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Cinderella: Russian National Ballet Theatre

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Russian National Ballet Theatre


20 January 2011, 7 PM

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

Orchestra Row T Seat 22

Music from the eponymous ballet by S Prokofieff

Choreographed by Elena and Sergei Radchenko

Cinderella: Marianna Tchemalina

Prince: Ruslan Mukhambetkaliev

To my relief, the over-reliance on previous knowledge of the plot in Romeo and Juliet has been replaced (mostly) with clearly choreographed sequences of events. None of it seems to match the printed libretto, but no matter, I am not tempted to post stream of consciousness recountings of the action today.

Overall, this was a pleasantly danced performance accompanied by a badly edited soundtrack. The stepmother (danced en travesti) lusted after any available men and the stepsisters preened as best they could under over-large wigs. Cinderella (Tchemalina) was appropriately pathetic at home but was fortuitously rescued by a lushly danced Lilac Fairy Godmother (Ekaterina Egorova) and her seasonal attendants, who unfortunately seemed to clothed in tutus spackled with marshmallow bits from Lucky Charms cereal.

Mukhambetkaliev's bravura actually served a point today and didn't look inappropriate, particularly with the requisite Soviet Court Jester at his side. His partnering of Cinderella also looked harmonious today against the Classical instead of Romantic setting of the plot. I was especially taken with the court's performance of a mazurka to the Grand Waltz, which shows the depth of their character work*.

Instead of the typical sequence of the Prince traveling the land, ambassadors of exotic lands brought their prospective princesses to court for footwear inspections. Here I break into the narrative again to note that the action thus far seems a pastiche from everything else: Cinderella was presented at court in a SB-esque pas de quatre, and now an inspection of the Princesses a la Swan Lake (oh what next?). The Prince luckily caused no diplomatic incidents and here I run out of steam, but not before adding that the story ends happily enough in the expected manner.

My production line of reviews continue sooner or later with a traveling production of the Nutcracker, seen in Durham, North Carolina.

Some discussion questions for aspiring librettists:

1. Is Cinderella's father actually dead?

2. Why does the dancing master bring the invitation to the ball to the house? Was this an informal tete-a-tete?

3. If you make the clock a drably-clothed dancing scarecrow, can anyone figure out what he's there for when the moment comes?

*To be honest, I would have preferred 1.5 hours of character dancing to much of the production. It was much better danced and (perhaps my gentle readers can tell) much more memorable.

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