Sorry, Disney…this ballet owns.
Dec 27-30, 2011 – Royal Theatre, Victoria
Jan 14, 2012 – Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre, Vernon
Jan 20, 2012 – Cowichan Theatre, Duncan
Even if you think the Cinderella story is as brittle as her famous glass slippers, Ballet Victoria’s third production of Cinderella and the Fairy Tale Ball transports the story a few hundred years into the future while keeping it fresh, funny and old school romantic.
In this choreography, artistic director/choreographer Paul Destrooper sets the tale in the early 20th century—the era of silent film—but still celebrates its fairy tale origins by including characters such as Puss-in-Boots, Peter Pan and the Big Bad Wolf.
The show played to mostly sellout crowds in Victoria last week, and will appear on stage again on Jan 14th at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre in Vernon, BC. After that, the troupe takes the show to the Cowichan Theatre in Duncan, BC, on Jan. 20th.
Here are 10 reasons everyone had a ball watching BV’s Cinderella ballet:
- Principal dancer Andrea Bayne: The Halifax-born Bayne originated the role when the ballet was first created for the company a few seasons ago. She is an exceptionally creative as well as technical dancer who also can project her dazzling charm to the back seats of the theatre. But don’t be fooled by her simple sweetness and beauty in the early part of the show—this Cinderella will rock you with her exquisite pirouettes, expressive arms and perfect arabesques. Her transformation from house slave to princess is more awesome than anything you’ll see in the Disney cartoon.
- New Company Member Sandrine Cassini: Cassini, who joined BV this season, plays the dual role of Film Director/Fairy Godmother. True to her character, she is magical to watch. Cassini is an accomplished international dancer who has received rave reviews for her performances with the Paris Opera, the Zurich Ballet, the Mannheim Ballet, Ballet BC and many others. She has also choreographed works in Europe and North America…including a piece for BV`s last production in October.
- The Silent Film Reels: While the Cinderella sets are simple and moveable between scenes, the company has invested much time and effort in creating background film sequences to create a sense of place and time. Early on, as Cinderella is imagining the ball and what it would be like to dance with Prince Charming (danced by the talented Robb Beresford), the silent film depicts her at the ball with the prince (who in this version is a movie star looking for a leading lady for his next big film). Later, the film reels are used to show how the prince is travelling the globe by air, sea and land to search for the owner of the glass slipper.
- Z Snap, the fashion designer: Company dancer Geoff Malcolm is the go-to performer for any character role that’s broad or campy and his performance of the grandly flamboyant yet haughty fashion designer, Z Snap, is one that audiences will likely be laughing about even after the show is over. You can tell Malcolm relishes these roles because he does them so well. Also dancing some equally comedic roles were Amanda Radetzky as the outlandish Stepmother, and Su-Yin MacDonell and Christie Wood as the garish and funny Stepsisters, Chupa and Lupa.
- The Arabian Dancer: Company member Tao (pronounced “TAY-oh”) Kerr is one of the most elegant dancers in the company, and has a beautiful line to her movements. Her performance in a shimmering, midriff-baring harem costume was breathtaking. Audiences will want to see much more of Kerr’s dancing in future shows.
- The Divertissements: As with most narrative ballets, the choreographer builds in some opportunities for pure dance spectacle during a kind of pause, or divertissement, in the storyline. Nutcracker be damned—this Cinderella ballet not only has dancing mice but also a dancing Alice (Tao Kerr), Peter Pan (Io Morita), Tinkerbell (Natsuki Hatakeyama), Puss ‘n Boots (Joel Esposito alternating with Mika Anbiru), Little Red Riding Hood (Risa Kobayashi) and Big Bad Wolf (Brichelle Brucker). We also have sparkling dances from the Spring, Summer Autumn and Winter Fairies (Hatakeyama, Kerr/Kobayashi, Wood and Kobayashi, respectively). And during the scenes where the Prince is travelling the world with the Film Director and her assistant, Mr. B & W (Destrooper), we also see Kerr’s Arabian dance (as mentioned above) and three irascible Spanish dancers (Morita, Hatakeyama and Kobayashi).
- Paul Destrooper: Artistic Director Destrooper gets full marks for creating such an imaginative (and successful!) version of Cinderella for dance audiences. And he also created a Chaplinesque character for himself called Mr. B&W (alluding to the black and white films of old). His Mr. B&W is not a Chaplin impersonation, but still uses some of the familiar mannerisms (or maybe not so familiar if you haven’t see a Chaplin film). No real dancing, just a character role, but it really rounds out the cast.
- The Grey Mice and the White Mice: Performed by four dancers from the Victoria Academy of Ballet bridge program, the Grey Mice really hold their own among the professionals on stage. And it’s undeniably cute to see the two prancing White Mice, performed by four very young students of the Victoria Academy of Ballet school who alternate in the roles.
- The Final Dance with Prince Charming and Cinderella: The ultimate romantic scene in the ballet is Cinderella`s final pas de deux with Beresford`s Prince Charming. Destrooper is a master at crafting romantic pas de deux, and this one is no less stunning. Beresford maintains his nobler poise as the Prince, but also shows tenderness and genuine affection as he is partnering with his new bride-to-be. Bayne brings Cinderella`s youthful shyness into the dance but also exudes passion and confidence as she is transformed from a mistreated girl into a glorious young woman.
- The Music: It would be a crime not to mention the glorious, romantic and playful music by classical composer Sergei Prokofiev that gradually lifts Cinderella out of the ashes and into the arms of her Prince.
For more information about the show, visit balletvictoria.ca.