Cinderella, English National Ballet, ENB at the London Coliseum, August 2010

This is a very welcome revival of Michael Corder’s production, with beautiful dancing by Daria Klimentova as Cinderella, very well supported by Vadim Muntagirov as the prince. She showed a charming strength and serenity, and he was a danseur noble with elegant gestures and superb entrechats and pirouettes. They made a wonderful couple.

Muntagirov as the prince, photo by Pedro Lapetra

Michael Corder’s choreography is very different from Ashton’s version for the Royal Ballet. Among a host of differences, two things stand out. One is that the stepsisters are girls, rather than en travesti roles, and Ashton’s cuts are rescinded, so the start of Act III involves the prince being tempted by other women, including Spanish, Egyptian and Oriental princesses. The sisters were brilliantly performed by Adela Ramirez and Sarah McIlroy, who also danced the Spanish and Egyptian princesses in Act III. They showed a pretty bitchiness they obviously got from their mother, who is very much present in this production. She was well portrayed by Jane Haworth, with Michael Coleman as a seriously hen-pecked husband.

An interesting aspect of this production are the vision scenes. When Cinderella is being mercilessly teased and abused by her stepsisters and stepmother in Act I, the fairy godmother, danced by Begoña Cao, appears to her alone — this is different from Ashton’s version where an old crone arrives to beg for food. Then there is a second vision scene in Act III when Cinderella appears to the Prince, but eludes him. These visions are a fine aspect of Michael Corder’s version, as is the transformation at the end when the old house vanishes, though I missed the midnight transformation when her costume turns to rags. Here she simply runs off in her finery, but this does fit with the concept of Cinderella creating her own transformation, embodied in her early conjuring up of a fairy godmother.

Sarah McIlroy, Juan Rodriguez, Adela Ramirez, photo by Annabel Mueller

It’s a huge cast, and the dancing was very good indeed. I particularly liked Juan Rodriguez as the dancing master, who had excellent stage presence, and his gestures were wonderful. Prokofiev’s music was beautifully conducted by music director Gavin Sutherland. He gave it warmth and spontaneity, and I liked Paul Pyant’s lighting design, which allowed us to feel as if we were present at an evening where dreams become reality.

Performances continue until Sunday, August 15, including a celebration of the English National Ballet’s 60th birthday on Saturday the 14th — for more details click here.

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