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Spring 2015: Cinderella


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I'm debating whether to come in for Cinderella (which I have not seen) or Swan Lake, my favorite full-length ballet. Last year I had tickets for the ill-fated SL performance in which Gillian injured herself after performing a spectacular first act and was quickly replaced in Act II by Hee Seo. Not the same level at all. Do you think Cinderella compares in any way to SL? I know it's a comic ballet. Do you think it's worth seeing? Are any announced casts preferable? Or should I try again to see Gillian and Marcelo in SL and hope there are no cast changes before the performance. It will be getting late in the season, the dancers are tired and overworked, and anything can happen. Your advice would be helpful.

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Cinderella is very different from Swan Lake but it is a twentieth-century masterwork very much in the spirit of nineteenth-century ballets such as Sleeping Beauty which Ashton obviously had in mind. It's charming and a fairy tale--but not trivial and has particularly remarkable classical variations for soloists (the four seasons sequence is worthy of a British Petipa) and a beautiful pas de deux for Cinderella and the Prince at the Ball.

It's Ashton--requiring not just lyricism but quickness and full use of the upper body, and it's not bravura -- there is nothing comparable to the Black Swan pas de deux. I suppose ABT dancers may have trouble with some of the intricacies (I have only seen it with the Royal), but most of them should be very good. The Royal's Nunez is dancing at least one performance too.

Before making a final decision you might want to listen to the music (or for that matter check out excerpts of the ballet on youtube)--the score is Prokoviev and has many beautiful melodies including some of his most beautiful walzes, but it's slightly dark, even sour in tone at times.

One criticism of the ballet that even admirers sometimes make is that there is too much "schtick" for the Stepmother and stepsisters; I never minded much, but in any case consider it a small price to pay for the classical sequences and the delights of the ballerina part. (It's not as if the ABT version of Swan Lake doesn't have weak spots.) Though great leads and secondary dancers make a big difference many of its wonderful qualities are well-nigh cast-proof and ABT has several different quality dancers dancing the lead this time round, so even if there are cast changes you have a good chance of seeing someone you are likely to enjoy.

That said, if you want a Swan Lake fix--well, obviously Cinderella is not really "like" Swan Lake ...

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Thanks, Drew, for your helpful analysis. I'll check out the Royal Ballet clips of Cinderella on YouTube before I decide. Wish I could see both ballets but two weeks in a row is too much given that it takes nearly 2 hours each way on the train.

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Another thing to keep in consideration: Swan Lake is a warhorse that you can probably see every season, but Cinderella (IIRC) is a loaned production and so it might not come back or be a permanent part of ABT's repertory.

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I'm debating whether to come in for Cinderella (which I have not seen) or Swan Lake, my favorite full-length ballet. Last year I had tickets for the ill-fated SL performance in which Gillian injured herself after performing a spectacular first act and was quickly replaced in Act II by Hee Seo. Not the same level at all. Do you think Cinderella compares in any way to SL? I know it's a comic ballet. Do you think it's worth seeing? Are any announced casts preferable? Or should I try again to see Gillian and Marcelo in SL and hope there are no cast changes before the performance. It will be getting late in the season, the dancers are tired and overworked, and anything can happen. Your advice would be helpful.

If you love story ballets that are emotionally focused around a single character, stick with Swan Lake. At times, Cinderella can seem like a series of beautiful but disconnected Christmas pageant scenes.

You'll see an almost equal amount of classical dance in both ballets, but Swan Lake has more bravura, particularly for the female lead. That said, as Drew mentioned, the dance wealth is far more evenly spread through the company, so it's more resistant to poor casting. Also, if you enjoy seeing up-and-coming dancers, more will probably be on display in Cinderella.

I personally would stick with the Murphy/Gomes ticket: I'd pay to see this pairing in anything...and this is one of Murphy's greatest roles. Also, given the way the rest of the week is cast, Murphy's most likely replacements in the event of injury would seem to be Part or Boylston...neither of which would be a bad trade in this role.

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Another thing to keep in consideration: Swan Lake is a warhorse that you can probably see every season, but Cinderella (IIRC) is a loaned production and so it might not come back or be a permanent part of ABT's repertory.

Plus they did it last year and this year, and for anything other than Swan Lake but still high-profile ballets, the pattern seems to be two-years-on, one-year-off. Swan Lake is here every. single. year.

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Thanks, Drew, for your helpful analysis. I'll check out the Royal Ballet clips of Cinderella on YouTube before I decide. Wish I could see both ballets but two weeks in a row is too much given that it takes nearly 2 hours each way on the train.

I think the whole RB is on DVD. You can probably rent if from Netflix.

