Kentucky Ballet Theatre's artistic director Norbe Risco is ditching the comfort of the director's seat for a wig, make-up and a dash of ugly.
He is joining his wife, Rafaela Risco, to bring the roles of Cinderella's ugly stepsisters to life during the Kentucky Ballet Theatre's production of Cinderella at the Lexington Opera House on Saturday and Sunday.
That's a bit of a switch for Rafaela, who danced the lead role of Cinderella during her farewell performance as a principal dancer in 2009.
But this isn't Norbe's first time playing the part of a female or performing in a show he's directed, he says.
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"It's a great pleasure for me to be a part of it and to perform with the dancers," Norbe says.
He adds that making the audience laugh isn't as easy as it may seem.
"You have to, everyday, improve and do it a little bit different," he says. "When I hear dancers or people around me laughing, I think to myself, 'I guess I'm doing something good here,' because that's what I'm looking for, to be funny."
Brienne Lowry, executive director and dancer at Kentucky Ballet Theatre, says the duo never fail to make her laugh.
"It's really fun to have them on stage and really just do something that's not classical," Lowry says. "It's definitely one of our biggest ballets and one of our biggest productions. It is absolutely hilarious, but also the music is stunning and moving."
The theatre is using the original Cinderella score by Sergei Prokofiev for the production.
Kelsey Van Tine, who is in her sixth season with Kentucky Ballet Theatre and her second year as principal female dancer, will dance the title role..
Learning the part of Cinderella was difficult, Van Tine says. But with Rafaela as a mentor, Van Tine says she is ready for the upcoming performances.
"There's so much work and energy and effort on everybody's behalf not just Cinderella's," Van Tine says. "It's difficult for every single person in this ballet."
Ballet homework is more than just stretching and taking care of her body, Van Tine says.
"Two weeks ago, I was struggling with the choreography because it was new and overwhelming and my body was struggling with it," she says. "I took a DVD of the last time we did a production and I sat down with a pen and paper and I spent three hours and nine pages writing down every single step of choreography that I do."
Dancing as Cinderella's Prince Charming is Jorge Barani. Barani is well-known on social media, racking up over 20,000 followers on Instagram. He is also a principal dancer at the theatre, as well as a double gold medalist at the World Ballet Competition in Orlando. Company dancers will perform the roles of the Fairy Godmother and the fairies.
Approximately 60-75 people helped make the season finale possible.
"There are a lot of people on stage for a lot of the show," Lowry says. "That requires a lot of precision. It's hard. It's technically one of the hardest shows the company will do."