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Cinderella-Kremlin Ballet theatre

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There are many threads about Cinderella in ‘Discovering Ballet’. Then I’m not sure if I put this in the right place because it was my first time seeing this ballet and first time seeing this company!

Anyway, here I am.

I was told that, among four ballets to perform in the Bangkok 4th International festival of Dance and Music, Cinderella by Kremlin Ballet Theatre is a must-see programme. So I went to prove it myself last Saturday and found that the performance gave me mixed feelings.

Under the directorship of Andrey Petrov, National Artist of Russia, Kremlin Ballet Theatre has staged Cinderella since 1991, to a score by Prokofiev. Choreographed by Vladimir Vasyliev, this comic ballet emphasises mime rather than virtuoso dance. It’s short, precise, and brimming with hilarious moments.

With a combination of pastel-coloured scenery and white lace, the dancers stood out for their brightly coloured yet elegant costumes designed by Gerard Pippard (Nina Ricci). Sets and costumes seemed right (not to mention a big slice of orange on Cinderella’s stepmother and sisters’ heads!), but it was the corp de ballet that disturbed me. They obviously lacked uniformity.

The female principal was not on a high that night. Natalia Balaknicheva (graduated from Perm) had no depth as Cinderella, although displayed a pure classical style. She smiled the same way in every situation. In her solo with a shawl (which was torn into two pieces by her sisters), Balaknicheva used her ‘magic’ to piece them together. I must say it was this trick that intrigued the audience much more than her dancing.

Outstanding soloists were surprisingly the male. Loudest applause went to Ilya Osynovsky as a witty stepmother. He could dance on pointe and absolutely stole the spotlight. Konstantin Matveev as the Prince looked as if he is Igor Zelensky’s identical twin. Tall, blond, and powerful. He projected his character in every onstage moment. When he was distressed by the absence of Cinderella, he looked anxious and upset. And when he saw the stepmother forced her feet into the slipper, he was standing faint!

There were some scene reminding me of La Bayedere, Swan Lake, and Don Quixote. How?

I’d never imagined before that I’d see the Prince in Cinderella took hookah! Was he Solor?

But there was a reason. The Prince took it to calm himself down when he was madly searching for Cinderella and this, as a result, brought him a vision of his beloved one in white dress, then followed by Spanish and Arabian Dances! And after the Prince and Cinderella re-joined at the end of Act 2, there was a one-handed lift. Sound familiar?

After a 20-minute interval passed, the curtain rose for Act 2, all the dancers were in the same position as they were in Act 1 before the curtain down. I think I’ve never seen any company has done that before.

Kremlin Ballet Theatre also performed Napoleon Bonaparte, set to the score by Tikhon Khrennikov, choreographed by Andrey Petrov. There are 20 scenes in total.

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How interesting to read your review of the Kremlin Ballet, NO7. I've actually seen this Moscow company once in the early 1990s when they performed at the Palais des Congres in Paris with some guest stars, and I saw the Bolshoi star Maximova who probably retired from dancing not long after that Paris season. I think it might have been this particular production of Cinderella which you mentioned, but I'll try to find that old souvenir programme. The other ballet "Napoleon" sounds interesting too.

I am very interested to see other Russian companies besides the Kirov and the Bolshoi. Last season I was happy to see in London the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre and also the Stanislavsky Ballet from Moscow.

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