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I'm debating whether to come in for Cinderella (which I have not seen) or Swan Lake, my favorite full-length ballet. Last year I had tickets for the ill-fated SL performance in which Gillian injured herself after performing a spectacular first act and was quickly replaced in Act II by Hee Seo. Not the same level at all. Do you think Cinderella compares in any way to SL? I know it's a comic ballet. Do you think it's worth seeing? Are any announced casts preferable? Or should I try again to see Gillian and Marcelo in SL and hope there are no cast changes before the performance. It will be getting late in the season, the dancers are tired and overworked, and anything can happen. Your advice would be helpful.

I don’t think the two ballets can be compared. It is like comparing La fille mal gardée with Swan Lake.

I’ve seen a number of versions of Cinderella with various companies, and in my opinion, the current ABT version is the best. You can’t help but come out smiling. As far as Swan Lake, I have seen it loads of times with various companies, and this current ABT version is far from being my favorite version of the ballet. However, that being said….if I had to choose between the two ballets, I would still choose Swan Lake with Murphy/Gomes! But then that’s me. Whichever you choose, have a wonderful time!

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I am wondering if to see Abrera/Gorak or Nunez/Whiteside - and would appreciate any opinons. I will be taking an out of town friend to see it. Also I have

only seen Cinderella from above - is it better to be orchestra or grand tier? What would be the cut off point for orchestra?

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Mazurka, I would really encourage you to see Stella. She is an extraordinary dancer but, unfortunately, she is not frequently given the opportunity to dance principal roles. Seize the chance to see her, especially when she is firing on all cylinders this season and coming off a triumphant NY debut in Giselle. I've seen Ashton's Cinderella at ABT and think the lead role should suit Stella perfectly. That being said, I've never seen Nunez so I can't speak to how she compares to Stella. But, I can assure you Stella is wonderful!

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I've never seen Nunez, but my understanding is that she is that she is excellent in Ashton's Cinderella. You may never get to see her again unless you regularly go to London to see the RB. Perhaps people who have seen Nunez at the RB can comment?

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Thank you all - I was planning to see both, but now cannot have a friend last thru both on Saturday Matinees are trying on a normal day as there is candy unwrapped, accidental tourists, more noise etc - I am sure you have experienced it.

I saw Gorak last year. It was also a 4th of July matinee and there were plenty of empty seats. I was surprised that so many seats were already sold

for the 29th, but I ascribed it to Abrera's fans.

It is so sad that Abrera and Gorak are given such secondary treatment by the AD.

Thank you CTballeton for the warning - the magic would be gone - happened to me at last Nutckracker.

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I did see Nunez in Ashton's Cinderella in 2011...a beautiful performance but not her best role. She was quite lovely in the first act but dumbed down the manege in the Ball variation--at least relative to what Alina Cojocaru performed on video. She performs infrequently in the U.S. and is better suited to Cinderella than Song of the Earth, which she is performing on the Royal's tour, so it would be worthwhile to see her. Personally I don't think you can go wrong with either Abrera or Nunez.

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This is a tough decision, because on the one hand, you have in Abrera a lovely ABT dancer for whom this is a relatively rare opportunity and who is suited for the style, but in Nunez a dancer who doesn't appear that much in NYC.

If this were even twenty or thirty years ago, I would say take the Royal Ballet dancer, but schooling in Ashton style has not been robust for a while.

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Mazurka, ABT is giving free tickets to children accompanied by adults at the June 29 matinee of Cinderella. Don't know whether the many children in the audience will affect your decision of which cast to see.

Sorry, I got the date wrong. The free tickets for kids are for the Wednesday July 1 matinee.

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The June 1 matinee is Abrera/Gorak, unfortunately. I think I will go for the local team on Saturday, it would also appear from lack Nunez videos and her website of this ballet that it is not her favorite or best. Thank you all for helping with the decision!

Does anyone have a preference for seating for this particular ballet? I always end up upstairs and am beginning to think that I may be missing something - there are large

corps formations is this ballet that would give advantage to being above? The balconies are rather far away at the Met...

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As far as I could tell, you gain nothing by being higher: there's really only a brief period in the ballroom scene where complex formations that benefit from an aerial view enter the game.

It's more important to sit as close to the stage and as close to center as possible: there's a lot of mime action, some of which is pushed to the extreme sides of the stage.

(NOTE: I've only seen ABT's production once, so I might have forgotten something.)

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Thank you choriamb. I noticed Nunez is also dancing July 2nd so I will go standing room and hopefully sneak a seat :-)

I find this to be a very rude practice. I can’t tell you how many times there have been disruptions that continued into the performance because latecomers were escorted to their seats during an appropriate pause and found people sitting in their seats. I prefer to be on or close to an aisle, and it is not unusual for me to buy a seat that someone in standing room might find tempting. If I buy a seat, I expect to be able to sit down without the hassle of the usher having to argue with a squatter in the dark with their flashlight.

If you don’t want to remain in standing room, and you don’t want to buy an orchestra seat, then you should buy a ticketed seat elsewhere in the house, such as Balcony or Family Circle.

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