Adelaide’s glitterati were out in full force Friday for the opening night of The Australian Ballet’s Adelaide season of Alexei Ratmansky’s Cinderella.
Promoted as a glamorous reimagining of the Cinderella tale, this sumptuous production did not disappoint.
Friday’s performance featured Madeline Eastoe in the role of Cinderella, Kevin Jackson as the Prince, Laura Tong as Cinderella’s Stepmother, Ingrid Gow as the Skinny Stepsister, and Eloise Fryer as the Dumpy Stepsister. All these principals and soloists gave outstanding performances both in terms of their technical ability and their skill in conveying the personality and emotions of their characters.
Cinderella is clearly the caring, shy and downtrodden young girl who blossoms under the Prince’s attentions, and the Prince is the boastful young man who falls deeply in love and will go to the ends of the earth (literally) to find his lost Cinderella. Comic value is provided by the Stepmother and Stepsisters.
While traditionally the Stepsisters are the ‘ugly stepsisters’, it’s hard to make these lovely dancers truly ugly so instead, the ‘dumpy stepsister’s’ short stature is emphasise by her tulip-like tutu, and the ‘tall skinny’ stepsister is elongated by a ridiculously high hair-do. Both wear knee-high socks which instantly brands them as gawky and ungainly, and their (deliberate) lack of co-ordination cements it. The Stepmother is ferocious and sleek, her impossibly long fur train reminiscent of an evil Disney witch.
There’s not a great deal of variance to the original Cinderella story, it’s more the setting and costumes that set it apart from traditional productions. Cinderella and her family live in an abandoned theatre and the time period is the 1940s. The chic glamour of the 40s is most apparent in Act I when the costumes are more experimental and again at the commencement of the ballroom scene when, initially, all the women are in pastel suits. Guests soon change their ensembles once Cinderella arrives in a gorgeous, gold romantic tutu, and this is where the costumes become those one expects to see in a classical ballet.
Performances by the corps de ballet were also outstanding, and the updated choreography involved mini character vignettes rather than all back-up dancers doing the same thing in unison. The effect was spectacular.
All the women were like liquid steel – both utterly graceful and impossibly strong simultaneously. And while the men were also great, this brings me to the one criticism of the show – while the women were showcased, the men appeared sidelined. In recent history, ballet has evolved to move male dancers from the role of support to the female lead, to equal participant. It felt like this production had taken a step backwards, and in the pursuit of laughs had feminised the male corps to the point of ridicule, and lessened the role of male principals.
The Prince had a few good solos, but overall the choreography didn’t allow him to demonstrate the real power of the modern male dancer. This is a small criticism, however, of what is overall a visually opulent and original production of a well loved tale.
Reviewed by: Samantha Bond
Venue: Festival Theatre, Adelaide
Season: 4-10 July 2014
Duration: 3 hours
Tickets: From $36
Bookings: Book online through the Adelaide Festival Centre website or phone BASS on 131 246
- The Australian Ballet
- Adelaide Festival Centre
- American Ballet Theatre biography of Alexei Ratmansky
@TheAusBallet @samstaceybond @AdelaideFesCent