The age-old tale of Cinderella has been retold for centuries, with generations of audiences repeatedly puzzling over the oddity of this beautiful, bedraggled girl’s exact shoe size.
Yes, the plot has a few holes – exactly how large or small could Cinderella’s feet really be? – but it still makes for mesmerising theatre whenever taken to the stage.
I dropped into Northampton’s Royal and Derngate yesterday (Thursday) to witness The Russian State Ballet of Siberia’s take on the story, set to Sergei Prokofiev’s expressive music.
The fairy tale is predictably told, including all the familiar elements of the downtrodden Cinderella, who is helped by a fairy to go to a ball, meet her prince and finally escape the clutches of her family. Apologies for the spoiler here but the story has been around for a while!
Despite this familiar structure, Sergei Bobrov’s choreography seemed to push the boundaries beyond traditional ballet, producing the feel of contemporary dance in many places.
Cinderella’s horrible family members are categorised by their sharp, jagged dance moves of arms and legs, which see the sisters sometimes appear to place weight on their heels, comedically stomping and scrambling around the stage.
I loved the blend of romance and comedy in this version. Much of the humour came from the stepmother, danced by Georgii Bolsunovskii, and daughters played by Yaroslava Bolsunovskaya and Anastasiia Osokina.
Much was made of the farcical scene in which the stepsisters and stepmother try on Cinderella’s slipper, which saw some very funny flirtatious dancing from Georgii’s character.
I think the humour and generally rough, angular presentation of these characters helped accentuate the smooth fluidity of movement showcased by the prince, a role taken on by Marcello Pelizzoni, and Cinderella, danced by Elena Svinko.
Marcello is a powerful, talented dancer and he was well matched alongside Elena with her elegant and finely placed movements.
Another fascinating feature of this choreography was the presentation of Time Heralds, a sinister band of dancers decked in black and red, with faces covered. Their dances seemed to echo the rhythms and components of the clock which strikes midnight and separates our two lovebirds.
* The Russian State Ballet of Siberia’s UK tour will remain at Royal and Derngate throughout this week. This evening (Friday), audiences will enjoy Snow Maiden, followed by a production of The Nutcracker tomorrow (Saturday). Visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk to book.