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Cinderella at the Finnish National Ballet, a review

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I went to see Cinderella performed by the Finnish National Ballet yesterday (7th Sep). I mostly liked what I saw, and it was definitely worth the money.

The staging and dresses were very delighful. The way they used lights and background scenes painted on cloth (sorry, I don't know the English words for this) was very nice. The ballet was worth it for the set designs alone. :)

The dancers, to my uneducated eyes at least, performed cleanly and well. The corps especially seemed very alive and, hmh, spirited, to me - I have heard people complain about the corps of the National Ballet being out of touch some time last year, but if they have been they seemed to me to have gotten over it. I also especially liked the way Asla Jääskeläinen danced the clown; he was vivid and and strong. The rest of the audience seemed to like him, too. :)

But there was also some things I didn't like. I think the problem was mainly with the coreography and nothing objective - I just didn't happen to like it. The first act seemed sort of feeble and watery to me. The Cinderella felt sort of half-hearted to me also in the II and III acts, but I'm not sure if this was the dancer or the coreography. The corps and the clown saved the day, for me.

And I absolutely hated the fairies. The coreographer or the - oh my, what's the word for the person who trains the dancers? - or both had given them lots of wishy-washy running around and waving of arms and nothing with any edge. They were "pastel-colored" and weak. I don't think this was the dancers' fault - they seemed technically good to me, the audience seemed to like them and especially Carolina Agüero as the the Autumn fairy got a huge applause. So I think in this case at least it was the coreography that didn't work for me. The dancers were meant to portray wishy-washy pastel-colored fairies and did their job well. :)

About the evil stepsisters I am of two minds. They made me laugh a couple of times, and they were danced well (by Henrik Burman and Javier Torres), but I think maybe they would have been better if they had not over-done it quite that much. I don't know.

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Jaana, thank you so much for your review! I found your descriptions of both the performance and your reactions to it to be very well written - to me, you painted the picture very clearly.:)

I wonder if you might find a review and post a link to it here on this thread, so we could read it? It is always interesting to see if a member of the audience has come away with the same impressions as the "critic". I'm not sure if there are any others present on this board who may have seen this performance or not, but I do hope they'll reply as well.

Again, Jaana, many thanks for taking up the gauntlet of writing your review of Cinderella for us! :)

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As I posted in the other Cinderella thread, it was over thirty years ago that I saw Ben Stevenson's 'Cinderella'. I was very young and was dazzled by Margot Fonteyn and the scenery, music, magic and wonderful National Ballet of Washington dancers.

To this day I remember most of the steps of the variations that the fairies of the four seasons danced. Were these pretty and musical variations missing? You said the Autumn Fairy received a lot of applause, so I would guess the variations are still there. So there really is a little more to it than just running around waving arms. I particularly remember in the finale waltz of the seasons, (where the Fairy Godmother tosses the pumpkin off stage and horses and carriage enter in the pumkins place), a cannon step of the fairies that to me looked like the passing of the seaons. Maybe my young mind was reading too much into it. :)

Sorry to hear you didn't like it Jaana. I was hoping that it had held up after all of these years. So many companies are performing it.

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glebb, the variations were there and as you say there were pretty. I think the problem with me is that they were exactly that - they felt "pretty" and nothing more. I want strong feeling, and didn't find it in what they did. I might have used too harsh words, though - there were some more steps than runs and arm movements involved, I must admit. :)

I liked the second act quite much, though. So it's not to say I didn't enjoy the ballet, I just would have liked it better without the fairies. :)

alexandra, I'll try and get the Ashton version on video or dvd, as it would be very interesting to compare the two coreographies.

Isn't learning to watch ballet such fun? :)

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Ok, it took some time for me to get the Ashton's version of this, but I finally managed to buy it on DVD. The Royal Ballet dances, 1964, Antoinette Sibley as Cinderella and Anthony Dowell as the Prince; John Vernon's direction for TV.

And, oh yes, this is how I like my fairies. :mad: Wishy-washy was far from it. The choreography and dancing managed to portray fairies as something apart from humans; the one element I specially liked was the way they moved, swaying softly in one place and then shifting quickly to another place, which made them look like they indeed danced in the air.

Also the variations had plenty of edge and spirit. You could practically see the seasons, with spring gleeful and a bit mischievous, summer soft and warm, fall fierce and unruly, wintery frozen air moving... oh yes. And for various reasons, I'm pretty sure it was the choreography and not the dancing that made the difference for me.

For other parts of the choreography I don't have so strong opinions to one direction or the other. I think I liked Stevenson's court scene better, though, at least the first part. Can't have everything, I guess. :rolleyes:

I won't go into further comparision, since I find it too difficult to compare a live performance seen half a year ago to a televised one now.

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