Young Critics Review 2018 – Cinderella – Ballet Cymru
How can a story be told through ballet alone, without a single word spoken throughout? To some, this may seem a daunting challenge, but Ballet Cymru, with their relentless creativity and innovation, performed a stunning Cinderella which was both light hearted and entertaining.
As the curtain rose, whisperings and chattering were heard, like the rustle of the wind through the boughs of trees of the luminous green wood which was shown on the background screen. This opening held the audience’s attention with its sudden mystery and intrigue. From the very beginning, the sound score was beautiful and hypnotic, linking well with the changes of scene: an upbeat waltz at the masked ball and singing flutes in the wood.
Every minute section of Cinderella was intricate and carefully planned, leaving the audience utterly wonderstruck. The caring wood sprite – who became Cinderella’s godmother – fluttered their body with the trill of the flute, binding the music and dance effectively.
The costumes were fitting – in more ways than one! The step-mother wore a gothic black outfit, a curious dark hat perched on her head, tied with red ribbon. This was an unusual but interesting dress which contrasted starkly with the innocent white gown of Cinderella’s at the masked ball. Previously, the heroine had been wearing a ragged, faded skirt which had once been fully red – before she met the evil step-mother.
There were also many slight changes to the original fairytale. Replacing the classic two ugly sisters, was a sister and brother combination, who were more immature than unpleasant, acting giddily for slapstick effect. Their dances together consisted of clapping games and spinning faster and faster, the music crescendoing and the tempo increasing until one would suddenly fall over. The sister wore two pigtails conveying her young and childish personality.
One of my favourite elements of the ballet was the frequent use of humour. When it was clear that the sister’s foot would not fit the slipper, the step-mother, in her desperation, dresses the brother as a girl – putting an oddly shaped bag over his short hair. Before actually trying on the shoe, the prince and the ‘sister’ danced together and the routine becomes comic and funny when the step- brother attempted to pick up the shocked-looking prince making the audience laugh out loud.
Another part I liked, was when the evil step mother became certain that both her children’s feet did not fit into the shoe. In fury, she dragged them behind the sofa at the back of the stage and ‘cut’ their feet with an axe. The two siblings would scream and limp out afterwards, a red ribbon now trailing behind them. This memorable shocking part, was just one of the ways that Ballet Cymru made their performances that bit different, and sets them apart from other companies.
I found the companionship between the characters touching and real. Prince Charming even rode onto the stage on a bicycle with his friend running behind him. After a dance which conveyed their camaraderie and playfulness, the prince agreed to let his companion hop on the back. This amusing scene felt so familiar and personal, the audience could immediately warm to the characters and relate and laugh with them.
Overall, this tireless, uplifting performance, with skilled dancing and smiles that never faltered, was utterly breathtaking. I have seen Ballet Cymru perform three times and after Cinderella, I would definitely want to watch another.
By Emily Robson
Image: Sleepy Robot