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BEST DANCER Minneapolis 2005 - Stephanie Fellner

In past Christmas seasons, we've seen Stephanie Fellner command the stage with a mixture of Mick Jagger swagger and Cruella de Ville mischief as the Rat Queen in the Ballet of the Dolls' production of the Nutcracker?! (Not So) Suite. This year she took on the considerably sweeter role of Cinderella, and transformed the typically bland, Disneyfied character into a plucky and wise heroine. Starring in the Dolls' Cinderella and the Glass Slipper at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, the petite Fellner--who always seems to move with the sort of buoyant delicacy reserved for feathers tossed by the breeze--danced with beautiful abandon. It's not the first time we've seen Fellner sparkle onstage: A longtime Doll, she's tackled many meaty roles (including the doomed diva of The Red Shoes) and was a memorable presence in works by choreographers Penelope Freeh and Uri Sands, among others. No matter what the assignment, Fellner always gives everything to her dancing, sharing the spotlight when necessary, but also knowing when to embrace her star turn with a flash of grace and an all-too-rare sense of humility and honor.

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