be On Display in SVB’s Cinderella

Bria Gepitulan and John Canfield; Cinderella and her Prince dance in the Southwest Virginia Ballet.

by Nancy Kelderhouse

The talent of the Southwest Virginia Ballet Company dancers has never been more apparent than in the upcoming production of Cinderella. The production is being brought to life with original choreography by Southwest Virginia Ballet Artistic Director Pedro Szalay, and a beautiful music score by Sergei Prokofiev.

With a cast of over 65 performers, Southwest Virginia Ballet (SVB) will bring this great classic to the stage of the Roanoke Performing Arts Theatre on April 2nd and 3rd.  With recently purchased props, backdrops, sets, and costumes from Ballet Florida, SVB is gearing up for a presentation on the same scale as The Nutcracker. The talented cast of dancers comes from seven dance studios from numerous Southwest Virginia communities:  Ardell Stone School of Dancing, Blue Ridge Academy of Dance, Dance Centre of Southwest Virginia, Francesca’s School of Dance, Linda Watkins School of Dance, Roanoke Ballet Theatre, and Valley Dance.

Bria Gepitulan, a senior at Hidden Valley High School, dances the lead role of Cinderella.  Bria began her dance training at the age of 3 in California.  Moving to Roanoke in 7th grade, she continued her dance training at Post School of Ballet, now the Dance Centre of Southwest Virginia.  Bria trains at the Dance Centre during the week, and for the past five years has trained and performed with Southwest Virginia Ballet.  She plans to attend Virginia Commonwealth University in the fall in addition to exploring a professional dance training opportunity with The Richmond Ballet.

In a recent conversation Bria shared, “When I dance, I can take on the world and anything is possible.”  Bria enjoys modern and jazz in addition to ballet and says she never dreamed she would have the skills or opportunity to dance a lead role in a full length classic like Cinderella.

John Canfield, a home schooled student from New Castle, dances the role of Prince in SVB’s April performances of Cinderella.  John has been dancing since the age of 3, beginning his training at New Castle School of Dance and now dancing at the Dance Centre of Southwest Virginia.   Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Aaron Canfield, John danced his favorite role, Nutcracker Prince, in SVB’s 2010 production of The Nutcracker.  John has trained and performed with SVB for five years, focusing on a professional career for the past two seasons.  His professional training will begin this summer as a student of Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto, the training ground for Canada’s National Ballet.  John’s love of dance and artistry is evident to all who dance with him or observe him, in the rehearsal studio or on stage.

Molly Cook, a sophomore at Lord Botetourt High School, dances the role of Fairy Godmother.  Molly started her dance training at the age of three with Floyd Ward School of Dance, continuing with Roanoke Ballet Theatre, and now dances with the Dance Centre of Southwest Virginia.  Molly joined SVB two years ago and has had the desire to pursue a professional career in classical ballet since the age of ten. She has fond memories of her mother reading a children’s book about a ballerina to her when she was little, creating a passionate interest that Molly continues to pursue today.   Molly’s elegant portrayal of Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother has quickly become one of her most favorite roles.

In addition to the many student dancers from around the valley, the roles of the two step sisters are filled by SVB alumni Abigail Williams and Rebecca Feather; both dance instructors in the Valley.  Rebecca is also SVB’s Ballet Mistress.  Last but certainly not least, well known and recognizable Roanoke thespians Larry VanDeventer and Tom Honer will complete the cast filling the roles of the ugly, cruel, and comedic stepmother and Cinderella’s Father, respectively.

Larry has graced the stage as Herr Drosselmeyer, the magical and favorite uncle of Clara since 1996 in SVB’s production of The Nutcracker.  Tom has filled many roles with SVB over the past 20+ years, including an annual stint as Grandfather in SVB’s production of The Nutcracker.  Over the years Tom has made The Nutcracker’s Party Scene as memorable for the other performers on stage as for the audiences who have enjoyed his genuinely funny, and contagious antics.

This delightful and “family friendly” production, like all other Southwest Virginia Ballet productions, would not be possible without the support of the family and friends of every participant, as well as the many volunteers and supporters from throughout the Commonwealth.

Tickets are available for purchase at the Roanoke Civic Center Box Office and online at or by phone at (877) 482-8496.   For additional information about Southwest Virginia Ballet or the upcoming production of Cinderella, visit

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