Reviews of San Francisco Ballet's "Cinderella."SF Weekly
Played in drag in Frederick Ashton's 1948 version of the ballet, Wheeldon's stepsisters -- the haughty Edwina, danced with smirking success by Sarah Van Patten, and spunky, bespectacled Clementine, danced by the endearingly hilarious Frances Chung -- take center stage from their first entrance, whether bickering or sashaying through comically competitive routines. They might be villains, but Cinderella isn't so sweet herself, flinging her new sisters' proffered bouquet disdainfully at stepmother Hortensia's feet.
The San Francisco Appeal
Maria Kochetkova is captivating as Cinderella. The role allows her to project extreme emotions ranging from deep anguish to heightened senses of joy and fulfillment. Her first scene is reminiscent of Aurora's entrance in Sleeping Beauty—we need to see the effervescence of a budding debutante. Cinderella is radiant and respectful as she lovingly approaches her mother's grave carrying a bouquet of flowers....... A pall comes over the moment as her father enters arm-in-arm with Hortensia and her daughters. Cinderella realizes she is to be at the bottom of this new totem. With a simple downcast glance, Maria Kochetkova can convey profound defeat.
And that may be the greatest gift that Wheeldon can give to story ballets. His genius with abstract, story-less ballets in the past has been his ability to find connections and create new ways to see dance. And so surprisingly, this same gift transcends “Cinderella” as he brings to light the flow and earnestness of these relationships through a beautiful ballet that moves you to pieces. Better yet, the choreography itself is interesting, infusing infectious gestures with sweeping legs and curtsy-like steps.
Gratefully, Wheeldon took the saccharine out of "Cinderella" but with it went some of the sweetness. Except for the last Pas de Deux, an intensely private moment between two young people deeply in love, the choreography was at its most inventive during its high comedy sections. Some of those were simply brilliant. Trying on the slipper became a race along the lines of Musical Chairs, the sped-up national dances tumbled over each other, and instead of a white dove dropping the dress -- Wheeldon opted for Grimm -- a whole menagerie of fantastical beasts got involved.