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Alexandra, July 20, 2004
Posted July 20, 2004
(9) Discuss the performances on the video.
Cinderella's choreography features an abundance of pointe work. Hops on pointe, lot's of presenting of the foot. Appropriate in a character who has her true identity revealed by means of a glass slipper. Sibley does a wonderful job of showing Cinderella's misfortune without decending into melodrama. Pathos with dignity I suppose. I also liked her showing us Cinderella's playfullness in her dance with the broom.
The Stepsister's as portrayed by Ashton and Helpmann are real characters, not one note comic relief. Ashton's silly, fluttery, almost insipid sister and Helpmann's bitchy, imperious one, amuse with their delusions of grandeur, and it is because of that, even though they are mean to Cinderella, that we forgive them in the end.
Anthony Dowell's Prince is both regal and kind. And he'd better be. After all HE has to be good enough to deserve Cinderella, not the other way around. But really , I think Dowell could look regal even if he came out wearing an "I'm with stupid" t-shirt and pair of flip flops. He looks aristocratic no matter what he's doing, but in this role that princely demeanor is also paired with an awe that he found such a wonderful gal!
The jester is very funny but also has an air of sadness about him. And such an incredible jumper!
Of the season fairies, the ones that made the most impression on me were Summer with her lanquidness, and Winter with her cold precision.
Your critique is great, especially your description of Cinderella's pointe work. Ashton created some exquisite steps.
Posted July 25, 2004
I’ve only seen this cast -- I THINK I saw Cinderella live with these principals in 1969 or 70, but am not sure I haven't just manufactured the memory from seeing the video, loving it, and having indeed seen Sibley and Dowell in the Dream, Swan Lake, Giselle, and smaller ballets. I loved her, loved him, love d them - -and this video reminds me a great deal of why.
For all her control and elegance --and she REALLY had that, check out the releves in passe with the qui8ck, accurate cambres in JUST the upper back, while the rest of her body is marvellously poised, light, elastic, and still, with NO give in the lower ribs -- for all that, she was a marvellous actress. One of the most telling moments in the whole thing is that one on her hands and knees in the recognition scene, when she's rushed center stage to recapture her glass slipper, and he tries to lift her up and she's so shy she resists -- it really moves me, it's so emotional, so powerful, so touching, so poignant, so full of a lifetime of NOT being recognized... She told Barbara Newman, who interviewed her for Striking a Balance, that as a young person she was much more interested in acting than ballet, and though she could obviously do the steps, she only agreed to go to the ballet school to get back to London and be with her parents (she'd been evacuated in wartime to the countryside) -- but that later when she realized she could make her arabesque say "I am sad" or "I'm exhilarated" or "I love you" that she began to really love dancing. She does this with the attitude turns in her "after the ball" dance in the kitchen, she's got a story going on the whole time, and yet she has that tiny, frail, perfectly beautiful classical body, with the long long neck -- and SUCH beautiful head positions, so accurate.... I didn't see Fonteyn in the role so can't compare the two, but I can't imagine that she outdid Sibley in that paradoxical mixture of fantasy and strict accuracy, and SIbley's fluidity in turns I'm SURE Fonteyn could not have matched, nor the strength of her footwork.
It's a great shame there's no record of Sibley's Swan Lake -- she was SO eloquent in the mime scene. The way she took shape in lifts was breath-taking (look at the lift in double-passe in the grand pas de deux in Cinderella -- it's the most beautiful one I've ever seen -- partly because of the thrill of the instantaneous appearance of the diamond shape, partly because her upper body is so powerfully stretched out of her hips, and the head position is SO beautiful). Her swan queen was much more moving to me than Makarova's -- the arabesques were not so high, but they meant more, and they meant more of the right thing. Sibley was a warm Odette, and brave -- she created a nobler creature than Makarova's. Makarova's is too close to seductive, a creature of pathos like Criseyde rather than a heroine.... But Sibley's was still inside a free spirit And her Odile was a really dangerous woman, charming and frightening -- when she did her fouettes, she made it a fantasia of lashing and whirling, throwing in doubles ad lib, at random.... each one was stinging, each with its own attack.
SO this Cinderella has to represent her to the rest of the world -- this and her WONDERFUL Florine on the RB Aurora's Wedding, in which case she thoroughly outdanced Fonteyn and everyone else onstage.
Posted July 26, 2004
"It's a great shame there's no record of Sibley's Swan Lake -- she was SO eloquent in the mime scene"
You might be interested to know that there is a video from the Royal Academy of Dance called Mime Matters which features Dowell and Sibley doing the mime scene from Swan Lake. As they are now, and in ordinary street clothes. Still quite remakable, all the same. (The same video also has Cojocaru doing the mime from Giselle, where she touches Bathilde's dress. Sarah Wildor does the mime from Fille).