MOST ballet companies have a production of Cinderella in their repertoire, with the majority of them set to the Prokofiev score and featuring a fairy godmother who brings about a transformation that takes place largely off-stage.
Northern Ballet: Cinderella - Edinburgh Festival Theatre
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The fact that Northern Ballet does none of those three things tells you there’s something just that bit different about David Nixon’s new version. And although the word “different” can set alarm bells ringing for more conservative ballet fans, who fear the loss of pointe shoes, beautiful costumes and romantic pas de deux – rest assured they’re all in there too.
Rather than be locked into Prokofiev’s gorgeous but well-used score, Nixon commissioned Philip Feeney to create a new, expansive piece of music filled with twinkling percussion and cultural references. While the new setting – in Imperial Russia – leads to a fun market scene populated by circus artistes, and some fancy ice skating (who knew pointe shoes could glide across the stage so smoothly?).
But it is the transformational scene that audiences will remember most. With the fairy godmother replaced by an intentionally haphazard magician, the conjurer comes into his own when he gives Cinderella and her dirty dish-filled kitchen the mother of all makeovers, right in front of our eyes. It’s a moment that, quite rightly, gets its own round of applause. But what Nixon also succeeds in doing is giving this story more emotional depth. The cruel stepmother has a believable back-story, the prince is fallible – and the relationship between him and Cinderella touchingly real.
Seen on 20.03.14