Everybody loves a fairy tale told whimsically and well. Source Theater's dance interpretation of "Cinderella" succeeds on both counts, even as it ignores such givens as the glass slipper and the coach-into-a-pumpkin routine. Storybook expectations are met in Source's humor, twists and embellishments.
Librettist William Eby has set "Cinderella" in a timeless, dreamlike domain. He's added a character -- Cinderella's Best Friend -- who serves as brother, clown and savior. He's also substituted a magic amulet for the glass slipper, and introduces the Fairy Godmother as a beggar to whom Cinderella offers bags of groceries.
Martha Brim's choreography blends wonderfully with these creations and with Tom Bramel's evocative, woodwind-loving score. Through ballet, modern dance and every-day gesture, Brim brings a small society to life.
Each character is assigned a signature style of movement -- Cinderella is all feathery turns and yearning contractions; the prince leaps nobly; the wicked stepsisters grimace and contort their bodies; the Best Friend makes hilarious entrances and favors anything flamboyant or exaggerated.
Source's casting is also inspired. Cinderella is played by Karen Burns, a ballerina of both sharp angles and gossamer. Barbara Stuckey's stepmother looms tall and elegantly spiderish. David Fursteneau possesses the looks of a prince and moves with an elfin grace. And big Glen Whaley's outrageous portrayal of Cinderella's Best Friend affords heaps of comic relief.
The result is new life in a much-loved tale. CINDERELLA -- Wednesday to Sunday at 8, through June 25. YWCA Penney Auditorium. 624 Ninth St. NW. Call 462- 1073.